Burke: The Bipartisan Voter

Candidate for County Council

Following the Rodeo parade, I had the pleasure of meeting voters from the different parties at the Republican booth. What I heard was similar to what I’ve heard while canvassing or speaking with people at other events: “Oh, a Republican. I couldn’t vote for you with that guy from your party in Washington being president.” I hear this from people I don’t know as well as those that have long been friends.

Some will say it and walk on, others will stay and see what I do with it. Let’s be clear. I’m not the guy in Washington, D.C. and he is not running for County Council. The issues and problems in Washington, D.C. are different than those we face in Los Alamos County. My goal is not to change someone’s mind or reinforce their beliefs about the president. My focus is on representing the voters and taxpayers in Los Alamos County. So how do we keep from getting our political defenses up?

I want to know what concerns YOU about the County today. The issues that we face in our County cross the political spectrum. There is not a perfect Party answer, despite what our parties tell us. The best answers will come from our collective voices, the voters and taxpayers. Once we put away political banners and talk to each other, we find that we agree on many things.

We are concerned about the rising costs of County services while, at the same time, those services are being reduced. We are troubled that the County government wants our tax dollars to build expensive buildings that are not needed, but not on items the community needs, such as the White Rock Water Treatment Plant. We feel like our concerns are left unaddressed by a Council that is unresponsive to the community, yet lives well on our tax dollars and has been caught up in controversy and lawsuits.

If this is what partisan politics has brought us, then it is time to elect candidates, regardless of party, that will overtly state their positions and specify the actions they will take to make things better. We don’t need any more talking heads, telling us what they think we want to hear.

We are fortunate that, at the County level, partisan politics plays a very small, if any, role in the duties of the County Council. The County Council is the representative of the voters and taxpayers as oversight of the County government. Their job is to make certain that the County government is working to make the lives of the citizens better and putting our tax dollars to the best use possible, not let the County government run loose like someone with their first credit card. The only way that happens is with transparency, accountability and fiscal responsibility.

The Council must be strong enough to say ‘No’ on items that don’t benefit our community and don’t support voter wishes. The County must provide at least seven days access to the Council meeting agendas and keep Council meetings to three hours or less, to encourage public participation.

There will always be those that vote along the party line, just as there will be elected officials that encourage it. If we vote with partisan blinders, we will get partisan results.  At the County level, we must vote for actions – actions that favor the public, regardless of party affiliation.   

My job as your County Councilor should be simple. I listen to you and act on what you tell me.


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