BY MAIRE O’NEILL
The Los Alamos Reporter was asked by several readers Thursday morning to look into a comment allegedly made by Gary Stradling, Republican candidate for County Council about putting up barracks and hiring “Filipinos to come to work” during a question and answer session for County Council candidates at the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce Business Breakfast for Chamber members. Readers, including some from Stradling’s party, told the Reporter they were “comment”, “disturbed” and “shocked” by his comment.
Chamber Executive Director Ryn Herrmann had asked the question, “Other than affordable housing what do you see as the biggest challenge to recruiting a consistent workforce to the Los Alamos business community and how do you plan to address this issue as a councilor?” It should be noted that the candidates received the topics for the questions in advance of the Q&A session.
Stradling’s response was as follows:
“I’m sorry, Ryn, for the way that you asked it because it’s an incorrect question. There is no way to have the workers you need without addressing the housing market. The housing is the core – you can put all, you could put barracks up here and hire Filipinos to come work, but that’s stupid. We have people here. We have a lot of (inaudible) – the solution is to have people who are in New Mexico come live here and work here. We have about 12,000 people commute into the county every day. That’s a lot of people. That’s not new, we had 8,000 to 9,000 commuting in for a decade or more but the Laboratory is going to hire another 5,500 people in the next three years. You’re going to have even more people commuting on inadequate infrastructure. The only solution is to solve this problem of inadequate housing. So I have a lot of experience dealing with bureaucrats. I didn’t go there once a year for four years. I spent much of my career in Washington, DC with senior levels of the Department of Defense, Department of Energy and Department of State. I spent three years as an international negotiator with 26 nations, the Russians and all of the Warsaw Pact, Britain and all of the NATO Pact, and I have a lot of experience doing this. I think it’s doable. That’s the only reason I am running for Council.”
Asked for a comment on his remark about Filipinos and barracks, Stradling responded as follow:.
“What I actually said was fine, but I knew as soon as I said it that it would be distorted and used against me. So I am at my desk writing a statement about the Chamber of Commerce breakfast as I received this request from you. So look for a thoughtful piece that places that statement in its completeness and context early afternoon. Briefly, I was comparing the Saudi Arabian practice of bringing Filipinos in to live in dorms because they do not have domestic demographic for labor, and said, ‘but that is stupid’, we can get the people we need to come live here in their own homes.”
Stradling then submitted a lengthy letter to the editor, which is published separately and entitled, “And the Band Played On – Three metaphors on LAC Housing”.
“The Chamber of Commerce provides this forum for the candidates to share their viewpoints on topics that impact the business community. The Chamber and LACDC are an apolitical organization,” Herrmann said Thursday afternoon in an email.
The Q&A session may be seen and heard here: