Requested of County Council candidates by the Los Alamos Daily Post

October 18, 2012

I have friends and supporters who have strong feelings both for and against the four proposed Charter amendments, and for and against the underlying question that has driven this controversy, namely, should there be direct voter approval of some large capital improvement projects. I'm happy that they choose not to be single-issue voters over this. I do not support any of the four Charter amendments, although I think we could have effective county government under the present charter, or under any of the CRC's or LAGRI's presently proposed changes. The key to effective government is that the people and their elected representatives on the Council work together to form consensus on the big issues affecting our town. Consensus does not mean universal agreement, nor does it mean one side eaking out a 51 to 49% majority. It does mean enough agreement on an issue that you're not likely to find 1500 to 2000 citizens here (the present charter requirement) willing to sign a petition to change things.

I do support clarification of the Charter's language as proposed by the Charter Review Committee, and I support bringing the Charter's provisions on recall into agreement with the State Constitution. But the Council combined these changes with substantive changes which put tighter restrictions on citizen petitions. The Council also chose not to offer for a vote a CRC-recommended provision which would give the Council the option to ask for a direct vote on large new capital improvement projects, and a provision for legal review of proposed petitions. It was the Council's prerogative to make these moves, but by doing so, they have weakened the consensus that was developed over the long charter review process. The November vote on the four amendments is clouded by these changes. Because I am not able to vote for the changes I do support without approving changes I do not support, I cannot vote for the amendments on the ballot.

As a scientist or as a political advocate, I believe in the time-consuming processes of peer review and consensus building. I have the patience and persistence to do that. Whether the voters approve the four amendments or not, a Council that listens and continually works to build consensus on the issues facing this community is the key to effective government. That is the kind of County Councilor I intend to be.