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Trio of first-time candidates square off for District 3 seat

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Three people new to running for public office are vying for the District 3 seat on the Bernalillo County Commission.

Two of them, Adrian Carver and Adriann Barboa, have a background working with progressive social activist organizations, while the third, Marcos Gonzales, has a background in finance with state and county agencies.

Whoever comes out on top in the June 2 primary will have no Republican opposition in November’s general election.

All three Democrats emphasize a need for economic development in the district, and all are hoping to win the seat formerly held by Maggie Hart Stebbins, who, last January – one year shy of completing her second elected term on the commission – left for a gubernatorial appointment as New Mexico’s Natural Resources Trustee.

Retired Presbyterian minister Jim Collie was appointed by the governor to fill Hart’s remaining year. From the beginning, he said he was not interested in running for the seat.

The district lies mostly in the city of Albuquerque. It runs along the east side of Interstate 25 from the southernmost to the northernmost area of the county. It includes Nob Hill, Kirtland Air Force Base, Central New Mexico Community College and Expo New Mexico.

Adrian Carver

Carver, 33, is the executive director of Equality New Mexico. He said his primary focus will be “to help working families and small businesses recover from the ongoing economic crisis related to the public health emergency.”

The pandemic, Carver said, “has exposed the inequity of our systems and it’s time for us to rebuild our economy in a way that isn’t engineered to create poverty.”

Carver acknowledged that he recently received some negative pushback after his campaign printed mailers that called attention to Barboa’s past criminal history.

That history includes several bench warrants in connection with parking tickets, a drug arrest for marijuana and an older DWI conviction.

Adriann Barboa

Barboa, 44, said she accepts full responsibility for her law enforcement encounters. She explained that the drug arrest stemmed from a 2018 traffic stop in Arizona, during which she was found to have less than two grams of cannabis.

Barboa is the policy director of Strong Families of New Mexico/Forward Together. She was motivated to seek the commission seat, she said, to ensure that health and safety nets for struggling families are in place, as well as to support small and local businesses with county tax incentives and other publicly funded programs.

Raised and still living in the Southeast area, Barboa said she recognizes that part of town has “unacceptable levels of violence and crime,” although those are often related to “generational substance abuse and poverty,” which has touched her own family.

Barboa said she would hold roundtable meetings with all stakeholders, including community members, victims of crime, businesses, law enforcement and those who have engaged in criminal activity, and out of those mutual discussions “develop policies that work for all our families and law enforcement,” and to mitigate crime.

Marcos Gonzales

Gonzales, 35, said he would bring to the office “12 years of serving in state and local economic development with small businesses, as well as being a former small-business owner,” having owned a rental property.

Gonzales said what is most needed in the district is economic recovery once the COVID-19 crisis has passed. “And if you look at such neighborhoods as Nob Hill even before COVID-19, they needed a lot of assistance.” But other business corridors in the district have also struggled, he said.

“We need to work together with the community to bring back small-business owners to open up shops, as well as to protect the ones that are there and have them grow,” Gonzales said.

Attracting more businesses and more customer traffic is tied to giving business owners and patrons the confidence that the area is safe, “because public safety is tied into economic development,” he said.

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