The County Council needs to represent all the residents of Los Alamos County – including those who are unable to show up in force at Council Meetings or deluge Council with emails. Families, in particular, have needs that are largely overlooked, from my perspective, in our current form of government -- because in part they are the least likely to show up and get their voices heard. Yet they are the contingency that most need attention from the Council to have their issues addressed for the long-term viability of the town and for the success of the Lab.
Since we currently need to work within the system that we have -- namely, no mayor, so no mandate for direction -- and no districts, so no particular neighborhood or area is championed by any one Councilor, we need to be sure that, in fact, the Council takes all groups into account.
I will admit to receiving some grief from close friends and family about the name of this plank, but I stand by it. It is important to have a vision for the town, to believe it can be a vibrant and sustaining place for the wide group of people who call it home. There is no need for change for its own sake. We are a thoughtful community, and, certainly, decisions need to be well thought out. But now is the time for us to decide what kind of a town we are going to be, and accept and take the steps it will require to get there. That's reasonable progress.
A Great Town for Great Families
We do have a lot in this town -- a beautiful setting, good schools, great teachers, involved parents. It's a relatively safe place to live, with no smog and relatively little traffic to speak of. But there is a lot that needs burnishing, that needs sprucing up and acknowledging and utilizing well. Our schools are under siege financially. To continue to be excellent, they are going to need support from the overall community, and many of our amenities are a little . . . threadbare.
We need a vibrant and interesting town that is as world-class as the people who live here; places for all generations to spend time and enjoy and appreciate. Given the fact we are landlocked and have a population that is too small to attract much outside investment, we need to work together to make as vibrant a community as we can.
Promote the Lab's Focus on Recruitment and Retention
To say that the future of the Lab is the future of the town is, I think, not putting it strongly enough. Yes, it would be nice to branch out and have all kinds of other businesses in town -- and it certainly seems like the Lab would be an amazing incubator for startups and other businesses to locate here. So, why isn't it? Why don't they? I think the answer to that is the same as the answer to why our 25-45 year-old population is on the decline, and why the Lab's ability to recruit and retain new people is a real issue. The bottom line is that there is a lack of amenities for those in that range of their careers. It is a quality of life issue.
Yes, we have clean air and little traffic. But for young families -- and everyone -- we need a vibrant town and amenities. We need new amenities but we also need to optimize the ones we have. For example, we have an excellent school system but it is financially under siege that needs support. And how about adding a leisure pool, or a lovely summer pool? The ski hill and hiking trails are great assets to our community, but they need to be enhanced and promoted.
When young families have lots of other choices of where to locate they look hard at those things. This is especially true for any Lab spin-off employees. They really can go a number of other places, and are not limited to the other scientific institutes. There are also real property issues -- in particular, whether there is reasonable commercial space for spin-off enterprises.
When we create a town where the best possible place to get a science job, based on the community alone, is Los Alamos -- which is the best scenario for the future of the Lab and the work that is done there -- it will also be ideal for the other entities as well, and many of those commercial space issues will be much easier to solve.