BY MAIRE O’NEILL
This is the final part of a five part series put together to give Los Alamos County voters an opportunity to read word-for-word what the candidates had to say during the September 29 League of Women Voters Candidate Forum. Watch for coverage of the second forum, which included Rep. Christine Chandler, Magistrate Judge Candidates Catherine Taylor and Tim Bullock, Sheriff Candidates Jason Wardlow-Herrera and Chris Luchini, Assessor Candidates George Chandler and Laura Burrows, Municipal Judge Elizabeth Allen and Probate Judge Michael Redondo. Part five contains candidates answers about supporting going green with solar and wind as well as the closing comments.
Do you support our town going completely green with solar and wind?
Reginald Page – Republican
First of all that’s not a viable solution. You’ve got to have other sources of electricity to be able to sustain any city, regardless. I do support the wind and solar initiative but I think there are other things to look at in this county before we start implementing those types of initiatives. First is working on our current infrastructure and getting that up to par to where it can handle what we already have and what the plan is to move forward in the future.
Suzie Havemann – Democrat
Yes I do, knowing full well that that is an ambitious goal here just like it is worldwide across our country. I think we need to be a partner in trying to achieve those goals for the state of New Mexico and the U.S. I think that we need to make sure that we’re working on technologies to firm up our power so that we can avoid intermittency problems. We’re not going to get there if we don’t have it as an objective. As we start electrifying and having more electric vehicles in our fleet and trying to electrify our buildings, our power demand is going to increase a lot and we don’t have right now all the firmed up resources in the renewable space to meet that expected demand so without question we’re going to have to look at battery storage, hydrogen, other backup needs to make sure we get there. But to answer the question quickly – yes, I support that.
Gary Stradling – Republican
The question was do we support the town going completely green and my answer is that we act locally in the interest of the community. I was quite concerned that the county dictated the terms of reference to the LARES committee to come to a total carbon-free outcome in a short period of time. It takes time to do this and we’ve been working on technology for a long time to address some of these issues and it’s not there yet. I have installed solar on my own roof and it was a fun and interesting project and I like having that reliable source of energy in an uncertain world, but I don’t think that the county is ready to go green yet and we should go at the pace that technology allows us to go as we listen to the county utilities folks talk about the concerns with going solar too fast and the other barriers that’s a real issue. Right now natural gas is the cheapest and most plentiful and relatively low polluting form of energy so let’s do what’s reasonable for our people and gradually get to longer-term solutions. This earth has been around for about 4.6 billion years. We’ve had a great deal of oscillation in climate and we’re surrounded by evidences of dramatic changes in the world. That’s our future as well as our past and we need to learn to be adaptive.
Melanee Hand – Democrat
As much as I would like to support going completely green with solar and wind, after I talked to Philo Shelton over at the county utilities department, I don’t think that’s something that we’re able to do viably right now. Hopefully we can work in that direction but I think we have a few hurdles based on the demands that we have for energy.
Theresa Cull – Democrat
Yes, I think we should be a green community but it’s not going to happen overnight. Nobody’s saying you can flip a switch and tomorrow we’re going to be green. We’ve got to start moving in that direction. We’re running out of time. So we’ve got to start pushing the technology and we really do need to get rid of natural gas. It can be cheap but it’s not good for you to have natural gas in your home. There are links to a variety of illnesses in children from natural gas. It’s unhealthy. Let’s move to something that’s much more healthy for our communities. Let’s cut back on the number of asthmatic children in our communities by having natural green sources not unnatural gas in our homes.
Randall Ryti – Democrat
As some people have noted in their responses, that’s actually not a viable solution. The wind doesn’t blow sometimes and the sun doesn’t shine so we’re missing something in order for it to be a workable solution. A potentially workable solution is having green sources plus storage but we have a 100 megawatt demand when you look at the county and the Lab so it’s a fairly large demand. DOE also has green goals. What we’re looking at is the county has had a carbon-neutral goal on electric production for many years of targeting 2040 and the only thing that LARES did was move that up to 2035. LARES has a lot of other recommendations that have to do with actually solving the problem some of which is we have hydroelectric plants already, we have some solar on the old landfill so we have some options already. I do support us going in this direction but I’m not supporting us going in a direction that obviously can’t work. So we have to have an approach that’s going to work. We have to have storage. The county has been working with DOE and the operating contractors Triad and N3B about different kinds of utility projects.
