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Equality NM executive director is placed on leave

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Just weeks before voters decide his fate as a Bernalillo County Commission candidate, Adrian Carver has been placed on leave from his day job.

Adrian Carver

Equality New Mexico, a nonprofit organization focused on LGBTQ advocacy, announced in a recent Facebook post that it had put Carver, its executive director, on immediate administrative leave.

“We have heard and acknowledge the concerns of our community and partners,” the post said.

Joseph Samora, chair of Equality’s foundation board of directors, said that the board technically accepted Carver’s decision to go on leave. He said Carver announced that intention at the start of an emergency board meeting called last weekend over concerns raised “by many entities of the greater LGBTQ community in New Mexico.”

Samora declined to detail the concerns, but Carver told the Journal that the comments included criticism about one of his campaign mailers.

Carver, Adriann Barboa and Marcos Gonzales are in a three-way Democratic primary race for the county’s District 3 commission seat.

Adriann Barboa

One of Carver’s campaign mailers includes a section highlighting Barboa’s criminal record, noting that she has had several bench warrants for failure to appear in court and a 2018 drug arrest. Barboa has said the bench warrants were related to parking tickets and the drug arrest was made during a traffic stop in Arizona when she was found with less than 2 grams of cannabis.

The mailer sparked outrage among some in the progressive community.

“Shame on candidate Carver for criminalizing one of his opponents, a queer woman of color, for her possession of a small amount of cannabis after a traffic stop,” Marianna Anaya of Progress Now New Mexico wrote on the organization’s website.

Asked if he regretted the mailer, Carver said he thinks Barboa’s history is relevant.

“Somebody running for public office shouldn’t have to have the threat of arrest by the county sheriff in order to take care of an administrative thing like a parking ticket,” he said.

Barboa, in turn, described Carver’s methods as “scare tactics,” saying the bench warrants were tied to parking meter violations and do not define her.

“I have three solid, reputable New Mexico organizations to reflect my responsibility and my integrity, and the work that I really do in step with the community,” said Barboa, policy director for Strong Families New Mexico and former executive director for Young Women United.

Carver said he was proud of his accomplishments with Equality New Mexico, but recent circumstances only hastened what he said was his existing plan to move on to a new job.

Samora said Equality New Mexico’s board is planning to hire Carver’s successor.

“I have been contemplating the next step in my career for a long time and with the election happening, this feels like a transitional moment and the perfect moment to announce to the board that I would be pursuing other opportunities,” Carver said.

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