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Los Alamos County Council Candidates

Los Alamos County voters will elect four county councilors in Tuesday’s general elections. The top four vote-getters among eight candidates win seats. Here are the candidates.

DAVID IZRAELEVITZ

AGE: 58

PARTY: DEMOCRAT

EDUCATION: Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT

OCCUPATION: Retired research engineer at Los Alamos National Laboratory

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: LA County Councilor last 7 years, Council Chair past two years; retired after a career as a Research Engineer and Program Manager at LANL; president, NM Municipal League; LA County Planning and Zoning Commissioner (2004-09); president and co-founder, Los Alamos Community Foundation.


HELEN M. MILENSKI

AGE: 44

PARTY: LIBERTARIAN

EDUCATION: Associate of Science in Pre-Engineering from the University of New Mexico

OCCUPATION: Research Technician with the Los Alamos National Laboratory

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I’ve gained leadership experience from forming and organizing various community groups focused on Los Alamos County issues, as well as in my role as Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party of New Mexico. However, I find my most important qualification is considering Los Alamos my home. We fight for what we love.


RANDALL RYTI

AGE: 60

PARTY:

EDUCATION: B.A. Biology, UCLA; Ph.D. Biology, UC San Diego

OCCUPATION: Retired environmental scientist and business owner, currently an independent consultant

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Neptune and Company, Inc. co-founder; Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) Board, 6 years; Transportation Board, 4 years; Los Alamos County District Science Fair, volunteer, 13 years; Graduate of Leadership Los Alamos.


SARA SCOTT

AGE: 59

PARTY: DEMOCRAT

EDUCATION: B.S. Chemistry; Ph.D. Inorganic Chemistry; NATO National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow; Los Alamos National Laboratory Postdoctoral Fellow.

OCCUPATION: Retired/consultant

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Perspective of a 30-year Los Alamos County resident. Leadership experience from my roles as scientist, Division Leader and Program Director at Los Alamos National Laboratory – responsibilities included budgets of more than $100M/year, over 400 staff, diverse facility operations, strategic planning and implementation, and constructive engagement with federal program leaders.


JAMES ROBINSON

AGE: 29

PARTY: DEMOCRAT

EDUCATION: Bachelor’s of Business Administration: Operations Management

OCCUPATION: Los Alamos National Laboratory

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Third-generation Los Alamos native. Co-founder of a local nonprofit. Chair of Environmental Sustainability Board. Ran the effort to approve the UNM-LA mill levy.


DAWN TRUJILLO VOSS

AGE: 40+

PARTY: REPUBLICAN

EDUCATION: A.S. Biotechnology; A.S. Medical Radiography; B.S. Project Management

OCCUPATION: Performance Assurance at Los Alamos National Laboratory

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: 15 years of work at Los Alamos National Laboratory; Chair of two Worker Safety and Security Teams at Los Alamos National Laboratory; a former volunteer with Stars Rotary Clubs; member of No Labels; resident and taxpayer of Los Alamos County.


BRADY BURKE

AGE: 58

PARTY: REPUBLICAN

EDUCATION: B.S. Computer Science

OCCUPATION: Senior Datacenter Administrator

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Voter and taxpayer


JOHN BLISS

AGE: 67

PARTY: REPUBLICAN

EDUCATION: Master’s degree from Texas A&M University in nuclear engineering.

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: 22 years in the Army; certified as a fellow of the Health Physics Society; worked at Los Alamos National laboratory for 22 years; trustee at The United Church.


1. Explain why you are running for County Council and what you see as the biggest issues for the county.

IZRAELEVITZ: Los Alamos County is at a crossroads: we have a new management contract at LANL, many new families are moving into town and the economic development efforts of the past 10 years are finally bearing fruit. I am running for re-election because I believe my experience over the past seven years as a Councilor and my clear emphasis on strategic investments to promote Los Alamos as a great place to live, work and recreate is of special value to our community at this critical time.

