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Filling the vacant county council seat left by the resignation of Jim West has been at the top of the new council’s list of things to do since their first meeting on the subject Jan. 6.
During that meeting, it was decided that interested residents could submit applications, with a list of qualifications to County Administrator Max Baker.
The deadline for submissions was 5 p.m. Tuesday.
In response to the call for applicants, Baker received a total of 11 letters of interest. The letters came from Los Alamos County residents who have varying backgrounds as well as levels of experience in serving the public.
The following individuals submitted letters of interest:
• Manuel J. Baca, a local businessman;
• Becky S. Cordova, an electronics technician in a space science program at Los Alamos National Laboratory;
• Marc E. Clay, who has held several management positions at LANL;
• Ronald M. Dolin, Ph.D., who is also an employee at LANL, in addition to a small business owner;
• Deborah F. Gill, who worked for the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce and has done extensive volunteer work;
• Richard W. Hannemann, now a full-time self-employed musician, also worked at LANL as a young adult;
• Kenneth H. Milder, a team leader on the Information Assurance Team at LANL, recently served on the council;
• Ralph L. Phelps, has 35 years of experience in all phases of the electric power industry and currently serves on the Northern New Mexico Citizen’s Advisory Board as vice chair;
• Terry Priestly, a deputy division leader at LANL;
• Geoff Rodgers, a stay-at-home parent who previously worked as the transportation supervisor for Los Alamos Public Schools, and served on the council and,
• Ronald Selvage, a businessman and group leader in Safety Basis Technical Services for LANL.
Council Chairman Michael Wheeler emphasized that this process is a political process, not a hiring process.
“Some councilors have this idea that this is not political,” he said. “By definition, this is a political process. If some people don’t like that word, I understand, but we can’t change the process. We’re not out there hiring an employee. It’s not a personnel kind of process.”
He said that kind of process would be subject to all the rules and laws regarding hiring and choosing people to work in the organization.
“I just want to alert people that this is not a hiring process. This is a political process. Will it be partisan? Probably not. I think that’s what councilors are trying to get across. This is not a partisan kind of issue,” he continued.
Wheeler said that the current councilors will have copies of the letters forwarded to them so that they can review each of them individually, before the next council meeting. At the meeting, councilors will then take a vote on the top three candidates.
“My intention initially is to have a first round of voting where councilors can select up to three candidates of their choice. We’ll have an open vote and the top three out of the first round of voting will then be invited to speak at the podium for a short speech or presentation. After that, the idea would be for the council to vote publicly on which three they prefer. We may need more than one round of voting,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler said that another possible outcome is that the councilors may use the meeting on Tuesday as an opportunity to work on choosing their top candidates, but may defer a final decision until the following meeting on Feb. 3.
“I think we have a good slate of candidates,” he said, “I hope to bring this to closure on the 27th.”