State General Services Secretary Ken Ortiz, who will retire in a month, believes he will leave state government in better shape than when he arrived almost three decades ago.
His department provides resources and services that support state agencies as well as local government bodies and public schools.
Under his two-year watch, the department has made $32 million in energy improvements to state buildings, added 28 electric cars to its fleet and installed 30 charging stations for the cars.
The greener buildings will save $1.1 million in energy costs, Ortiz said. This energy-efficiency work was one of the largest and most satisfying projects he has overseen, he said, partly because it helps the state address climate change.
"It helps all of us," Ortiz said. "Not just state employees, but the citizens of New Mexico and our children for generations to come."
When Ortiz, 51, retires, Deputy Secretary Duffy Rodriguez will serve as the agency's interim head while the Governor's Office searches for a replacement.
“I am deeply grateful to Ken for his willingness to serve New Mexicans in this role,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement Tuesday announcing Ortiz's retirement plans. “He has been a steady and trustworthy public servant for decades. I wish him the best."
Ortiz said making buildings more energy efficient included installing solar panels, new central-air systems, low-flush toilets and tinted windows.
And there now are 35 charging stations to go with 35 electric cars, which his department and other agencies can use. The department aims to keep expanding the electric car fleet, he added.
The department also assisted in planning a new 44,000-square-foot forensic laboratory under construction in northeastern Santa Fe.
He touted his department's efforts to become more transparent, ending what he described as decades of secrecy by making settlements of liability claims against the state immediately public through the online Sunshine Portal.
The agency has worked to bring more government contract dollars to New Mexico companies, reduced prescription drug costs for residents and managed a $115 million increase in capital projects, Ortiz said in a statement.
He took the department's reins shortly after Lujan Grisham was elected. He served as chief of staff and other leadership roles in the Secretary of State's Office from 2011-18.
Before that, he was secretary of the Department of Workforce Solutions and director of the Motor Vehicle Division. He also worked in the Taxation and Revenue Department and the Human Services Department during his career, which began in 1993.
He said he has no immediate plans beyond spending time with his family.
Leaving will be bittersweet, he said.
"It's mixed feelings," Ortiz said. "It's tough to leave, but I'm also looking forward to the next chapter in my life as well. I have really enjoyed the opportunities and the people I've gotten to work with."