County Council – (Sigh) More Of The Same

Letter To The Editor_Pongratz Endorses Chris Chandler For House District 43 Seat (11).jpg


In case you missed the Jan. 29 Los Alamos County Council meeting, there was an agenda item to fill the Council seat vacated by Christine Chandler.

On Jan. 15, there was one applicant for the seat.  By the deadline of Jan. 24, there were 10.  The list of applicants included enthusiastic citizens, small business owners, candidates that ran in the last election, a professional engineer with a history as a professional electrician, an international negotiator that served on the Planning and Zoning Commission and another with an MBA and tons of experience.

  • Questions were asked for each candidate to answer:
  • What Boards and Commissions had they served on?
  • Does the candidate have time for this responsibility and how do they see the role of the County Councilor?
  • What was each applicant’s view of the Strategic Plan and did they have any additional ideas?

Those with management or leadership experience had direct answers.  The former candidates knew their platform and that is what they brought to the discussion.  Others were either enthusiastic or seriously focused.

Everyone had a chance to speak and I was impressed with the pool of candidates from which to choose.  There were several in the group that represented small business and economic growth.  There were those that brought vast experiences in working with large organizations and leadership experience.

Candidates that ran in the recent elections were among the applicants.  Two had run for Council seats and one had run for Sheriff.  Each of Council candidates had garnered about 10-11% of the votes that were cast.  Either would have been a good choice as a representative of the remaining voters.  The Sheriff candidate retained a community service position and still wanted to serve.

Any of the small business owners would have been a good choice as they knew the issues that the County faces economically and what it takes for a small business to survive.

The candidates with management and leadership history would have been good choices, bringing experience with large organizations and resolution of complex issues with them to our County. We all know it is sorely needed.

I suspected it would be a tough vote.  Not so.  It took a couple of rounds to winnow the field, but the outcome left me dumbfounded.

In the end, who did the Council select?  Not the business owners or the business leaders. Not the former candidates that represented a significant percentage of the voters that may have felt disenfranchised.  The final vote chose the individual that had not served on any local board or commission.  The individual that had no significant financial, management or leadership experience.  This is not a slight on her profession or her enthusiasm.  It is a statement that there were better choices for better reasons and the Council avoided them.

They selected the applicant that they could manage.  The one that would vote the way they were told.  The one that would not rock the boat.

This isn’t an issue about party lines.  It is about how our County should be governed.  The Council should be representative of the citizenry, regardless of political affiliation.  But the efforts that most of the Council took to avoid selecting someone that might take a different approach tells me that we once again have the Council of the Unanimous Vote – the Council that works for the County government and not the voters.  We have a Council that is opposed to diversity of idea, intelligent discourse and the voice of the voters.

Council chambers will again be void of citizens, knowing that although they speak, they will not be heard.

We have two years to see if this Council represents change, or just more of the same. Let’s see what they do to us in that time.  Raise taxes?  Raise utility rates (Already in process!)?  Spend millions of dollars on a nuclear reactor (Coming in March)?  Send our wages and tax dollars off the hill by not training and hiring locally?  Grow the County government at your expense?  Count on it!

I’m ready for change now, but I can wait two years.

Brady Burke