Outgoing Los Alamos County Councilors Honored

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Los Alamos County Council Chair David Izraelevitz, left, presents a plaque to Councilor Rick Reiss Tuesday evening in honor of his six years of service on the Council. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com

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District 43 Rep.-Elect Chris Chandler receives a plaque from Los Alamos County Council Chair David Izraelevitz in honor of her two years of service on the Council including this year as vice chair. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com

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Outgoing Los Alamos County Councilor Morrie Pongratz reads a letter at Tuesday evening’s County Council meeting as fellow Councilors Rick Reiss and Chris Chandler listen. Councilor Susan O’Leary, whose term is also expiring, did not attend the meeting. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com

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Los Alamos County Councilor Morrie Pongratz, left, accepts a plaque in recognition of his service on the County Council. Pongratz was appointed earlier this year to complete the term of former Councilor James Chrobocinski who resigned due to health reasons. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com


Three Los Alamos County Councilors who are departing the Council Dec. 31 were honored by their fellow councilors Tuesday evening at the conclusion of the regular Council meeting at the Municipal Building. The fourth departing Councilor Susan O’Leary did not attend.

Council Chair David Izraelevitz first honored Councilor Morrie Pongratz saying that even though his was a short tenure, it was very impactful.

“I think I can speak on behalf of the full Council. We appreciated his perspective and history with Council and we appreciate his service on Council as well as his broader community service,” Izraelevitz said.

Pongratz responded by reading the following comments:

Like my fellow councilors I am feeling a number of emotions right now – gratitude, happiness, satisfaction, and sadness. I want to express my thanks to my fellow councilors for trusting me and giving me a “déjà vu” experience with a seventh term on this body. There have been many changes since back in the 20th century, most of them for the better. The antagonistic “Facebook world” of today is not one of them and I feel sympathy for the incoming councilors.

I am happy that I got to meet and know a number of members of the county staff. I am proud to have worked with them. Harry Burgess you have done an excellent job as County Manager. You have assembled a first-rate Senior Management Team. Together you have made great improvements to life in Los Alamos.

I urge the new council and Harry to aggressively pursue Gross Receipts Tax payments from the LANL prime contractor. A business’s impact on the provision of municipal services can be measured by the size of its work force. Under New Mexico law that impact is compensated for by the Gross Receipts Tax, which pays about 85 percent of municipal revenues statewide. It is morally unconscionable to me that a business employing over two-thirds of our workforce should be exempt from taxes. This moral fault is not what is called “invincible ignorance” in my faith tradition. The NNSA is well-aware of their obligation to Los Alamos.

Finally, a few weeks ago Antonio Maggiore and I were meeting with some scouts. One of them asked what we wanted our “legacy” to be. I’ve since given that question some more thought. I am sad that my term on Council is over, but I hope to continue working on my legacy – my work with the youth of our community – encouragement, leadership training and recognition for their accomplishments.”

Izraelevitz said he wanted to also take the opportunity to thank Councilor Rick Reiss.

“You and I have served the longest. I think you joined the Council a few months after I was appointed so you and I have gone through many, many Council meetings, some short, maybe long ones together. I really appreciate your leadership when you were chair and your perspective as a business person and your background in banking and real estate. More generally your love for both family and community. I know that you won’t be contributing to the community on Council for a short term but I know that you are going to be heavily involved in the community and I appreciate your contributions there,” he said.

Reiss said he is celebrating his 75th anniversary – 75th month and that during that time the Council had one County Manager.

“Prior to me being on Council I think everybody was going through one every couple of years and I think that’s great. I appreciate the work out of the County Manager’s office and also the County Attorney’s office. I’ve dealt with a number of attorneys in the past as well at the County and we’ve really hit the jackpot with Alvin Leaphart,” he said.

“I really enjoyed being on Council but it’s time to roll off because I believe in term limits and I would be breaking the eight-year rule if I took another term. I really have enjoyed it and I appreciate everyone putting up with me,” Reiss said.

To Vice Chair Chris Chandler who is the Representative-Elect for District 43, Izraelevitz joked that he thought the Council had a four-year commitment from her.

“And you go off to the Legislature. Although we’ve only served two years together, we’ve known each other a long time. We were on the Charter review committee, we were on several subcommittees back then and I have to say I really valued your opinion as vice chair. I felt we were more of a leadership team. I felt you were a voice of reason and perspective and I’m definitely going to miss that. I look forward to visiting you at the Legislature and badgering you about the legislative agenda which we just voted on tonight. We wish you the best in the Legislature – I think we’re all confident you will be an excellent representative for us and we appreciate your service,” he said.

Chandler said she loves working with people to try to solve problems.

“We all bring different personalities and everyone has their own style. The nice thing is the styles all come together and come up with a better product. That’s what I like about sitting on Council and I certainly hope I have that piece when I’m at the Legislature,” she said. “It’s all about listening to other people, listening to the public and trying to come with a resolution that most people are generally satisfied with.”

Chandler said she had a great time in my first run in Council with Morrie (Pongratz) in the 20th century.

“I was with him there. This is a great Council also and I felt a real bonding with people over time and that’s one of the rewarding parts of being on committees and in groups. I want to say I felt that way with Harry (Burgess) and Alvin (Leaphart). I am very pleased with the way they work with Council, their quality of work, their integrity and their interest in serving the community. We share that. And it’s not like I’m leaving – just still down the street. Los Alamos is my home and I’m certainly going to be a champion for things that are important to Los Alamos and of course other areas in the district as well but my heart is here. You guys come and visit me!” she said.