Gov. Susana Martinez appointed Brad Winter to be New Mexico’s next secretary of state on Tuesday. Many NMPolitics.net readers said they were happy with the choice.
“His reputation as a truly principled, ethical, and intelligent public servant will serve him well,” Ray Wilkinson of Albuquerque wrote on Facebook. “As a cynical but hopeful citizen, I am pleased.”
Winter, a Republican who is currently an Albuquerque city councilor, was also a longtime administrator for the Albuquerque Public Schools. He most recently served as interim superintendent for the troubled district before retiring. Del Hansen, a retired educator from Las Cruces, spoke positively about Martinez’s choice.
“Winter has been a capable administrator in the APS, and not involved in scandal,” Hansen said. “He’s a sharp guy and I think he will do fine.”
In a news release announcing the appointment, Martinez said Winter won’t seek re-election next year, creating an open race for secretary of state. Winter will serve until the winner of next year’s election takes office on Jan. 1, 2017.
Winter replaces Republican Dianna Duran, who resigned in October and pleaded guilty to illegally misusing campaign funds to keep her personal bank account in the black while she gambled at New Mexico casinos. Duran was sentenced on Monday to 30 days in jail and hit with fines and other penalties. She has until Wednesday to decide whether to accept the sentence or go to trial.
Winter, the first man to serve as New Mexico’s secretary of state since 1922, will take over an office that has seen scandal plague its last three leaders. Among his tasks will be running the 2016 election in New Mexico and restoring confidence in the state’s campaign finance reporting system that Duran abused.
Martinez said Winter is up to the task.
“Brad Winter has the integrity, skills, and temperament to step in as secretary of state and serve New Mexicans with distinction,” Martinez said. “He’s a proven leader, routinely praised by Republicans and Democrats alike, and his experience as a long-time administrator who has managed large budgets, capital and information technology projects, and sizeable staffs will be key to overseeing a successful and well-run election next year.”
In Martinez’s news release, Winter said he’s “honored to have the governor’s trust and confidence.”
“These are unique circumstances, but I believe that we will be able to rise to the challenge and uphold New Mexico’s election laws, operate an efficient Secretary of State’s Office, and oversee a professionally managed presidential-year election,” Winter said.
J.D. Bullington, a lobbyist in Santa Fe, said Winter is “a class act.”
“I think he has great integrity. You don’t read stories about scandal,” Bullington said on Facebook. “… He is quiet, carries a big stick of confidence. Strong leadership skills. I like him. It’s a solid pick.”
Greg Baca of Albuquerque agreed.
“He has proven to be a leader. I think he will restore public trust. I agree, good choice,” Baca said.
Bullington also said the staff in the Secretary of State’s Office “is very competent right now.”
“This should work,” Bullington said.
Sue Flynt, who lives in Winter’s City Council District 4, said he is “perfect” for the position of secretary of state. She said Winter sponsored a resolution to correct zoning of her neighborhood and help raise property values.
“I think he is honest,” Flynt said on Facebook.
Whether Winter can and will remain on the Albuquerque City Council, where he’s currently the longest-serving member, remains unclear. Winter didn’t address the issue in Martinez’s news release.
Winter has been a city councilor since 1999 and won re-election in October. Wendy Simms-Small of Albuquerque suggested scrutinizing the relationship between Winter and political operative Jay McCleskey, who also works for the governor and is under FBI scrutiny.
According to city campaign finance reports, Winter paid McCleskey’s company more than $27,000 for work on his last campaign.