Alfono Solis Roswell’s police chief was named as New Mexico interim secretary of Corrections after Lupe Martinez resigned Friday. Martinez, 50, held the position for eight months and was the first woman to lead the state prison system. Sen. Tim Jennings, D-Roswell, called Martinez an American success story after her confirmation to the Cabinet post last winter.
“I received a phone call from the governor, Friday, around two in the afternoon, saying ‘I’d like you for interim.’”
He said he had to get permission from the city to take up the temporary post. “I just happened to be driving past the city building. I told her that I’d ask and call her back. She decided to stay on the line.”
Solis said that City Administrator Larry Fry thought he was joking when he said he had the governor on the phone. I passed the phone to him.”
In the end, the chief received the blessings of both Fry and Mayor Del Jurney. “As much as I would like you to stay here. We are also New Mexicans and must help the state when we can.”
Solis plans to spend weekends here in Roswell and he approximates that the temporary appointment will last about 12 weeks.
Among his duties in this position will be figuring out the budget and starting a nationwide search for a permanent secretary of Corrections. “It’s a huge responsibility,” said Solis.
Other priorities include filling some of the vacancies that have developed in the Department of Corrections. “We need to get permanent staff,” he said. “I’ll be involved in strategies planning. The everyday operations of the facilities are handled there.”
When asked if he would stay in Santa Fe should the opportunity arise, Solis said, “I enjoy what I am doing here. I have a house here.” He also pointed out that his wife also has a job locally.
The new appointment is the third for the Chief in the past four months. Currently, he is part of the Counties’ Taskforce for Mental Health and the Judicial Standards Commission. “In all modesty, I think I can handle it. I wouldn’t have accepted it if I didn’t think I could.”
In the interim, Deputy Chief Brad McFadden has been named acting chief for the duration of the appointment. “I have all the confidence in the world with Brad McFadden,” he said.
Solis hopes to be back on Sept. 14 to welcome the newly-hired deputy chief.