Leadership Los Alamos Class Of 2022 Holds Session On Local Government

Amber Ortiz, Rivera Funeral Home, addresses the ‘mock council’ with a public comment during the third session of the Leadership Los Alamos recently which addressed Local Government. Photo by Kateri Morris

Steve Lynne, Los Alamos County Manager, discusses the history, organization, and structure of the County. Photo by Kateri Morris

Philo Shelton, Los Alamos County Department of Public Utilities Manager, shares about the goals, initiatives, and processes of DPU. Photo by Kateri Morris


The Leadership of Los Alamos Class of 2022 met for their third session, exploring the structure and function of the Los Alamos County Government. LA Deputy County Manager, Linda Matteson, led and coordinated the session filled with discussions with elected officials, appointed board members, and senior county staff, and a few exercises.  

The LLA class participated in a public comment exercise, where they approached the stand to address an issue of importance for the County Council to take into consideration, as they would in a live LA County Council meeting. They addressed local topics and issues such as the need for affordable housing, safe bike trails, more gym/recreational space; renovation of unused buildings, and improvements on art in public places, the golf course; and the possibility of creating a recreation center for middle school students and Historic District Advisory Board. The citizens of Los Alamos are welcome to review Council and Board meetings, online, through the LA County website. 

LA County Manager, Steve Lynne, provided the LLA students with an overview of LA County Government by taking them through its history, characteristics, structure, demographics, and budget. He described his role as County Manager and personal leadership philosophy, the services the county provides the public, and current issues they are addressing. Mr. Lynne concluded with some words of advice to the upcoming leaders: push, have persistence, have patience, be grateful, and breathe.

Philo Shelton, County Utilities Manager, gave an overview of the Department of Public Utilities’ strategic goals, objectives, and initiatives where they strive to demonstrate the highest level of excellence in meeting quality standards. He described how DPU uses data, available knowledge, performance measurement systems and performance review to identify opportunities for learning and innovation. Mr. Shelton also explained the leadership model and systematic processes necessary to achieve their goals. 

In the middle of the day, a panel of key County managers and leaders assembled to discuss the challenges and joys of working for a local government. The panel included: Jordan Garcia, DPU Power Systems Supervisor; Naomi Maestas, County Clerk; Anne Laurent, Deputy County Manager; Ty Ryburn, Human Resources Manager; and Katie Thwaits, Deputy County Attorney. Human Resources recruitment and retention, lessons learned from the pandemic, modifying services, housing construction and availability, and certain privacy and donation clauses were among the topics brought up during the panel discussion. 

Having served as County Councilor for the last four years, Sarah Scott, informed the LLA class how citizens can get involved and participate in local government. For herself, staying engaged and listening to what community members have to say is the best tool for her as a County Councilor. The best ways citizens can participate is to engage with county staff and council as much as possible and use them as a resource; be an informed voter; participate on boards, commissions, tasks forces and subcommittees, or serve as an elected official; or simply learn, ask and share. 

LA County Budget Manager, Monther Jubran, concluded the local government session with an overview of the county budget and discussed a few guiding policies, spending authority and limitations, the county’s financial structure and purpose of each fund by department and division. He also described how the budget is approved after a series of discussions and deliberations. The LLA class was given an assignment to develop a process on how to they would spend $1 million from the general fund. Each group presented their ideas.

Leadership Los Alamos is a non-profit organization whose mission is to identify current and emerging leaders in Los Alamos and surrounding communities, to enhance their leadership skills and deepen their knowledge of the challenges and opportunities facing the community. Each class learns about a variety of topics like community organizations, cultural and history, youth, education, local government, economic development, and environmental issues. For more information, go to: Leadership Los Alamos – An educational organization dedicated to the future of Los Alamos

Discussion panel members included Deputy County Managers Linda Matteson and Anne Laurent, County Clerk Naomi Maestas and Deputy County Attorney Katie Thwaits. Photo by Kateri Morris

Los Alamos County Councilor Sara Scott shares about how to effectively participate in local government. Photo by Kateri Morris

Leadership Los Alamos class members participate in a game of trivia. Photo by Kateri Morris 

Los Alamos County Budget Manager Monther Jubran gives the class an overview of the county budget. Photo by Kateri Morris

Leadership Los Alamos Class of 2022 near the Christmas tree in Los Alamos Municipal Building. Photo by Kateri Morris