An immediate critical issue is the question of the taxability of the new LANL management contract. I have been very pro-active in discussions with all our partners, in the legislature, at the federal level, and regionally, to make the case that it is critical for the Federal government to pay its appropriate share of the cost of providing resources to our community that will make Los Alamos, and the region, an asset, not a liability, as LANL seeks about 1,000 new hires per year. With whatever resources we have, we need to keep our schools outstanding, promote a diversified and affordable housing stock, and support other amenities to attract the best and the brightest to our community that will keep LANL productive and competitive. And we need to do this without reducing the key qualities that have made our community one of the best places to live in the country.

ROBINSON: As a Los Alamos native, Los Alamos has always been my home. I was educated in Los Alamos from elementary school all the way through my Associate degree from UNM-LA. Even as I furthered my education at the main UNM campus, Los Alamos remained my home away from home. Many of my milestones in life happened in Los Alamos, my first job, my first apartment and my first purchased home.

Since returning to Los Alamos after my undergraduate degree, I have been an active member of the community. I currently serve as chair of the Environmental Sustainability Board. I co-founded a nonprofit for wildlife rehabilitation, which brought New Mexico’s first ever Bear Festival to Los Alamos. I graduated from Leadership Los Alamos and chaired the committee for the UNM-LA mill levy.

My focus on council would be: upgrading and expanding infrastructure and housing, clarification of the county ordinances, expansion of the county’s environmental initiatives, and development of tourism and recreation.

Our county has an exciting yet challenging future ahead, and many of these initiatives will be dependent on the path of the LANL contract and GRT funds. The next council will need to hear and effectively communicate with its citizens to make these long-term decisions. I believe I can provide an open channel for the citizens and a unique voice for those decisions.

If you would like to know more, please visit my website at www.vote-robinson.com.

RYTI: I’m a first-time candidate running for a seat on the Los Alamos County Council. I’ve lived in Los Alamos for more than 25 years; I’ve raised a family here and with my partners at Neptune and Company, I helped to start a successful consulting company. Over the years, I’ve seen how I can make a difference by being an active participant and leader in my company, as well as local organizations. I sold my ownership in the company, and have the time, interest and enthusiasm to serve as your County Councilor.

One important role for the County Council is to set the budget. The budget addresses basic services (such as police and fire) and continued improvements to or maintenance of our infrastructure. I am in favor of using our core values to define what is funded.

One core value is the stability and long-term viability of our economy. To address this core value, the county should allocate funding to address the availability of housing for a variety of income levels and stages in life. I would like to see us consider ways to redevelop underutilized or develop vacant properties for housing or commercial uses. Expanded housing options should help our current major employer, Los Alamos National Laboratory, attract new hires and also help the county attract new companies. Diversifying and expanding our local businesses, in particular small businesses, provides expanded arrays of goods and services to residents and visitors, and also helps to broaden the tax base.

SCOTT: Living in Los Alamos for close to 30 years has provided me with a broad perspective regarding the many benefits that Los Alamos and White Rock have to offer. It has also provided a perspective on changes the county will be going through in the upcoming years; changes that will present challenges, but also opportunities to make our community stronger. I would like to put my leadership experience to work to help the county thrive as we move forward.

Through knocking on doors, participating in meetings of community organizations, meeting with county staff and business leaders, and attending local events, I’ve heard about a wide variety of issues important to many in the community, including: Identifying how to increase the amount and types of housing options; supporting our school system and the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos; growing a few more businesses (from restaurants and shops to tech startups) and amenities; enhancing county support and opportunities for our local businesses; protecting and maintaining our open spaces; addressing long-term building vacancies in key areas of the community; and assuring fiscal responsibility in balancing care for our current infrastructure while investing in the future.

Since my retirement from Los Alamos National Laboratory, I feel I have the time and a duty to commit to our community in a more focused way and help keep Los Alamos County the amazing place that it is today. I look forward to the opportunity to serve.

MILENSKI: I was convinced to run by people who appreciated my community activism in co-creating an oversight board for the Community Development Division’s Code Compliance duties. After the experience of collaborating with other individuals and groups on this and other issues, I felt I could be an effective and fair voice on the council.

Los Alamos is facing unique financial concerns from the LANL contract change and increased hiring, which will lead to higher population growth than the norm in the short term. The community has voiced concerns over the ever-expanding county budget, often overriding the expressed will of the residents. While the new Lab contractor indicated they intend to donate an amount close to what the GRT would have been, this donation appears to be voluntary, and the county has no power to compel those revenues if the Lab contractors change their mind. The county used previous Lab-derived GRT revenue to greatly expand staff and assets that incur ongoing costs. Any payments by the new Lab contractor should be treated as non-baseline revenue, put in a special fun and not considered part of the normal budget.

