Endorsement Of Sharon Dry For Los Alamos County Council

Former Congressman
Los Alamos

Discernment, honesty and courage are three excellent reasons for Los Alamos voters to vote for Sharon Dry to represent them on the Los Alamos County Council. 

Sharon has taken tremendous criticism for objecting to the current mil levy proposal for schools. I support her in that position. Here’s why.

As a parent and citizen I have chaired committees to raise the mil levy for schools. In Los Alamos I led the committee to raise taxes to extend the life of the original Aspen School building and for the construction of the new gym that Aspen Tigers use today. 

Near Springfield, Illinois, I chaired the committee to raise the mil levy to prevent a rural school district from being forced into receivership and consolidation with another district. Kindergarten students would have been riding the school bus for 2 hours every day had the mil levy not passed.  A person can loose friends by raising their neighbor’s property taxes, even for schools. It takes courage.

However, it also takes discernment to know when a mil levy is not necessary and the courage to stand against one when appropriate. Sharon Dry has that discernment and courage.

I deeply appreciate Rick Nebels’ letter to the editor in support of the mil levy and thank him for his concern. Though it did not appear to be his intention, he inadvertently he provided 3 or more reasons to vote for Sharon Dry.

I too, as a Baby Boomer, remember class sizes of 40 to 80 students. I too, have roots in Springfield, Illinois as well as Chicago. About the rejected mil levy initiatives in Springfield, Mr. Nebel stated, “They voted it down at least 3 times.  People didn’t come out and publicly oppose it, they just voted no.” The question is, why. Why did the voters of Sangamon County reject the mil levy increase? Was it because mom’s, dad’s, grandma’s and grandpa’s of Sangamon County “didn’t give a rat’s behind,” for their children’s education as Mr. Nebel asserts, or was it something else? Caution is recommended before ascribing malice to moms and grandmothers who vote.

It takes discernment to see the “something else” that causes a “NO” vote on a mil levy. The kind of discernment Sharon Dry has and the courage to say so.

First, Mr. Nebel is correct in saying that there is a danger for communities dependent on political/ government jobs, a similarity Springfield, Illinois shares with Los Alamos.  But that’s where the similarities end. In 1997 when Dr. Jim Anderson was Los Alamos school superintendent, as congressman representing Los Alamos, I pleaded with Sen. Domenici to secure the payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) structure to support Los Alamos schools in perpetuity. However, PILT payments went away. As I predicted, the $27M PILT “settlement” package to the Los Alamos schools proved insufficient to support our school district for the long run. Federal government decisions affect the Los Alamos community in ways that no “just” mil levy can remedy.

Second, Mr. Nebel’s statement, that for Springfield, “The only way to fund a new school construction was through a school bond issue,”  is only partially accurate. The Illinois legislature instituted the Illinois Income Tax in the 1960’s to augment property taxes to support education, including school construction to address the slug of Baby Boomers coming through the pipeline. However, the corrupt Mayor Daley machine in Chicago and corrupt politicians in Springfield like Secretary of State Paul Powell, (Mr. Nebel will remember Paul Powell), diverted income tax dollars intended for education toward wasteful pork spending, mostly in Chicago. 

Thanks to the Democrat Party leaders’ philosophy, policy and the behavior of some notable politicians such as Daley, Powell and their successors, today Illinois has $19B+ in obligations to schoolteacher retirement as well as other government employees that no mil levy can resolve, while school facilities built in the 1920’s and 30’s continue decay 50 years later.  New Mexico teachers should look at Illinois to see what might be in their future.

This is another reason the Los Alamos County Council needs a balance between Democrats and non-Democrats. Six Democrats to 1 Republican does not allow for robust exchange on the council.  That magnitude of party dominance, by any party, can be dangerous for a community’s future, (another reason to vote for Sharon Dry).

Third, Mr. Nebel is correct in that some state government employees would move to Springfield, i.e. Sangamon County temporarily, mostly political appointees, then return to their home when administrations changed. However, most Illinois state employees working in Springfield live in nearby Logan, Morgan, Peoria, McLean, and Macon Counties. They took their paychecks and property tax payments out of Springfield/ Sangamon County to support their own public schools where they lived, as they should. The reality is, Sangamon County taxpayers could not afford the new mil levies, so they voted them down. 

It takes discernment to see the multiple reasons why and when a mil levy should or should not be enacted. It takes honesty with fellow community members regarding long term local, regional and national economic factors that make a mil levy successful. Last, it takes courage to speak the truth to voters though it may not be popular, while easy to criticize. Our children already have a $200,000 per household debt burden. They don’t need more. Besides, it takes more than new buildings to attract the best and the brightest to LANL.
Sharon Dry is a woman of discernment, honesty and courage. Sharon understands that the politics and economics of our past cannot be the politics and economics of our future. Please vote: Sharon Dry for Los Alamos County Council.