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John D'Antonio, New Mexico's longtime state engineer, announced his resignation today. After nine years with the state, D'Antonio plans to join the Army Corps of Engineers in Albuquerque.
Maureen Haney, a public relations specialist with the Office of the State Engineer, tells SFR D'Antonio resigned in part because of a lack of information from the governor's office as to whether he would be allowed to remain in his position.
"She had actually given him no indication one way or the other, so he chose to go ahead and accept this position for security reasons," Haney says. "Nobody knew what was going to happen....He opted not to let this opportunity go by."
D'Antonio is a Republican, but he was appointed nine years ago by Gov. Bill Richardson. Gov. Susana Martinez has gradually replaced Richardson appointees in her administration, most recently firing state Arts Commission Chairman Herb Denish, the husband of her former rival for the governorship (and Richardson Lt. Gov.) Diane Denish.
Though D'Antonio has promised to remain in his position for 30 days while Martinez looks for a replacement, Haney says his departure will be a loss to the office.
"The entire staff of the State Engineer's [Office] is going to be really sad to see him go," Haney says. "He was a really great boss; he was fair; and we will miss him."
Here's the presser from the OSE:
(SANTA FE, New Mexico) --State Engineer John D'Antonio Tuesday announced his resignation after nearly 9 years as New Mexico's top water official.
"I have deeply enjoyed my tenure as State Engineer and I feel that I and my colleagues have greatly improved the office and made tremendous progress on the big water issues facing New Mexico," D'Antonio said. "I remember with particular satisfaction our work on Indian water rights settlements -- and relations with tribes and pueblos in general, adjudication advancement -- particularly in the lower Rio Grande, and implementation of the Pecos Settlement, domestic well regulations and active water resource management."
D'Antonio announced he was taking a position with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in its Albuquerque office as the Deputy District Engineer for Programs and Project Management. He will stay on as State Engineer for 30 days while Governor Susana Martinez designates a successor.
"I will do everything I can to ensure a smooth transition for my successor," D'Antonio said. "I feel very strongly that having the office of the State Engineer competent and impartial in its administration of state water law serves the interests of all New Mexicans."
A Republican, D'Antonio was appointed State Engineer by Governor Bill Richardson in the opening days of his administration in 2003 after serving in the position as Cabinet Secretary of the NM Environment Department under the Johnson Administration. He continued to serve as State Engineer, with no commitment on his job tenure, for the first nine months of the Martinez administration.
The Office of the State Engineer is charged with administering the state’s water resources. The State Engineer has the responsibility to allocate, measure, administer, and oversee the distribution of all surface and groundwater in New Mexico, including streams and rivers that cross state boundaries. The State Engineeris also Secretary of the Interstate Stream Commission.