Statement to Kiwanis Club Candidate Forum: Why I’m Running for Re-Election

October 4, 2016

I’m Pete Sheehey. I have lived and worked as a Lab scientist here thirty years, first a single person, then with a family, and now as a retired person. When I knocked on doors four years ago and asked people what they wanted from county government, they told me to go ahead with the most important investments for our future, but don’t spend too much, and make sure we get good value for taxpayers’ dollars. That’s what I have worked for. I’m proud that we have gone ahead with projects like the Teen Center, the Nature Center, and the new White Rock Library. We are fortunate that we can afford investments like this, while still maintaining reasonable financial reserves.

I am focused as a Councilor on working toward a better future for this town, based upon listening to the community. A growing and diversified local economy will make this a better place for all of us, and for the Lab to attract good people and their families.

The biggest issue that I see today is: how do we prepare for and find consensus on this town’s future? There’s a new generation coming to work here, and they see a lot of the same things I saw when I first came: a healthy and beautiful environment, challenging work, and friendly, interesting people. We need to make important investments so that these people will want to stay: infrastructure to offer better places to live and work, improvements in services to help small businesses grow, support for our public schools, and recreational amenities. Priorities for these investments must be set by listening to our citizens and finding the common ground.

The cards I leave when I come to people’s doors say I’m about communication, prioritization, sustainability, and fiscal responsibility. Communication starts with listening. I have plenty of confidence in my ability to understand and solve problems: my PhD in Physics and scientific career here are evidence of that. But many big problems have both technical and social aspects, and the more you listen to everyone, the better chance you have of finding solutions that everyone can live with. So my approach is to present my ideas, listen to everyone, and try to find some common ground that we can build on. That’s how I think elected representatives need to work; that’s how we can find our priorities on what’s best for the whole community.

Sustainability and fiscal responsibility can work together. We should transition to less polluting, more renewable energy generation and county operations. If we do this right, it will save money. With the Council, I have asked staff to come up with smaller budgets for some capital improvements, and we’ve ended up with good facilities for about half the original estimates. Los Alamos will remain a prosperous town, even with the uncertainties of Lab contracts and budgets. We can afford the important things, as long as we make good choices.

County government must continually earn people’s trust if support for such investments is expected. That trust is earned when everyone in county government does business with integrity and treats all people with respect. The Council should not micro-manage county operations, but it must oversee operations diligently.

Take a look at my website, I am happy to offer my knowledge and skills to help us move to a better future. I would be honored to serve you on the Council for another four years. Thank you.