November 28, 2017

Keller names key staff, including interim APD chief

Andy Lyman

Tim Keller

Albuquerque Mayor-Elect Tim Keller announced new leadership positions for his administration this week, including an interim police chief.

Keller announced on Monday that Sarita Nair will be the city’s Chief Administrative Officer. Nair is one of multiple members of his staff in the State Auditor’s office that will hold key positions in his administration.

Nair will be the first woman to serve in the position in Albuquerque’s history. She worked in the State Auditor’s office as Chief Government Accountability Officer and General Counsel under Keller.

“One of the most important tasks during this historically short transition period is crafting a leadership team to take over operations on day one, while implementing our vision for a safe, innovative and inclusive city,” Keller said. “We are building a talented team to tackle Albuquerque’s challenges head on. Each of these appointees brings strong experience and dedication to their work and will serve our city well.”

Tuesday, Keller announced that former Rio Rancho Police Department chief Michael James Geier will be the interim Chief of the Albuquerque Police Department.

“Our new Chief of Police Michael Geier is committed to better crime fighting, accountability in APD, and to restoring trust and community policing,” Keller said in a statement. “In the midst of the unacceptable crime epidemic in our city and the ongoing need for reform, I’m grateful to share that our safety will be in the hands of a chief with a rare combination of qualities.”

APD Chief Gorden Eden announced earlier this month that he would retire on Dec. 1, when Keller is sworn in. Keller had previously said he would fire Eden when he took office.

Keller named Sunalei Stewart as his Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief Administrative Officer. Stewart is Keller’s Chief of Staff in the State Auditor’s Office.

Sanjay Bhatka will be the Chief Financial Officer of the city, after working as Deputy State Auditor under Keller.

Justine Freeman will be Keller’s Deputy Chief of Staff, after serving in the same position in the State Auditor’s office.

Keller also announced Harold Medina, Rogelio Banez and Eric Garcia will be interim Deputy Chiefs of Police on Monday.