Dec. 18 marked the final Los Alamos County Council meeting for 2018 and for Councilors Susan O’Leary, Morris Pongratz and Rick Reiss, as well as Council Vice Chair Christine Chandler.
Terms concluded for O’Leary, Pongratz and Reiss and Chandler will soon be serving the public as New Mexico House Dist. 43 representative.
Council Chair David Izraelevitz presented each outgoing councilor with an engraved plaque. O’Leary did not attend the meeting but each of the other outgoing councilors shared thoughts about their time on council.
“Like my fellow councilors I am feeling a number of emotions right now-gratitude, happiness, satisfaction and sadness,” Pongratz said in a written statement. “I want to express my thanks to my fellow councilors for trusting me and giving a ‘déjà vu’ experience with a seventh term on this body … I am happy that I got to meet and know a number of members of the County staff. I am proud to have worked with them. Harry Burgess, you have done an excellent job as County manager. You have assembled a first-rate senior management team. Together you have made great improvements to life in Los Alamos.”
Pongratz stepped into his seat on Council after former Councilor James Chrobocinski resigned in May. Although he is leaving council, Pongratz urged the County to continue pursuing gross receipts tax from new Los Alamos National Laboratory Prime Contractor Triad National Security. As for himself, Pongratz pledged to continue to be a vocal advocate for local youth.
“I hope to continue working on my legacy – my work with the youth in our community – encouragement, leadership training and recognition for their accomplishments,” he said.
Izraelevitz thanked Councilor Pongratz for his service.
“I think even though it was a short tenure it was very impactful … we appreciated his perspective and history with council and we appreciate both his service on council as well as his broader community service,” Izraelevitz said.
Izraelevitz also thanked Councilor Reiss.
“Councilor Reiss … You and I have served the longest (on the current council),” he said. “I think you joined the council a few months after I was appointed so you and I have gone through many, many council meetings; some short, many long ones together and I really appreciate both your leadership when you were chair and your perspective as a business person and your background in banking and real estate but more generally your love for the community … thank you again for your tenure.”
Reiss commended both County Manager Harry Burgess and County Attorney Alvin Leaphart.
“I really did enjoy being on council … but it’s time to roll off because I believe in term limits and I would be breaking the eight-year rule if I took another one,” Reiss said.
To Chandler, Izraelevitz joked, “So Councilor Chandler, I thought we had a 4-year commitment from you.”
Although Izraelevitz and Chandler only served two years together on council, Izraelevitz said they had known each other a long time and served on various committees including the Charter Review Committee.
“I really valued your opinion,” Izraelevitz said. “I felt you were a voice of reason and perspective and I definitely am going to miss that.”
Izraelevitz also said that he looks forward to seeing Chandler at the Roundhouse and “badgering” her about the County’s legislative agenda.
“We wish you the best at the legislature … and we appreciate your service,” he said.
Chandler said she loves working with people to try to solve problems.
“We all bring different personalities to that … and the nice thing about it is the styles usually work together and come up with a better product in the end,” she said. “That’s what I like about sitting on council … it is all about listening to other people, listening to the public and trying to come up with a solution that most people are generally satisfied with.”
Chandler added that she appreciated working with her fellow councilors as well as the County management and said she will not forget about Los Alamos when she begins her term in the state legislature.
“My heart is here,” Chandler said.