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Ex-congresswoman leads Martinez transition team

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By Barry Massey

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Former New Mexico Congresswoman Heather Wilson will lead Gov.-elect Susana Martinez's transition team in preparing for the Republican to take office in less than two months.

Martinez announced Wilson's appointment on Thursday, describing her as "respected, accomplished, honest and a very trustworthy leader who will ensure that the administration has the most qualified individuals and principled people."

Wilson, 49, works as a private consultant in Albuquerque. She served five terms representing the Albuquerque-area 1st Congressional District but gave up the seat in 2008 to unsuccessfully run for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate.

Wilson said she will serve as the point person in working with Gov. Bill Richardson's administration on transition issues and will help in recruiting people to work for the next governor.

"I am very confident that we will be able to harness the excitement and the energy surrounding Susana's election and identify fresh faces from all across New Mexico who want to move this state forward," said Wilson.

Martinez defeated Democrat Diane Denish, the lieutenant governor since 2003.

Wilson said there's no timetable for Martinez to start making appointments of cabinet-level administrators for state agencies.

Martinez is establishing a website to help in hiring people for her administration. People interested in jobs can submit personal information online to the transition team.

Martinez, the district attorney in Dona Ana County, said she hasn't decided when she will step down as prosecutor.

The governor fills district attorney vacancies, according to the Administrative Office of the District Attorneys. That means Martinez may be able to pick her successor.

The state provides $50,000 to cover transition expenses for Martinez.

Richardson has named his chief of staff, Brian Condit, to head the administration's transition team, which will assist Martinez as she prepares to take over in Santa Fe. The governor has pledged his cooperation to ensure Martinez can "hit the ground running."

Wilson, an Air Force Academy graduate, is a defense expert who won election to Congress in 1998 after serving as an administrator under former Republican Gov. Gary Johnson. She was secretary of the Children, Youth and Families Department from 1995 until running for Congress.