Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Catherine Torres submitted her resignation today, following a year of scrutiny and criticism from her detractors.
In a statement released today by the Governor's Office, Torres says her leave is "due to recent personal developments, including the passing of my mother and a heartfelt desire to spend time with my family."
"Her resignation was strictly for personal reasons," DOH spokesman Kenny Vigil tells SFR.
Yet Torres' tenure at the state's largest agency was rocky, to say the least. Alongside the many anecdotes of workplace intimidation and rising vacancy rates, Torres' inspired a website dedicated to her ouster and a petition from the Communications Workers America, the union which represents roughly a quarter of DOH employees, calling for her to step down.
In an email to SFR, "Johnathan Publix," who runs NMDOHCrisis.com, writes that Torres' resignation "closes a dark chapter at DOH," though he expresses skepticism over Brad McGrath, a current deputy secretary who will replace Torres until the Governor's Office appoints a permanent cabinet secretary.
McGrath is now tasked with running an agency with problems dating from before Torres' tenure that are still being resolved in court.
"The state of New Mexico needs a person who will [have] compassion and empathy towards the people of New Mexico and employees alike," Publix writes. "DOH provides safety-net services to citizens who often slip through the cracks. We need to improve these critical services and provide information to the public [that] saves lives without the convolution of politics or other ideology."
He adds that the website, which has a tagline that it will be up "until change comes to DOH including Dr. Torres' removal," will stay up with a "newly defined purpose to providing transparency and to serve as a form of checks and balances at the New Mexico Department of Health."
Torres' resignation is the second major upper-level staffing shakeup to hit DOH this year. She officially leaves DOH two weeks from today.
Read Torres' statement here: