Pete P&Z

Statement to the Los Alamos Monitor for interview published February 14, 2010

I have obtained more than the required number of signatures to be on the June Primary Election ballot for the Democratic Party nomination for New Mexico House of Representatives, District 43.

I am running because I agree with many people who have been telling me that New Mexico state government needs to be much more open, ethical, and accountable. If you have the time, you can go down to the Round House when the Legislature is in session, listen to the hearings, maybe even get to make a statement. But does your voice get listened to as much as that of special interests who make huge campaign contributions? Once the decisions are made, it can be very difficult to find out just where New Mexico state funds are going. Voters are understandably upset when they read about multi-million dollar scandals involving state funds, and are then told that we need to raise taxes to pay for such essential services as education and health care.

I strongly support some basic reforms recommended by bi-partisan groups such as Think New Mexico These reforms can help prevent these scandals, and will let the people see how and where their tax dollars are being spent. I think that tax revenues spent wisely on education, health care, and renewable energy are good investments for New Mexico, and will pay off for all of us in the long run. But we have to be totally honest with the voters about the costs and benefits, and we must earn their trust if we expect them to support such things.

I was born in Huntington Park, California in 1952. I grew up in Southern California in a working class family that placed great importance on getting a good education; my sisters and I all went to college and earned advanced degrees. I worked summers for minimum wage (then $1.65 an hour) in the same factory where my father worked. I earned a scholarship to go to college at UC Santa Cruz, served as a computer technician in the US Air Force from 1976 to 1979, worked a while, and then went back to school, finally at UCLA, to become a scientist.

When I came here as a graduate student at LANL in 1986, I immediately felt that I fit in and I could contribute to the work of the Lab and this community. For an applied physicist like myself, I've felt like a kid in a candy store. I finished my PhD here and became a staff member in X division, where I have worked on controlled fusion nuclear energy and nuclear weapons safety and reliability. I am proud of the contribution we have made at LANL to our nation's security. I know we will continue to make significant contributions, whether it is in defense or sustainable energy or environmental protection.

My first political involvement here was in the 1990's with the Los Alamos Committee on Arms Control and International Security. LACACIS is a bi-partisan group that studies arms control and related issues. We have had significant success over the years in getting support from Senators Domenici, Bingaman, and Udall for sound treaties and policies that increase our national security. I presently serve as the President of LACACIS.

I have been on the Los Alamos County Planning and Zoning Commission since 2008; I am now the Vice-Chair. It has given me a good education in County issues and government. I have seen some unintended consequences of laws. For example, we have fairly strict zoning regulations which do protect the character of neighborhoods. But those regulations can sometimes get in the way of small business development which we desperately need. When we evaluate a proposal, the P & Z Commission has to follow the laws passed by the County Council. We encourage businesses to find ways to work within those laws, and we recommend policy improvements to the Council.

My background as a scientist should be helpful in understanding and dealing with energy and environmental issues. I believe that all forms of renewable energy, from wind and solar to nuclear, need to be considered. The true costs of all renewable energies must be evaluated against the true costs of fossil fuels, including environmental degradation and international economic impact. That's how a free economy should work. The role of the government is to insure a level playing field and to look forward as conditions change.

I am recently married to a very bright and beautiful woman, Naishing Key. We were both very active in the political campaign of 2008. I knocked on many doors and talked to a lot of people. I didn't always convince people to take my side, but with most people I could find some things we agree on. Almost everybody I talked to expressed the desire for more transparent and accountable government at all levels. I really enjoy talking to voters, and I frequently pick up refreshing ideas from them. That's what got me starting to think about running for office myself. I realized that my experiences and expectations are representative of the people in this district, and that I could be a good representative for them in the State Legislature. I look forward to discussing with them what their state representative might do to better serve the people of District 43 and the state of New Mexico.