Karissa Culbreath

Mayor Gregg Hull has selected microbiologist and infectious-disease expert Karissa Culbreath to fill the District 5 City Council seat vacancy.

As per the city charter, Culbreath’s appointment requires governing body confirmation, which Hull plans to seek at the governing body’s Dec. 10 meeting.

Culbreath has a doctorate in microbiology, and works as medical director and chief of the infectious disease division at TriCore Laboratories in Albuquerque, as well as an associate professor in the University of New Mexico School of Medicine Department of Pathology.

“As a result of an extensive applicant vetting process, I have chosen to appoint Dr. Culbreath to represent District 5,” Mayor Hull said. “As a scientist, educator, published author, community development advocate and resident of Rio Rancho since 2012, Dr. Culbreath will bring valuable knowledge and perspective to the governing body.  Dr. Culbreath has been on the frontlines of COVID-19, and I believe her expertise will aid local government in navigating the challenges of the pandemic moving forward.

“The sheer number of residents from District 5 who expressed an interest to serve the community was extraordinary,” Hull said. “I thank each and every person who sought to be a public servant at a time when circumstances are ever-changing due to COVID-19.”

If the governing body confirms Culbreath’s appointment, she would be sworn in at the meeting. She would serve a term that ends in March 2022.

As part of the regular municipal election that month, the District 5 seat will be decided by voters, and the person elected will serve a four-year term.

In October, Hull put out an open call to District 5 residents to apply to fill the vacant city council seat. He selected Culbreath from 13 eligible applicants.

In 2016, Culbreath was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for the children’s book she authored. She has lived in Rio Rancho since 2012 with her husband and two children.  She is active with her local church and has worked to promote science, technology, engineering and math education and community development.

As per the city charter, if the governing body does not accept Hull’s appointment, the mayor will appoint another individual within 45 days, subject to governing body confirmation. The process of mayoral appointment and governing body consideration of the appointment continues until the governing body has confirmed an appointee of the mayor to fill the position.

The council vacancy was created when Jennifer Flor, elected in March 2018, resigned effective Oct. 10, due to family considerations.