N.M. governor shakes up personnel in first months of second term

By: - February 2, 2023 2:32 pm
In the foreground is a blurry flag and flowers. Focused in the foreground is Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham who pauses while giving her State of the State speech before the joint session of the 2023 New Mexico Legislature in Santa Fe.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham pauses while giving her State of the State speech before a joint session of the 2023 New Mexico Legislature in Santa Fe on Tuesday, Jan. 17. (Photo by Shaun Griswold / Source NM)

Since Michelle Lujan Grisham’s re-election as New Mexico governor, five cabinet secretaries have left the administration, with three leaving in the last week in the middle of the legislative session.

General Services Department Secretary John Garcia has resigned, and Friday is his last day.

Press Secretary Nora Meyers Sackett is leaving the governor’s office next week.

Human Services Department Secretary Dr. David Scrase is retiring from state government on Feb. 23.

Education Secretary Kurt Steinhaus left on Jan. 27 after just announcing he planned to stay.

Department of Finance and Administration Secretary Deborah Romero left at the end of 2022.

The Senate Rules Committee is the legislative panel that confirms the governor’s cabinet-level appointments.

Confirmations can be expected to be coming through the committee beginning next week, said Chris Nordstrum, a spokesperson for the Democratic majority in the Senate. The committee will soon be starting Saturday meetings devoted primarily to confirmations, he said.

Meyers Sackett told the Santa Fe New Mexican the turnover in a governor’s second term is not unusual.

“For context, five cabinet secretaries left the [administration of former Republican Gov. Susana Martinez] following her reelection in 2014,” she told the newspaper. “These are not your average ‘9 to 5’ jobs — they require a high level of dedication and come with the highest level of responsibility. It’s also important to consider the unique challenges outside of anyone’s control that were faced during the governor’s first term.”

The newspaper compiled a history of Lujan Grisham’s cabinet appointees here.


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Austin Fisher
Austin Fisher

Austin Fisher is a journalist based in Santa Fe. He has worked for newspapers in New Mexico and his home state of Kansas, including the Topeka Capital-Journal, the Garden City Telegram, the Rio Grande SUN and the Santa Fe Reporter. Since starting a full-time career in reporting in 2015, he’s aimed to use journalism to lift up voices that typically go unheard in public debates around economic inequality, policing and environmental racism.