Los Alamos has serious growing pains; lack of housing and the need for diversity in business. We need someone that can address spending and hold the county leadership to a high standard of integrity. I favor a lean county government that emphasizes discretion in spending while intelligently investing in infrastructure and amenities to support economic diversity in the county.

TRUJILLO VOSS: The spark that prompted me to run for Los Alamos County Council occurred when my 70+ father-in-law was given short notice to remove a carport cover that had been standing for ten years. Notice of Violations such as this sparked outrage among the residents of Los Alamos and White Rock, N.M. The public outcry fell upon deaf ears at Los Alamos County Council meetings. The lack of empathy and willingness from Los Alamos County to work with the groups speaking out was disturbing. The Notice of Violation process is one example of how the county government is operating without communication and public input.

I have found that there is a disconnect between Los Alamos County government and the residents of Los Alamos County. My goal as a counselor is to be an advocate and a voice for the residents of Los Alamos and White Rock, N.M. I want to be part of a new council that is accountable and transparent, an ally to small businesses and fiscally responsible. Most importantly, I want the county government to work for us, the residents of Los Alamos and White Rock, N.M., and not operate with a separate agenda and vision.

BURKE: My platform is simple; the Los Alamos County government has grown so large and the County Council so detached from the voters and taxpayers that they no longer work for or represent the citizens of the county.

As the County Council has become a puppet of county government, the taxpayers can no longer depend on the oversight that the council should provide for citizens. As a result, the county government operates with impunity in raising utility rates, taxes, staffing and overreach.

Our county government paid $2 million to prep the ground in White Rock for the new housing development, then sold the land to the developers for $400K. Those were your tax dollars that the county gave away.

The county sold prime property to an out-of-state firm to build another Starbucks. No alternative uses were presented to council, including a design and use by a local business.

• Recreational Bond spending contrary to voters’ wishes.

• Cutting back the Sheriff’s Office when voters chose to keep it.

• Accusations of illicit spending with off-the-hill organizations.

• Streams of lawsuits against the county and the council by former police officers, the sheriff and citizens.

Our county government grows with almost every council session. Our County Council has failed to reign in the county government. The council has failed us as our elected representatives. We need elected officials that will hold the county government accountable to the voters and the taxpayers. We need a council that puts Los Alamos first.

BLISS: We’ve had a lot of controversy on the County Council in recent years. I felt that with my background and experience, I could help. A lot of my work with the Army was with groups trying to reach a consensus and I worked a lot with NATO try to get different governments to reach a consensus.

I think government works best when there’s a consensus among various views. It sometimes can help to have consensus to start with, but when people with different views and different experiences work on consensus, you get the best solution, I believe. I think we’re in danger of having a single party on the County Council and I can bring a set of different views to the council.

I will work to make sure the county makes improvements. Some of the issues are a lack of housing, economic development, broadening the economic base, getting support for small businesses and making county government a friendly place to get help. If you want a building permit, it should be easy.


BACKGROUND QUESTIONS

1. Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?

IZRAELEVITZ: No.

ROBINSON: No.

RYTI: No.

SCOTT: No

MILENSKI: No.

TRUJILLO VOSS: No.

BURKE: Declined to answer as intrusive and irrelevant.

BLISS: No.

2. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?

IZRAELEVITZ: No.

ROBINSON: No.

RYTI: No.

SCOTT: No

MILENSKI: Over 20 years ago, I filed a joint bankruptcy as part of a divorce agreement.

TRUJILLO VOSS: No.

BLISS: No.

BURKE: Declined to answer as intrusive and irrelevant

3. Have you ever been arrested for, charged with or convicted of drunken driving, any misdemeanor or any felony?

IZRAELEVITZ: No.

ROBINSON: No.

RYTI: No.

SCOTT: No.

MILENSKI: I have never been arrested for any reason.

TRUJILLO VOSS: No.

BURKE: Declined to answer as intrusive and irrelevant.

BLISS: No.

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