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Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series on the Democratic candidates for Los Alamos County Council who will face each other in the June 3 primary election.
“Family” sums up Susan O’Leary’s principal reason for running for the Los Alamos County Council.
“I’m running because I think Los Alamos is a great family community. My children are in elementary school and I’d like to see them go through high school here and someday come and raise their family here,” O’Leary said. “I have a real commitment to seeing Los Alamos be the best family community it can be. In serving the Los Alamos community I would also be serving my family.”
O’Leary moved to Los Alamos from Surf City, N.C., three years ago when her husband, Tim, accepted a job here. Their children, Declan and Angie, are in fifth grade and second grade.
Community involvement for O’Leary includes serving as chair for the Charter Review Committee on Article 5, which governs the Department of Public Utilities. O’Leary also founded and writes articles for Save Our Schools Los Alamos, an informal group focused on raising awareness about K-12 funding issues. She served as president of the Surf City’s Parent Teacher Association for two years.
One of O’Leary’s priorities, if elected, would be to help Los Alamos Public Schools find solutions to those funding problems.
“I believe that the health of our entire community depends on a quality K-12 school system,” O’Leary said.
O’Leary sees her 10 years as president of advertising at the Washington Post as one of her strongest assets. She achieved her revenue goals nine out of 10 years, with the terrorist attacks of 9/11 causing the only setback.
“I ran a department that had 500 employees, over 30,000 customers and $750 million in revenue,” O’Leary said. “And I loved my job.
“And I loved thinking about how to set appropriate goals for my department and then, also, how to achieve them in as efficient a way as possible.”
O’Leary sees customer service as the key to her success, and skill set that could serve Los Alamos. “That kind of orientation is something I would bring to my position as a councilor, and that means that I would be very focused on what the citizens of this community think is important and do my very best to serve them.”
O’Leary’s key priority, if elected, would be to “make sure that the county is run as efficiently as possible and that every tax dollar goes as far as it can.”
“Along with that would be to make sure that day-to-day decision making is in line with the strategic plan that the community has created. I think there’s an opportunity to add a little more rigor in the planning process by identifying certain deliverables and timeframes for the deliverables, so that if there are things that are not happening when they’re supposed to, there can be a community discussion about why that’s the case.”
Assuring that the county is a good partner to Los Alamos National Laboratory is also on O’Leary’s list.
“The lab is our golden goose and I believe the county can help the lab is by making Los Alamos just a really great community that will be a draw for potential lab recruits and retain the very best scientists and engineers and managers and support people,” she said.
O’Leary wants to make sure that economic development efforts aimed at tourism also benefits county residents.
“Upgrading our trailhead signs and involvement with the ski hill, introducing summer activities on Pajarito Mountain — those are all great ways to encourage people to visit our community and spend their money here, and ways to also increase the quality of life for our residents,” she said.
O’Leary does not believe she would be running for office in any other community. She has lived in New York, Washington D.C., Sarasota, Fla. and Surf City, N.C.
“What I’ve learned by moving around is that the most important thing in finding a community that you can call home is the people…it’s really the common values that we share that makes me feel like I’m at home. Los Alamos has such a wonderful population; people involved who care a lot about the community. That inspires me to want to serve the community in this way.”
For more information, go to oleary4lac.com.