Havemann: Listening & Learning

By SUZIE HAVEMANN
Democratic Candidate
Los Alamos County Council

When out doing the campaign thing called “canvassing” a couple evenings ago, I was encouraged by several conversations I had with people at their front doors.

In one instance, a very friendly mom and her daughter answered the doorbell. They were clearly in the middle of dinner so I felt bad interrupting their family time. As soon as she saw my candidate name badge, she kindly informed me they had already voted and I was not one of their selections. I expressed my gratitude to her for voting and moved on down the street.

When I made my way back up the opposite side of the street, this same woman came outside to express why she had voted for other candidates and to say there were no hard feelings and she wished me well; she just wanted to remain loyal and supportive to the candidates she already knew.

This led to a conversation about how she knew them through her participation on a couple County Boards. I learned she was stepping up to volunteer because she was frustrated with some decisions being made and she wanted to be part of the process and solutions going forward. From her, I learned about an issue that had not hit my radar in conversations with others; that’s been the highlight of canvassing door-to-door: listening and learning.

The topics on our residents’ minds are big and small, diverse and similar, old and new.  In random order, they range from lack of a night life, condition of trails, the weeds part of the nuisance code (and in contrast, the lack of enforcement of parts of the Nuisance Code), the perception the County makes decisions without sufficient community input, the old Smith’s, shortened hours of the aquatic center, the condition of tennis courts, lack of shopping and restaurants, lack of day care options, traffic on N.M. 4, poorly timed road work that takes too long to complete and is not well explained, and a lack of housing options.

There are plenty of accolades, too: our parks, utility and refuse services, trails, recreation options, bus service, snow removal, libraries, and community events like the summer concerts and Halloween festivities. These are both just anecdotal samplings, but the point is we all have different things we care about, that annoy us, and/or that we love about Los Alamos.

When asked why I am seeking a position on County Council, my primary reason is I believe in civic engagement. The fact you are reading this op-ed shows you are engaging and care about what your candidates have to say. I came home from canvassing a couple nights ago so elated about my conversation with the woman who was stepping up – she was paying attention to the issues, volunteering her time for the betterment of our community, and had already voted. “I love it!”, I told her.

LOS ALAMOS

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