Former Los Alamos County Councilor James Rickman has announced his intention to seek another term. Photo by Maire O’Neill/Los Alamos Reporter
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
A former Los Alamos County Councilor who served from 1996 to 2000 has announced his intention to run for a Council seat in this year’s election.
James Rickman, a Libertarian told the Los Alamos Reporter that his last term in office included the Cerro Grande Fire.
“At that time I was the token councilor whose house had burned down. I actually went out to Washington and helped them write the Cerro Grande Assistance Act that helped with the rebuilding. It was a big job and it was a difficult job,” he said.
Rickman said at the time, at 32, he was the youngest councilor ever elected in Los Alamos.
“Councilor James Robinson has actually beaten that record now. I was pleased to see that happen. I would have thought that would have happened a long time ago but typically you get older folks on Council,” he said. “Had I had the wisdom that I gained in the last 30 years along with the strength, stamina and idealism that I had then, if we had politicians that had all of those qualities together, there is nothing we couldn’t do here in this community.”
He said he is now running from the perspective he had earlier on but has more life experience.
“Reflecting back on all that now, I realize that the reason I want to run again is that Los Alamos is a great community. I’ve lived here a long, long time and I think it’s essential now more than ever that we make Los Alamos the greatest community that it can be for the people who are here,” Rickman said. “That means I want to push for a really sustainable community – push to sustain the amenities that we have for the people who live here and make sure that the next generations that come here will enjoy the same quality of life that I have enjoyed here.”
Rickman said Los Alamos has always been his home and he wants other people to think of it as their home as well.
“Part of what is motivating me to run for Council this time around is that Council sets policy and County staff implements policy. That’s the way it’s always been but I have seen that change a little bit since I was on Council. I have seen the County goals sort of drift from keeping the County the best place possible for the people who live here to making the County a great place for this non-existent group of people who don’t live here yet. That seems to be the focus,” he said.
Rickman said he believes that every time you whittle away little bits of the community, you get unintended consequences.
“You get traffic, and you need more resources and more County staff, and there’s more wear and tear on things. We have a great aquifer here and it’s the right size for the current population. If we start adding a bunch of other people and we start growing the town expansively, we will outgrow the resources that we have,” he said.
He said communities around the country that got on boom cycles in the late 1990s and early 2000s are now wishing they could get their green space back.
“One of the beautiful things about this town is we have tremendous natural ammenities, we have a small town feel, we have clean air and water and a low crime rate. It’s really an ideal community and I want to keep it that way so that’s my bottom line,” Rickman said.
Rickman has a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from New Mexico State University. He has worked extensively as a journalist and photographer. He took a short stint as a public servant before becoming a science writer and public relations expert at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He retired from LANL in 2018 after 24 years of service.