Ryti: Focus On Values To Build Community

Randall Ryti during a recent interview at the Los Alamos Daily Post to discuss his candidacy for Los Alamos County Council. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Candidate for County Council
As I walk the neighborhoods to meet residents, one thing I particularly appreciate is people talking about what they like and value about living in Los Alamos. Among the values, quality of life has been mentioned multiple times. Other times people have focused on one or two issues of concern to them. Code enforcement, County spending practices, and reductions to County revenues have been raised as concerns.
I think we might obtain a broader consensus on solutions to our issues if we can first build a broad understanding of our values. Council does regularly develop and update community goals through the strategic plan. However, goals are a method to achieve things we value and it would be helpful to first understand our values.
Once we understand our values then we can brainstorm solutions to the problems we face. We can determine which solutions might be more effective at addressing these problems. We can look at the cost. We can also evaluate how certain we are that a solution might be effective. This approach will help build consensus around decisions we make. We can also use information on past successes and failures to update our solutions accordingly.
An example will help illustrate this approach. Let’s consider a decision that Council recently made approving the water pipe line to the ski hill. This project is currently under environmental review by the Forest Service. My approach, had I been on the Council, would have been to consider values that the decision supports. Based on comments about this proposal, we can infer at least a couple of values imbedded in this decision. One value has to do with maintaining or expanding outdoor recreational activities. Having access to nonpotable water in the winter to make snow should increase skier-days at Pajarito Mountain. Having access to potable water in the summer might lead to more recreational use such as mountain biking and hiking. I think we also value increased economic diversification and these recreational opportunities might increase tourism and associated revenues.
As is clear in this example, some consequences are not certain. Understanding the best case, worst case, and most likely case for easily measured things like skier-days are important for making evidence-based decisions. Some things are more uncertain than others, but being uncertain is no
reason to justify inaction. Ignoring uncertainty is not prudent either.
Another value is public safety. An important consideration for the water pipeline decision is reducing our vulnerability to wildfires. For this aspect of the decision it will be helpful to understand what other options are available to make our County safer from wildfires. Some of these are in direct contrast to the pipeline project, such as maintaining the Los Alamos reservoir. Others might be less directly related but are also competing for County funding.
Such options might be developing or maintaining emergency exit routes for vulnerable parts of our community.
Decisions facing the County are often complex and interrelated. Understanding our values and brainstorming solutions is a good start. If you agree with this approach, please consider supporting me in the June primary. Early voting starts May 8. You can get more information through my website www.Ryti4Council.com – or send an email with your thoughts to Ryti4Council@gmail.com.