On the Mesa Facing North: A Big Night for Local Democrats


Column by Greg Kendall
Los Alamos Democrats celebrated election results that were very much to their liking. A group of them were seen cheering the national, state and local wins at the new Pajarito Brewpub & Grill late Tuesday night.
With Obama taking the Presidency,  Martin Heinrich taking the former senate seat of Sen. Jeff Bingaman and Ben Ray Lujan returning to the House of Representatives, the national scene gave local Democrats something big to cheer about, and they did.
In Los Alamos, Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney, Heinrich (D) lost to Rep. Heather Wilson (R), but the votes outside Los Alamos handily put Heinrich over the top. Lujan (D) had no trouble beating Jefferson Byrd in Los Alamso and beyond.
A key race in Los Alamos was for District 43 state representive. Jim Hall (R) handily beat Stephanie Garcia Richard (D) in Los Alamos, but beyond Los Alamos it was a different story. Richard looks to have defeated Hall in a nail-biter. Richard’s win will surely put a big crimp in Gov. Martinez (R) plans to dominate the New Mexico House of Representatives.
In judicial races, Los Alamos favored the Republican candidates Paul Kennedy (R) and J. Miles Hanisee (R), but with the votes outside the county included, Democrats Monica Zamora (D) and Barbara Vigil (D) were victorious.  This again foiled Gov. Martinez plans for these judical seats.
In the council race, Democrats took two of the three seat that were up for grabs. Kristin Henderson (D) led the pack followed by Steven Girrens (R) (husband to Council Chair Sharon Stover) then Pete Sheehey (D).
Henderson’s message of county progress and representation for families resonated well among Los Alamos voters, so much so that other candidates began to mimic her positions along the way. 
Sheehey pounded the pavement and seemed to work harder than any other candidate, shaking hands with the majority of our citizens. His hard work paid off in a big way last night. 
Even Michael Redondo who replaced Ken Johnson on the Democratic ticket for council, got a late start and spent zero dollars on his campaign, did relatively well last night, especially given his come-from behind start. Many folks that I talked with last night believe that Redondo has a bright future in local politics, if he chooses to take a stab at it in the future and gets one or two county boards or commissions under his belt.
All the charter amendments were approved. Democrats are generally in favor of a robust and smooth functioning government based on representative democracy and want to make sure it’s not too easy to throw monkey wrenches into the political processes, at least this Democrat feels that way. Democrats that I talked with last night were happy that charter amendments had passed … so were the Republicans I talk with, for that matter.
I personally am hoping all the belly-aching about the “palatial” municipal building, the “fancy” justice center and the “vast” pajarito cliffs site will taper off, especially given the fact that opposition to the amendments targeted these projects as evidence that petition and referendums should remain easier to accomplish. Los Alamos was lucky enough to have the money to build these projects out-of-pocket without issuing bond debt, they are built, yes they are a little “over-built,” but that is water under the bridge now.
We need to focus on what lies ahead and stop fighting the lost battles. The majority in the county has spoken, let’s please move on!
The council candidates who won seats last night have all shown that they are willing to do the hard work that is necessary to be a councilor. Henderson has spent many years and many long nights away from her young family as part of the Trinity Site Committee. Sheehey has been a valuable member of the Planning and Zoning Commission and has been the president of the Los Alamos Committee on Arms Control and International Security. Girrens has been a past president, vice-president and secretary of the Los Alamos Public Schools Board of Education and has served on the Planning and Zoning Commission.
My hat is off to all the candidates, Republican, Democrat and otherwise, who are willing to take all the slings, arrows and sheer partisan nastiness that comes with being a candidate for public office. Because we have people who are willing to put up with our many times brutal political process, we are able to live in the greatest country the world has ever seen. 
Now candidates, get to work! There is a lot to be done to keep this county and country great.

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