Newly-appointed Los Alamos County Councilor Katrina Schmidt is congratulated by Council Vice Chair Pete Sheehey Tuesday evening. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Ten applicants for the vacant seat on the Los Alamos County Council awaiting their interviews are, from left, Jose Carreno, Aaron Walker, Greg Stradling, Katrina Schmidt, Brady Burke, John Bliss, Amanda Robertson, Brad Nyenhuis, Eric Stromberg and Greg White. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Katrina Schmidt, a fourth grade teacher at Barranca Mesa Elementary School, was sworn in Tuesday evening as the newest member of the Los Alamos County Council.
Schmidt was one of 10 applicants for the Council seat which became vacant when former councilor, now State Rep. Chris Chandler resigned from Council after her election to represent House District 43.
The application Schmidt submitted for the Council seat said she believes that an effective government is one that listens to its people and takes action.
“As a member of County Council I will remember the history of Los Alamos while working toward our future. I will ensure that we continue to take care of our elders while exploring what more we can do to support our youth. We also need to address the challenges our community currently faces with generational turnover at the Lab we are experiencing a housing shortage that must be remedied to accommodate population growth,” she said. “Numerous empty buildings dot our town. We need to bring in more businesses including restaurant and nature-based tourist activities. To safeguard our financial future we must work closely with state and federal officials from both parties to make the status of the GRT revenue permanent.”
Prior to interviewing the 10 candidates, Council Chair Sara Scott outlined the process for selecting a new councilor. Councilors then voted to ask four questions of the applicants.
When a motion was made to nominate and vote, an applicant had to receive a minimum of four votes. As a matter of process, the applicant with the fewest votes was to be taken off the list and then subsequent votes were to be performed until the final selection was made.
Councilor David Izraelevitz read four questions that had been prepared by him along with Councilors Antonio Maggiore and Ryti. The questions were as follows:
- Describe any Council or community board or commission involvement. What was a complex problem that you addressed? How did you attack the problem. Did it come to a resolution?
- What are your outside responsibilities and how would you manage your time among family, work and councilor responsibilities given our need for meetings, Council training and community outreach?
- Other than the County Charter, what do you see as the key roles of the Council vis a vis the public and County staff?
- What is your view of our strategic goals and do you have any proposals for other goals or the prioritization of the proposed ones?
Councilor James Robinson said with regard to the second question that he believed that everyone who had submitted an application had already weighed those options and that he didn’t think the Council needed to ask the applicants if they could balance both because he would think that in their mind they could.
“I understand that it make life a lot busier but I don’t think that it needs to be a weighing question in our decision,” he said.
Scott said she agreed with Robinson and that if the Council was agreeable Question 2 could be eliminated. Izraelevitz said in his view the importance of it is that outside special meetings, the Council has regular meetings, daytime meetings, weekend meetings.
“Some of us have legislative visits to Washington, DC and so forth and it may be just a simple yes/no answer but I would like to make sure that people have weighed some of those issues because it has come up in prior councilor roles that there’s been a conflict – unexpected but it’s been an issue and it has weighed on the ability of certain councilors to participate in certain ways,” Izraelevitz. Scott suggested combining Question 2 with Question 3.
Applicants for the Council seat were:
- Aaron Walker
- Eric Stromberg
- John Bliss
- Gary Stradling
- Katrina Schmidt
- Brad Nyenhuis
- Jose Carreno
- Amanda Robertson
- Greg White
- Brady Burke
After Council heard from all 10 applicants, all 10 were nominated and the Council proceeded to the voting process. In the first round, there were two votes for Katrina Schmidt, two votes for John Bliss and one vote each from Eric Stromberg and Brad Nyhuisen. In the next round, Schmidt and Bliss each received three votes making a tie.
Councilor Maggiore suggested that the applicants be asked additional questions. Councilor Izraelevitz asked that the vote be taken again. The final vote was four votes for Schmidt from Izraelevitz, Maggiore, Scott and Ryti with two votes for Bliss from Vice Chair Pete Sheehey and Robinson.
Newly-appointed Councilor Schmidt was sworn in by Municipal Judge Elizabeth Allen and took her seat on the dais.
Katrina Schmidt, center, signs her oath of office as Municipal Judge Elizabeth Allen, left, and Los Alamos County Naomi Maestas look on. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Katrina Schmidt is sworn in by Municipal Judge Elizabeth Allen as Neal Martin holds the bible. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com