By Jack King
A committee charged with picking “approximately five” candidates for the state Secretary of Education has prepared a preliminary list, a spokeswoman for Gov. Bill Richardson said on Thursday.
Catherine Miller, Richardson’s deputy chief of staff, said the committee has not yet presented the five names to the governor because it is still checking backgrounds.
She did not name the five on the preliminary list.
Miller said there have been between 35 and 40 applicants for the position, which voters approved in the Sept. 23 special election.
The secretary will hold a cabinet-level position and take over many of the duties presently performed by the state Board of Education.
The selection committee has met three times. It plans to send a list of “approximately five” candidates to Richardson, who wants to interview them, Miller said.
Richardson would like to announce the name of a new education secretary by early November, Miller said.
Three area men have been serving on the selection committee:
n State Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, the minority floor leader of the Senate; State Sen. Carroll Leavell, R-Jal; and Dr. William D. Reents, superintendent of Tucumcari Municipal Schools.
Leavell said he has been to two of the committee’s three meetings, although he missed the last one because of personal business. Ingle said he has missed two of the meetings because of other legislative business.
Ingle said once Richardson picks a finalist he must submit his or her name to the Senate’s Rules Committee. That means the applicant may not be confirmed until January. However, the governor might put the confirmation on the proclamation for the upcoming special session, he said.