What makes for good government? Is it being responsive to local needs and expectations? Is it being fiscally responsible and a good steward of tax dollars? Or strategic planning that moves a community forward? Yes, all these things, but as the campaign season ends and my continued service is in the hands of you, the voters of Los Alamos, I want to talk about the most important component of government, and one that I have been most proud to serve with. We have some of the best people working for the County.
As the only incumbent running for re-election, a question I am asked that others are not is to reflect on accomplishments during seven years on Council. Once, instead of my usual pride in the new Teen Center or Ashley Pond, or even helping to bring the new Smith’s to town, I blurted out that the team that we have put together, the people who work for the County, was what I was most proud of. Projects have been completed on time and under budget because of our project management and finance people. Our parks and buildings look well-tended and attractive because of our public works and custodial staff.
The list goes on and on, but this is not the list that typically makes the newspaper headlines or political punchlines, and that is too bad. There are bad-apples, miscommunication, and lessons-learned in any organization, but we get copies of thank you notes every month in our councilor monthly updates. For example, I recently read compliments about the County Fair and Rodeo, assistance at the cemetery, the temporary children’s library at Fuller Lodge, and upkeep of the Overlook Park Soccer Fields. This was just one month.
Negative campaigning unfortunately works; it is easier to run against something than it is to run for something. In contrast to the bad rap that county employees sometimes get, I want to share some real numbers and show that County staff does more with less. In Fiscal Year 2006, before the LANL contract switch, there were about 506 county employees outside of utilities. In the just completed Fiscal Year 2017, there were 570 employees. More government? Indeed, but since 2006, we have 15 more Fire staff, 13 more Police staff, a 3-person Social Services Division dedicated to those most vulnerable among us, and 36 more in Transit Services (non-existent in 2006). Subtract those additional services and we net three fewer employees than in 2006, yet they are doing more, taking care of more buildings, more parks, more citizen services than they did a decade ago.
There are many uncertainties ahead, but I am optimistic that we will find the path to the resources needed to support the quality of life, schools, safe streets, and services that exceed those of any other community our size. If re-elected, I will work hard to keep it this way. But, however we manage, these services will rest fundamentally on the shoulders of those who run our county services every day. With your support, I hope to continue to proudly work among them.