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Lujan Grisham fills key jobs in administration

SANTA FE – Michelle Lujan Grisham isn’t expecting much sleep the next few days.

She was preparing late Monday for a private swearing-in ceremony at midnight with relatives and friends at the Capitol – when she formally becomes the governor of New Mexico.

Nine hours later, she will head to Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, followed by a public inauguration at noon and inaugural balls in the evening.

Today “is going to be a really exciting but incredibly long day,” she said.

Michelle Lujan Grisham

Lujan Grisham wrapped up her transition Monday by filling critical positions in the Governor’s Office.

She announced that John Bingaman – son of former U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. – and Santa Fe County administrator Teresa Casados will help lead her administration, operating as equals who report directly to her.

Bingaman, 39, was hired as chief of staff and will oversee policy development, the legislative team and legal operations in the Governor’s Office. He has worked in investment banking, run a software firm and served as managing principal of an investment firm but will be making his first move into government.

Casados, 55, will serve as chief operations officer and oversee the execution of policy and legislation, work with Cabinet secretaries and manage constituent services. She has a long history in local and state government, most recently as director of senior services for Santa Fe County.

Lujan Grisham described Bingaman and Casados as “two incredible individuals whose job it is to make sure that strategically and tactically we are delivering for New Mexicans every single day.”

They will each be paid $130,000 a year.

Bingaman’s father, who represented New Mexico for 30 years before retiring in 2013, served as chairman of Lujan Grisham’s transition team this year, but John Bingaman suggested his dad didn’t push him into government service.

“My dad doesn’t give advice on this kind of stuff,” Bingaman said. ” A decision like this has to come from the heart, and this one certainly did.”

Casados has worked in state government before. She and Lujan Grisham both worked in the administration of then-Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat.

Lujan Grisham was a Cabinet secretary. Casados worked as deputy chief of staff to Richardson in 2008-09.

The governor-elect announced a variety of others who will work in the Governor’s Office, including:

• Matthew L. Garcia, general counsel. He is a civil rights attorney from Albuquerque.

• Dominic Gabello as senior adviser for policy, strategy and communications. He served as Lujan Grisham’s gubernatorial campaign manager.

• Stephanie Kean, senior policy adviser for education. She is an urban planner who worked in Lujan Grisham’s congressional office.

• Jane Wishner, executive policy adviser for health and human services. She was a founding member of the law firm now known as Peifer, Hanson & Mullins.

• Mariana Padilla, director of the Children’s Cabinet. She has worked in Lujan Grisham’s congressional office.

• Victor Reyes, legislative director. Reyes has worked as a senior staff member for the state Senate Democratic caucus.

• Matt Ruybal a director of constituent relations. He had a similar job in Lujan Grisham’s congressional office.

• Tripp Stelnicki as director of communications. He covered city and county government for the Santa Fe New Mexican before joining Lujan Grisham’s transition team.

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