James Wernicke – Libertarian
I agree it’s definitely the goal we should be striving for and it’s not going to happen overnight. I think that nuclear power gets a bad rap, that there should be a lot more discussion about nuclear power plant, reactors and things of that nature. We’re a freakin’ nuclear research lab up here – what the heck! Fossil fuels suck. Right now they’re the most reliable source of energy but we shouldn’t just give up because it’s hard to switch over to renewables and cleaner fuels and cleaner energy. Yeah, let’s keep going towards the goal of solar and wind.
Closing Comments – One minute limit
I will continue to work to find solutions for challenging problems like housing. I’ve learned a lot from projects that have been completed or are nearing completion in the county, including the potential for obstacles along the way. My past experience and lessons learned from the last four years on council will guide me to continue to make informed decisions on behalf of the community that are practical and feasible. For those who know me – I’m big on transparency and have always been available to meet and discuss any topic. I expect the same of others. I ask the council and staff be available to answer questions and documents without bureaucratic obstacles and continue to offer multiple methods to communicate with council that include additional methods such as web portals for agenda item comments. Thanks again to the League for the opportunity to speak and answer questions. I’m excited about the campaign and the opportunity to continue the conversation with the community between now and Nov. 8.
We need county councilors who have experience in and care about this community. I hope my answers here have shown you that I can represent this community well on the county council. I’m a good listener. I appreciate the diversity of opinions and needs in this community. I value our open spaces and the quality of life our town provides. I’m ready to work for you.
I’ve been a teenager, a parent and a daughter of aging parents here in Los Alamos. I’ve experienced Los Alamos and White Rock through a multitude of lenses and I hope those diverse perspectives will be helpful to the county, the council and citizens. Which leads me back to you, I do want to hear your perspectives. Listening and learning are essential as we work together to address not only today’s top issues but tomorrow’s as well. I think I have the background and the skill sets to adapt, listen, learn and read.
I have lived in this community for several decades. I’ve worked in this community for the Lab for 37 years, for a small business, for county council and I’ve also supported many nonprofit organizations and county boards and committees over several decades. So I have the experience and the education and background to continue doing work to serve the county. I appreciate your vote.
We have to understand how things work and operate the way they work. The fact that water flows downhill means that irrigation ad hydrologic power can be accomplished. We need to pay attention to economics and the economics of housing is that supply and demand are critical elements. We have to have the supply of housing in order to bring down the costs in order to enable the workers to be in the community to enable the businesses to start and be staffed. Those are really critical things. As I go out and knock on doors in the community almost everybody agrees with that statement. They say, “Yes, that’s absolutely true”. We need to respect the whole community. It is a very diverse and interesting group of people and a wonderful group of people. We must listen to the voters when they say, “Yes’ or when they say, “No”. When they say, “No” we have to say, “Okay, we’ll follow your direction”.
The few things I want to close with here is I am for environmental solutions in this county as long as they be more towards reasonable and economical way of implementing those environmental need and meeting certain goals in our county without playing the residents of this county with (inaudible) costing and unnecessary heartache in going forward. I want to look for solutions for small businesses and help them cultivate that area in growing our small business community. Also I have 30 plus years in utilities both at Los Alamos and other locations.
I just want to let you guys know that I want to be a councilor that doesn’t just talk but acts. Whatever your concerns are, I would love to talk to you about it. I think I have a positive attitude and can work with the communities in this group. – Getting things done. That’s why I’m running. I feel like these changes are just happening too slow and I’m happy go listen to people that disagree with me on that. We gotta work it out so that everyone gets what they want.