Henderson sees tough choices ahead

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By Arin McKenna

Second of a series

Municipal Judge Alan Kirk swore in new Councilors Steve Girrens, Kristin Henderson  and Pete Sheehey, along with new County Clerk Sharon Stover last week.

The priorities each of the new councilors has established as they prepare to take up the reins may cause some alliances to shift and also shed some light on how they will govern the next four years.

Kristin Henderson

“I think we need with every decision to try to evolve the town and to try to take into account the families who want to see the town evolve a little bit, to see some progress,” Henderson said.

“I think we’re going to have to make some tough choices coming up, not having they level of funds that we thought we were going to have. And that’s okay. I think we need to prioritize. And that can be a good thing.

“But my goal will always be to keep the families in mind when we make these decisions. Let’s not have that be the overlooked contingent.”

Henderson plans to measure the CIP projects under review with that yardstick.

“I think the teen center affects families a lot, and even if they may not think they’re the kids who will be going to the teen center. I think when you have help for the community it helps everybody.

“I do not think that all the money for the golf course is going to help that many families in town. There are some families that take advantage of it, but not many.”

Henderson doesn’t see any merit in the argument that golf course improvements will bring economic development to Los Alamos by attracting people to play the course.

“I think I’m not concerned about attracting people up here. I’m concerned about meeting the needs of the people who are here. That’s our first consideration. I think when we’re still losing families at the rate we’re losing them … that’s one of the things I’ll be looking at as not necessarily at the top of the list.

“I think we’re going to have to make a lot of hard decisions that not everybody’s going to like it, but that’s the reality when you have big budget cuts. And my goal is to try to take families into account when we’re making these decisions and that’s what I’m intending to do.

“I don’t want to come out like I’m against the golf course. I think in the long run that would be a positive thing. It’s just easy to say there are some things that help families more than others.”

Henderson is also looking ahead to the legislative sessions.

“I think one of the big things that council needs to worry about is making sure that the voice of Los Alamos is heard at the state level and the federal level, in particular for the environmental cleanup that we need to have up here,” Henderson said. “We need to make sure our representatives in Congress know that. We still are fairly short on funds compared to other DOE communities for getting cleanup done and that’s an important thing.

“I think we have a stronger voice when we can work with the other communities around us and go to congress with things like the cleanup. There are a lot of things on the national level that affect the Northern New Mexico communities, and I think we’re smart to work with the other communities to get our voices heard.”

Henderson said she would be interested in representing council on one of the coalitions advocating for Northern New Mexico.

The first regular session of the new Los Alamos County Council will be 7 p.m. Jan. 8 in council chambers.