Burke eyes council post for next election

-A A +A
By Tris DeRoma

Los Alamos resident Brady Burke has thrown his hat in the ring for a seat on Los Alamos County Council next year, sensing people are looking for more responsive government.
“I get the idea that the government has sort of lost touch with the voters. There’s that disconnect, that people feel they don’t have a voice,” Burke said.
Burke admits in the past he was not politically active, but that all changed in May when county residents voted against the county raising $20 million through a sale of general obligation bonds by a slim margin.
The money was to go toward funding five projects which included a recreation center in Los Alamos and a splash pad in White Rock’s Piñon Park. The bond came with a property tax increase.
Though the voters rejected the bond sale, it was enough for Burke to get involved.
Burke said didn’t like that shortly after the sale, county voted to go ahead and build some of the projects anyway using the additional $13 million the county has in its capital improvement fund.
“One of the things that got me agitated was when the voters said no to it, it came back up again at the county council,” Burke said. “They said ‘we’re going to do it anyway…. We didn’t really need all that property tax money.’ It was confusing…why the property tax increase? Was it for this, or for extra spending money?”
Burke said he’d welcome projects that would help the community, but they have to be self sustaining.
“It wasn’t the items in the recreation bond, it was that every time something came up for public input there was a property tax increase tied to it,” he said. “I don’t need to see my property taxes go up for things that should be able to support themselves.”
Burke thinks the council needs to direct the county to shore up the resources and infrastructure it has already, rather than spend money on new projects.
“We can’t go out and buy the new car when the water heater is going to fail,” Burke said.
Burke intends to tackle economic development issues too. He said the county has granted too much leeway to certain businesses in town, a strategy he said resulted in less variety and convenience for residents.
Burke said a lot can be accomplished by encouraging more community engagement. He wants to do that by having more town hall style meetings.
“The county voters can’t think that every time we ask them a question, or ask them to be involved in something that we’ve already made up our mind on what we’re going to do,” Burke said. “When we throw $500,000 at a project that hasn’t been vetted in front of the community you’re going to get backlash. What we need to do is have more town hall meetings.”
He also seeks to get the county off the backs of residents who feel they’re being micromanaged by county ordinances and points to the county’s current nuisance ordinance as an example.
The ordinance is meant to make sure residents and business owners maintain their property.
Burke and others feel the county is being excessive with enforcement when it comes to residential property. He and others want the county to concentrate on the big violators.
“I don’t think the problem is having a nuisance ordinance. I think the problem is enforcement of law by the letter versus its intent,” he said. “Yes, you can enforce it by the words and go after everybody, or you can start with the egregious violations.”
Burke has been a long time Los Alamos County resident. He worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1986 to 1992.
He came back to Los Alamos County again in 1999, where he started several small businesses, including a medical billing business. Burke officially announced his intent to run for council at the Los Alamos Republican Party’s Constitution Day Dinner Sept. 30.
Candidate declaration day is March 13. Primaries will be held June 5 and the general election will be Nov. 6. Four county council seats are available in 2018.
According to the county clerk’s office, all candidates run at-large, they are not bound to a particular district.