LANL employees and others listen to Senatorial candidate Heather Wilson during her Town Hall meeting late Wednesday afternoon at the Hilltop House Hotel. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
By Carol A. Clark
A large crowd turned out to hear Republican U.S. Senatorial candidate Heather Wilson speak at a Town Hall Meeting at the Best Western Hilltop House Hotel late Wednesday afternoon.
Wilson spoke of her background and experience before fielding questions from the audience of slightly more than 100 people.
At age 17, she entered the U.S. Air Force Academy and graduated in 1982. A Rhodes Scholar, Wilson earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in international relations from Oxford University.
She worked with NATO allies as an Air Force officer and in 1989, became director of European Defense Policy and Arms Control on the National Security Council at the White House under President George WH Bush.
Wilson served in the U.S. Congress from 1989 until 2009.
She served as a senior member of the House energy and Commerce Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Heather Wilson and Bill Redmond. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
During Wednesday’s Town Hall, Wilson criticized the NNSA saying that three months ago funding was pulled for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility project (CMRR) – when just three months earlier the project was deemed essential.
“NNSA wants Los Alamos to be its wholly-owned, wholly-controlled sandbox,” Wilson said.
She spoke of the “bureaucratic nonsense” the Lab has to go through to achieve excellence because NNSA requires supervisors to stand over employees with a clipboard and check boxes off a list.
“There are better models, multiple models out there that promote excellence and they’re cheaper and the money saved could go to fund science projects,” Wilson said.
She spoke of the job cuts at LANL.
“I’m quite familiar with the enterprise that stewards our nuclear deterrent,” she said. “What you do cannot be done anywhere else.”
Former U.S. Rep. Bill Redmond reads questions from the audience addressed to Heather Wilson. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Former U.S. Rep. Bill Redmond handed Wilson cards containing questions from the audience.
“Nuclear scientists are retiring in droves and ‘20 somethings’ are not entering the nuclear field … what’s going to happen?” asked an audience member.
“What attracts people here is the work and one of the reasons for the CMRR is to attract the next generation of nuclear scientists,” Wilson said.
Heather Wilson. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Just 3.5 percent of the nation’s wealth is spent on national security – 4.7 percent if “you throw in everything,” she said.
“That is a historic low since the end of WWII,” Wilson said. “We don’t ask much of a sacrifice on this country to secure it … and we do a pretty good job of it … we are Americans – we have found this path before and we can find it again with the right leadership.”
Wilson hopes to succeed retiring Sen. Jeff Bingaman, a Democrat from Silver City.
She is essentially running unopposed for the GOP primary after Lt. Gov. John Sanchez dropped out. Sanchez today endorsed Wilson’s candidacy.
“I’ve known Heather Wilson for almost 20 years,” Sanchez said in a news release. “Washington is taking our country in the wrong direction and we need strong leaders to change the direction of our country – Heather Wilson is that candidate.”
Chairman Javier Gonzales of the Democratic Party of New Mexico stated in a news release prior to Wilson’s Wednesday Town Hall, “The fact is, it was Democrats whofought spending cuts because drastic spending cuts can decimate communities like Los Alamos, Espanola, Taos and Chama … The idea that you can cut taxes on the richest 1 percent of this country and hand out billions of dollars a year in corporate subsidies and tax breaks for Wall Street and at the same time never have to make any cuts is the fundamental fallacy of the Republican Party.”
Bill Redmond and Heather Wilson point to audience members with questions. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Republican Las Cruces businessman Greg Soward remains in the race despite the latest polls showing him trailing more than 70 percent behind Wilson.
Soward has said that he will remain in the race even if he fails to garner 20 percent of the delegate support at the GOP state primary convention in Albuquerque on Saturday. He vows to get enough signatures on a petition to ensure an official spot on the June 5 primary ballot.
Wilson will face one of two Democrats in the November General Election, either U.S. Rep Martin Heinrich or State Treasurer Hector Balderas.
Audience member Carla Brewer shares a moment with Heather Wilson. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Local home school student Sarah Hutchens, 10, with her parents Greg and Martha Hutchens, speaks with U.S. Senatorial candidate Heather Wilson following Wednesday’s Town Hall meeting. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Physicist Liviu Popa-Simil shares project inforrmation with Heather Wilson following her Town Hall meeting. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Audience member Amy Storey discusses national radio host Rush Limbaugh’s recent disrespectful remarks against women, asking her to get him banned from the air waves. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Former State Land Commissioner Pat Lyons, wearing a vest, attends Heather Wilson’s Town Hall. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Heather Wilson’s Los Alamos Campaign Coordinator JoAnn Johnson, left, and Hilltop House Hotel owner Ron Selvage with Wilson. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com