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Newly Appointed Los Alamos County Councilor Katrina Schmidt Seeks To Serve Retirees And Young Families

on January 31, 2019 - 9:27am
Municipal Judge Elizabeth Allen, left, swears in Katrina Schmidt as the newest County Councilor while Schmidt's partner, Neal Martin, holds the Bible. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/
Los Alamos Daily Post

Good ideas and diversity characterized the crop of applicants who applied for the open seat on Los Alamos County Council.

Several councilors commented it was a difficult choice but in a 4-2 vote, they appointed Barranca Elementary School teacher Katrina Schmidt to fill the vacancy.

The decision was made during the regular council meeting Tuesday night. Council Chair Sara Scott and Councilors David Izraelevitz, Antonio Maggiore and Randall Ryti cast their vote for Schmidt while Council Vice Chair Pete Sheehey and Councilor James Robinson voted for John Bliss.

“I feel absolutely ecstatic,” Schmidt told the Los Alamos Daily Post after the meeting. “I really look forward to serving Los Alamos County.”

Schmidt fills the seat left vacant by Christine Chandler elected in November to serve as Dist. 43 State Representative.

During opening comments, Schmidt said there were currently no educators on the County Council and she would like to provide that representation. She added a focus for her was the major generational change at Los Alamos National Laboratory and in the County.

Schmidt said many people are retiring and many young families are arriving to work at the laboratory.  As a result, she said she felt that the council should address what can be done to support the retirees and as well as the young families.

“I feel that is the direction we need to be looking (at),” Schmidt said.

According to her letter of interest, Schmidt worked as the Coordinator for International Relations in Niigata, Japan. She wrote she was part of the team responsible for strategic communications and international exchanges for the International Affairs Division of the Niigata Prefectural Government.

After returning to the U.S., Schmidt pursued a career in education. She now works as a fourth-grade teacher and serves as a team leader at Barranca Elementary School.

In her letter, Schmidt wrote, “I believe that an effective government is one that listens to its people and takes action. As a member of County Council, I will remember the history of Los Alamos while looking toward our future. I will ensure that we continue to take care of our elders while exploring what more we can do to support our youth. We also need to address the challenges our community faces. With generational turnover at the lab, we are experiencing a housing shortage that must be remedied in order to accommodate the population growth. Numerous empty buildings dot our town; we need to bring in more businesses, including restaurants and nature-based tourist activities. To safeguard our financial future, we must work closely with state and federal officials from both parties to make the status of the GRT revenue permanent.”

Schmidt was not the only applicant to touch on these issues. In total, 10 citizens applied for the seat and many addressed the need for increasing affordable housing, enhancing the County’s open spaces, supporting and growing local businesses and getting empty commercial properties occupied.

Other applicants included Jose Carreño, Aaron Walker, Brady Burke, John Bliss, Gary Stradling, Brad Nyenhuis, Amanda Robertson, Eric Stromberg and Greg White.

Councilors commended the applicants and encouraged them to continue to be involved in County government.

Sheehey said, “I heard good ideas from every one of you … keep working on these things … We welcome this input. You are a really nice, diverse representation of the community. Picking one of you is going to be hard. We appreciate the contributions you are all making.”

Robinson agreed, saying, “This is probably most diverse group of people I’ve seen in my life … it’s a great sampling (of Los Alamos County). This is truly going to be a hard decision.”