County Attorney Search Narrows to Three Applicants

By Carol A. Clark

Three candidates have made the short list out of a pool of 16 applicants for the Los Alamos County Attorney position.

Rebecca Whismer Ehler of Alamogordo, Harry Sinclair Connelly of Las Cruces and internal candidate Charles Brian James are scheduled for interviews April 13 in Los Alamos.

James graduated from the Golden Gate University School of Law and has 32 years of legal experience. He has served as acting county attorney for about a year.

“It seems like a logical progression and would also provide continuity for the County what with a new county administrator and the many projects underway,” James said of the reasons behind his interest in the job. “It’s a complicated job and a challenge I enjoy … it’s a lot more work but the pay is better, too.”

The salary range is $98,462 to $157,540 annually.

Ehleris a graduate of the University of Missouri Law School and has 29 years of legal experience. She is the Department of Public Safety legal advisor for the City of Alamogordo and has served as city attorney in Alamogordo as well as county attorney for Chaves County.

“I have experience of both county and city attorney positions,” Ehler said. “I think the community is intriguing … all the experience and knowledge there makes it an exciting place to work ….”

Connelly is the City Attorney in Las Cruces. He is a graduate of Washburn University School of Law and also holds a master’s degree in law from Georgetown University Law Center. He has 49 years of legal experience.

“What interests me is the uniqueness of the community and the challenge to represent the sole incorporated county in New Mexico that has its county seat as the community of Los Alamos,” Connelly said.

Of the 16 applicants who applied, nine met the minimum qualifications, according to the County’s Human Resources Department, and James, Ehler and Connelly advanced from those nine applicants into the final phase of the hiring process, which includes facing next week’s interview panel.

The County Council appoints the county attorney for an indefinite term and sets his or her compensation. According to the Los Alamos County Charter, the county attorney serves at the discretion of the County Council in the capacity of legal advisor to the Council, the County Administrator and County departments, boards and commissions and represents the County in all legal proceedings.

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