Charter Question #1 Explained At Thursday’s Forum

League of Women Voters President Barbara Caleb introduces Charter #1 panelists Larry Warner and Kyle Wheeler who discussed changes to the Charter during Thursday’s Forum, which was sponsored by Los Alamos County and facilitated by the League. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
 
By BONNIE J. GORDON
Los Alamos Daily Post

Unlike Question #2, Charter Question #1, which concerns structure of government, has engendered little controversy from Los Alamos voters.

At Thursday’s forum on Question #1 at Fuller Lodge, no one spoke against the changes. Instead, Larry Warner and Kyle Wheeler, both members of the original Charter Review Committee (CRC) gave an overview of how they arrived at the changes.

The changes make clearer the roles of the County Council to make policy and the County Administrator to manage day to day County operations, Wheeler said. The Council has elected a Council Chair yearly, but this was not spelled out in the Charter. It is in the proposed change.

“We wanted to strengthen the role of Council Chair as head of government,” Wheeler said.

The other substantive change is to the title of the County Administrator, which would change to County Manager if Question #1 is approved by the voters.

“We wanted to emphasis the managerial duties of the position,” Warner said.

The Question #1 changes also include specifically allowing poll workers to serve on County boards, committees and commissions. These workers are employed for such a short time that they should not be considered County employees in these instances, Wheeler said.

Because there is so little controversy over Question #1, most of the questions from the audience were on matters the CRC chose not to pursue, such as changing from a Council-led form of government to election of a mayor as head of government, changing election of the County Council to a district system, making the Council race non-partisan and making instant run-offs part of the election process.

“As is typical in Los Alamos, we felt the need to analyze everything,” Wheeler said.

A County overview of the Charter changes can be accessed here. The full report of the CRC to the County Council, including arguments both pro and con on the changes discussed, whether or not they were moved forward, can be found at https://www.losalamosnm.us/projects/council/Pages/CRC.aspx.

Los Alamos Hilltalkers assisting in Thursday’s forum from left, Dakota Klusky, a senior; Nate Delgado, a junior; Ben Duan and Sudeep Dasari, both seniors and Darcy Turin, a sophomore. The teens also assisted with a forum featuring Rep. Ben Ray Lujan and Jeff Byrd later in the evening. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Michael Wheeler got a big laugh when he posed a question to the panel for which his wife Kyle joking said to the audience, ‘I assure you this is not a set up.’ Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost

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