New Mexico Homeland Security secretary to step down

Jackie Lindsey, who was then called Jackie White, speaks after a December news conference at the state Capitol in which she was named as the incoming governor’s pick for homeland security secretary. Lindsey announced Tuesday she will resign. Luis Sánchez Saturno/New Mexican file photo

Jackie Lindsey, who headed the state’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for less than a year, resigned Tuesday — just a day after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Attorney General Hector Balderas, members of the state’s congressional delegation and House Speaker Brian Egolf met with her on efforts to combat potential domestic terrorism in New Mexico.

Lindsey is the third Cabinet secretary to leave her position since Lujan Grisham took office.

“After careful consideration, I have decided to resign as the Cabinet secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to focus on my family and my health,” Lindsey said in her statement to Lujan Grisham.

Deputy Secretary Kelly Hamilton will serve as acting secretary, and the Governor’s Office said in a statement it is now searching for a successor.

A spokeswoman for the governor, Nora Meyers Sackett, said she didn’t have any more details to provide about Lindsey’s departure.

Former Education Secretary Karen Trujillo was removed from office in July, just six months after being appointed by the governor. She had declined a request to resign after failing to meet the governor’s expectations on making changes in the education system, the governor has said.

In August, New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department Secretary Alice Liu McCoy left her $150,000-a-year position for another job as executive director of the state Developmental Disabilities Planning Council. She was replaced by Katrina Hotrum-Lopez, formerly Bernalillo County’s behavioral health services director.

Lindsey’s resignation comes just before a winter storm is expected to sweep across Northern New Mexico.

The department’s Emergency Operations Center will remain open and work with emergency management officers from across the state.

Before becoming a Cabinet secretary, Lindsey, a onetime member of the Canadian Olympic team in softball, was captain of homeland security and emergency management for the Albuquerque Fire Department, where she had worked for 17 years.

She was captain of fire investigations for the department before that, and she served 10 years on the former New Mexico Urban Search and Rescue Team unit.

Under Lindsey, the Homeland Security department announced a new drone program to track fires and floods, and possibly help locate migrants on open stretches of desert. During her time as secretary, Lindsey also worked to beef up infrastructure funding and law enforcement in remote border areas.

The department also helped provide funding to cities in Southern New Mexico dealing with an influx of asylum-seekers crossing the border earlier this year.

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Jens Gould covers politics for the Santa Fe New Mexican. He was a correspondent for Bloomberg News in Mexico City, a regular contributor for TIME in California, and produced the video series Bravery Tapes.

(3) comments

Francisco Carbajal

What a terrible loss to the State of New Mexico! Estimada Jackie Lindsey subject matter expertise in the emergency management field is "top-notch" and badly needed for our state, specifically in assisting to enhanced our New Mexico Tribal Nations emergency management, response, training, and core-capabilities. Yet, I wholeheartedly understand her decision to step-down, because "family comes first" and her "self-care" should be number one, too! Now, I will just wait to see on who will take the spear and move us forward with a positive outcome to protect and defend our homelands in NM. Take care, Estimada Jackie!

Chris Mechels

Another pick who NEEDS to leave is Dept of Public Safety Secretary Mark Shea. He was a terrible choice, with a very weak background which includes having a hand in the 2013 destruction of NM police training. That training has never recovered, and won't under Mark. See his role at;

Francisco Carbajal

Mr. Chris Mechels, here you go again with ranting against someone that you do not personally or professionally know of. Who are you to disrespect my friend and brother in law enforcement who has dedicated his entire life to serve and protect our communities across New Mexico? What has he done to you personally or professionally for your to insult, degrade, and disrespect a good public servant? On the same note, I personally and professionally know Secretary Mark Shea and he is an honorable man with dignity, integrity, high moral compass, and dedication to duty. Back to my statement about you, Mr. Chris Mechels, you continue to submit libel and slanderous public comment's on a social media network without punitive and accountability and think you can get away with it for "just because." Wrong answer! You need to cease and desist from making these libel and slander comments against our public servant's who are not politician's in the field of the election cycle. They are conducting themselves as professional's and subject matter expertise's on behalf of all New Mexican's, period! The freedom of speech and expression in this type of scenario will not protect you "Chris Mechels" when the time arrives for a tort claim file against you for shooting your mouth in a public forum or social media network. Yes, I am upset with you and the "zero tolerance" on your anti-police ranting is noted! And no, we don't need your permission to file this tort claim on behalf of our law enforcement community, either!

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