SANTA FE — A high-level vacancy in Gov. Susana Martinez’s office has been filled by the Governor’s Office’s top attorney.
Jessica Hernandez, who had served as Martinez’s general counsel, is now working as a deputy chief of staff for the office, a Martinez spokesman confirmed Tuesday.
The move comes at a time of job shuffling at the Governor’s Office, as both of Martinez’s previous deputy chiefs of staff — there are currently two such positions on the Governor’s Office payroll — have left their jobs this year.
Most recently, Ryan Cangiolosi stepped down this month to take a newly created job with the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center.
However, Hernandez is actually filling the other vacant deputy chief of staff position, which had been empty since Brian Moore resigned.
Hernandez, 32, is making $115,000 a year in her new job, which she started last month, Martinez spokesman Greg Blair said Tuesday. She had been earning a salary of $100,000 annually in her position as general counsel.
Before going to work for the Governor’s Office in January 2011, Hernandez worked in a private Albuquerque law office. She previously was the youngest member of the state bar for three consecutive years, from 2003 to 2005.
As the governor’s top staff attorney, Hernandez argued several cases before the New Mexico Supreme Court and played an active role in the once-per-decade task of redistricting, much of which was ultimately settled by the courts.
While filling one vacancy, Hernandez’s shift from general counsel to deputy chief of staff created a new opening in Martinez’s office.
That vacancy has not been filled, with Blair saying Tuesday, “At this point, there have been no other decisions regarding staffing in our legal department.”
Other governors have had to deal with turnover in high-ranking staff positions. Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson, Martinez’s predecessor, had three different chiefs of staff during his eight-year stint as governor.
Martinez, a Republican who is approaching the midway point of her four-year term, has had the same chief of staff since taking office, former Roswell legislator Keith Gardner.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal