- Associated Press - Thursday, November 15, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday selected a panel of experts to help identify potential cabinet leaders and to make recommendations as the Democrat prepares to take the top office in state government.

Several committees have been established by Lujan Grisham’s team to focus on different areas of government. The committee co-chairs include a former governor who most recently led New Mexico State University as chancellor and a former state police chief.

Lujan Grisham said in a statement that the effort will be bipartisan, with the goal of setting the state on a new path and leveraging every possible opportunity.

“We can build a state government that will create pathways to success for all New Mexico children and families by growing our economy, fixing our broken public education system, improving access to health care, and making our communities safer,” she said.

Lujan Grisham will follow Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, whose second consecutive term wraps up at the end of the year. She will inherit a significant budget surplus for the coming fiscal year - most of which is linked to the state’s oil and natural gas sector.

One of the top challenges for the governor’s office and the Democrat-controlled Legislature will be addressing educational opportunities for minority and low-income students following a landmark court decision earlier this year.

The education transition committee will be headed by former Gov. Garrey Carruthers, a Republican; Kara Bobroff, founder, principal and chief executive of the Native American Community Academy; and Everett Chavez, a councilman and former governor of Santo Domingo Pueblo.

The committee will be working with the Higher Education, Public Education and Indian Affairs departments.

The economy team includes Red River Mayor Linda Calhoun and Vince Kadlubek, the co-founder and chief executive officer of the art collaborative Meow Wolf. The Santa Fe-based enterprise created an immersive exhibit that attracted some 500,000 visitors last year and now employs more than 300 people.

Andrew Hsi, a pediatrician and professor at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center will co-chair the health and human services committee with Jennifer Ramo, an attorney who is the executive director of New Mexico Appleseed, a nonprofit organization that works with the poor and underserved.

The public safety committee will be led by retired State Police Chief Robert Shilling and retired Brigadier General Judy Griego, the first New Mexico woman to have been promoted to the rank of brigadier general in the New Mexico National Guard.

Toby Velasquez, the deputy director of New Mexico State Parks, and Sarah Cottrell Propst, a former deputy secretary of the state Environment Department, will co-chair the natural resources committee.

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