Republican candidate for Los Alamos County Council David Reagor, top row, center, speaks Friday during a virtual townhall campaign event. Screenshot/Los Alamos Reporter
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Republican candidate for Los Alamos County Council David Reagor said during a virtual campaign townhall Friday night that there’s no one representing White Rock at all.
“That did not start as a trigger for me getting into the campaign. It just came in later when people were saying there’s no one representing White Rock. It’s not just that there are Republicans (on Council), it’s no one from White Rock either. We really need a voice there and standing up for what’s best for White Rock,”Reagor said.
He said he thinks what Los Alamos will do because Los Alamos National Laboratory wants more housing and “there’s got to be housing somewhere” is they will probably put all of it in White Rock.
“If they had a garbage dump to build, they would build it in White Rock. We need to represent our own town. We need somebody on the board who is representing us. Otherwise we just get the tail end of everything,” Reagor said.
He said White Rock just can’t absorb more housing without more infrastructure and support on a bigger scale.
“We have that one tiny highway serving the town and we just can’t absorb a lot more people in this town. All the traffic comes down Pajarito Road and comes through White Rock. The highway is jammed up every day. We get jammed up on the way in and on the way out and we have that one two-lane road serving this community and we simply just can’t add a lot more housing without somebody giving us something else,” Reagor said. “A bigger highway – the state or the Lab or the DOE – somebody on a much bigger financial scale than us has to bring in something to support us if they want us to have more houses. We can’t do that many more houses. We are full of people.”
Reagor said he worked at the Lab for some 32 years at the Lab and retired in the 2018 transition. He said Los Alamos County has always been a great place to live and that like many people, he and his wife “create part of the housing bottleneck” because they retired and then never left.
“Much of the reason this is a nice place to live is that we have had a long history of conservative management of the town. They thought way ahead with things like the big hydroelectric project that provides a lot of our electricity and that had to be planned a long time ago. We have to pay attention to those things in the future,” he said.
Reagor said what he sees in town is a real lack of support for the business community and that the business community is “kind of in decline”.
“You can see it as you drive around town. It looks like a ghost town in a lot of areas and we have to take that as the job of the County Council to create a positive environment for business,” he said. “I think we all know the Unquarked story and it looks to me like it’s simply unfair treatment – inappropriate treatment under law – and that everyone has to be treated with the same opportunities and you have to get consistency in the law. If we have a restaurant moving into a restaurant, then no changes to the building because the previous Blue Window was operating legally as a restaurant so they had all of the utilities in place and the building in place so they don’t need a building permit to hook up a bunch of appliances. That kind of thing causes me a great deal of concern.”
Reagor criticized the County for being involved in the green energy power plan saying the whole state of New Mexico is negligible in the worldwide carbon project. He said for the town of Los Alamos, “you serve your public by just simply keeping your utility rates low and that’s our most important issue”.
“On top of that we can sit and argue for a long time the merits of the whole global warming discussion which is actually pretty difficult,” he said.
Reagor said he is concerned the green energy project could turn into a huge financial burden for the County.
“There are a lot of people in the County who are not high income and we don’t need wealthy people thinking that this is a county where we can just run up the utility budget or have really high bills for all of our people. There are all kinds of low income people around town and all kinds of people that are retired and on a fixed income and all kinds of people in the service industry – blue collar and they need a reasonable place to live and we’re not trying to make the town miserable for them,” he said. “It is very important to hold your line and that is your duty to the people of the County.”
Reagor said the climate issue is what got him into the race and then the development issues came on top of that.
“You really need a supportive community that is pro-business and I don’t mean pro-Marriott or Amazon or some giant business, I mean local businesses. You need people who live here, people who keep the money in the community, people who buy houses, people who use the schools and are concerned about the schools,” he said.
Reagor believes the downtown White Rock area is really well suited to senior housing. He said there is very little senior housing and retired people often want to give up their house and move into an apartment. He said retail was always very tricky in the downtown area because people really had to make an effort to go there.
“You have to make such a big mental effort to go there. Not like the area that the Lab took that’s really prime. It’s where they have the training center. It was a great retail center – more exposed,” he said.
Reagor said nuclear power option is the best thing we can do in this current environment.
“It’s power you can control and we can even eventually have it placed in the County, maybe at the Lab. Without that, if the state really turns off our carbon power and the governor really goes through with that – then we need that kind of solution,” he said.
Reagor blamed the “over-representation of the Democrats” for “really driving this downward trend in the County”.
“They do not have a feel for supporting business. They simply think of the County as mostly the government and they look down at the public and they simply just don’t support any of them,” he said. “So we have the great example of Unquarked but there are a lot of other ones that have had less publicity and been less destructive. Everybody struggles with the County government as kind of an opposition.”
Asked how County government can make a difference in the high rent for businesses and what he would do to make a difference, Reagor said he thinks the main problem with the businesses for a number of years has been partly addressed here by “the Lab taking stock, stopping to rent real estate in town”.
“I think as long as we continue to do that we will have some opportunities but we can’t let them expand anything. They are the main real estate crunch. We essentially have an island type economy but then the Lab keeps moving into the town and buying property or renting property. So, we have that in White Rock. We have that all over Los Alamos and when they don’t do it their subcontractors do it. And that creates a big crunch for all of the storefront properties. The continuation of that moratorium and perhaps even a rollback could be a good neighbor policy for the Lab to help our town develop and to help our town be a pleasant place to live and they can’t keep grabbing storefront space that we need for all of our other support networks,” Reagor said.
He voiced concern about DP Road because “that’s where working men go”.
“You have a bunch of housing down there and where are you going to put auto shops and lumberyards and things like that – all that’s getting squeezed,” Reagor said.
Asked about recreational capital projects, Reagor complained that capital projects had been voted down but the County is going ahead with them anyway.
“They need to have a more conservative spending plan. They just love to spend money. These recreational projects are getting over the top. They’re spending so much in so many ways that you have to think about why they’re even doing that,” he said. “For example, we have a couple of pools in White Rock that are private pools that are clubs. Are they trying to run them out of business? What exactly is their goal in opening up all this other recreation? It’s not the County’s job to build a bowling alley. It’s not the County’s job to build an indoor hockey rink. People if they want to do it, then some private people can take that risk. I don’t think it will ever happen because it’s just too small a town to support such things and that’s why you don’t see it.”
The event was moderated by Lisa Shin.