BY GRANT HARDING
I’m writing to declare my endorsement for Randall (Randy) Ryti for County Council.
A number of people have made compelling arguments in their endorsements. With my endorsement, I would like to focus on some specifics I believe have the greatest impact to the future of this county.
When some of Randy’s fellow Councilors were weary of public comments that were critical of their actions, they sought to weaponize civility and limit public comment during Council meetings. Chair Ryti resisted their neoliberal impulses and allowed public comment to carry on even if it was not flattering to all Councilors. For that transgression, Councilor and former Chair David Izraelevitz sought to unseat Randy and reclaim the position of Chair for himself on the grounds that Chair Ryti had not stopped public comment that some found objectionable. That argument is exactly why Randy belongs right where he is. We’re fortunate he kept the Chair position because just a few months later the same Councilors tried again to limit public comment, this time through an agenda item and vote, and Randy again resisted and won.
During the appointment of Councilor Hand to fill James Robinson’s seat, we were told that email endorsements were being weighed against the overwhelming comments during the meeting in favor of Aaron Walker to justify the appointment. Later, during what would be Councilor Lepsch’s appointment fill Sean Williams’ seat, the public overwhelmingly supported Aaron Walker both in email and in comment during the meeting. Randy made public the number of email endorsements Council had received for each applicant (far more for Aaron than any other applicant) and went on to be the sole voice of reason and integrity by casting his vote for Aaron, acknowledging the precedent set during Councilor Hand’s appointment.
For these reasons alone, Randy should be reelected to Council, but if you need further justifications here are a few. I’ll just refer to the neoliberals as “they”.
When they suggested hybrid meetings should end once the COVID risks were reduced, Randy preserved Zoom accessibility for constituents.
When they suggested that some boards and commissions should be dissolved – this on the heels of a number of high-profile resignations and recommendations embarrassing to those Councilors – Randy defended those bodies as important ways for the public to engage in the democratic process.
When they rejected out of hand the downtown retail overlay, Randy supported the motion to seek a scientific study of the reasons rental rates for retail space are so high in Los Alamos.
When they inexplicably removed the word transparency from the Council’s strategic goals, Randy proposed language to reintroduce it. They won that round, but Randy advocated for the core value.
I and others who represent the future of the Democratic Party here in Los Alamos have vocally and publicly disagreed with a number of Randy’s votes, and we will continue to do so when warranted. He, like all public servants, has sometimes been imperfect in his actions. It is also true, though, that Randy has demonstrated a willingness to listen, to keep avenues for public engagement and dissent open. He’s shown he has the ability to evolve in his positions and actions.
It’s worth noting, yet again, that Randy was one of only two Councilors to vote against the land handout to Marriott.
These are just a few of the reasons I’ll be voting for Randy’s reelection, and I implore my fellow community members to do the same.