ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The former communications director for Albuquerque’s current mayor has gone on to snag a high paying, full-time protected job with the city.

As Mayor Richard J. Berry’s term reaches the end of the line, it’s also the end of the line for his dozens of political appointees – except one that we know of: Dayna Crawford.

The next mayor, who will take office in December, inherits Dayna Crawford.

For a several years, Crawford served as Republican Mayor Richard J. Berry’s communications director. She was in the mayor’s inner circle.

Then, three years ago, Crawford switched roles and became ABQ Ride’s deputy director. She was later tasked with heading the team to bring the mayor’s Albuquerque Rapid Transit project to the metro.

According to the city, that position Crawford took was unprotected, meaning the next mayor could do away with Crawford in that role and move to appoint someone he or she prefers.

KRQE News 13 has learned, however, that the ABQ Ride deputy director position recently changed to a protected role, which would keep the next mayor from picking and choosing who he or she wants in the spot.

Hired July 1, 2017 for this now-protected job was Crawford. She’s making roughly $95,000 in the same, yet reclassified role.

The mayor’s office says Crawford was hired in a competitive process, going up against two other candidates.

The mayor’s office issued the following statement on the matter, citing ABQ Ride Director Bruce Rizzieri:

The City of Albuquerque is undergoing unprecedented transportation improvements that require significant community outreach and public engagement. As such, an existing position was opened through a competitive process and Ms. Crawford was selected as the most qualified applicant.”

KRQE News 13 followed up by asking why the position was changed from unprotected to protected, given that the mayor only has a few months left in office before he passes on his ART legacy.

To that, the city responded:

Knowing that this catalytic project [ART] will begin operation at the beginning of the year, we knew it was imperative that ABQ Ride had a skilled person in place to continue the public outreach campaign and educate the general public about how to use it.

KRQE News 13 also reached out to Crawford directly, who did not returns our calls or text messages.

According to the city, Crawford is currently in a six-month probationary period. Based on that timeline, the new mayor would have a small window in which he or she could move to fire Crawford, but there has to be cause.