Candidates cite LANL's significance at forum

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By Carol A. Clark

The hot topic at Wednesday evening’s candidates’ forum sponsored by the Democratic Party of Los Alamos County, was the current and future importance of Los Alamos National Laboratory.County Democratic Party Chair Stephen Fettig called this year's congressional race one of the most important in a long time.The public packed Fuller Lodge for the two-and-a-half hour event.DPLA board member Cathy Chapman drew names determining order of appearance, starting with congressional candidate Harry Montoya.Congressional candidates:Harry MontoyaMontoya’s wife, Doris, stood in for him. Richard Cooper read statements from those candidates unable to attend the forum. Montoya, in his prepared statement said he was in Washington, D.C., doing county and New Mexico family business.The Santa Fe County Commissioner vows to ensure Los Alamos National Laboratory “will always have a mission that keeps families working.” Montoya intends to follow in Rep. Tom Udall's footsteps, he said. Udall is running for U.S. Senate. Montoya holds a master’s degree from New Mexico State University. He advocates ending the Iraq War. “We should begin to withdraw troops over the next few months and have most of them out by the end of the year,” he said. Montoya also expressed support of health care for all, stem cell research, solving the home foreclosure crisis and slowing the flow of jobs overseas.Rudy Martin“I am the only candidate who in my campaign literature openly supports the Laboratory,” Martin said. “It is the lifeline of northern New Mexico and I support it.”Calling the upcoming election, “the most important election we've faced in years,” Martin said it's critical to elect the “best qualified, most experienced” person to represent America in congress. “America has lost much of its glimmer,” Martin said. Martin told the audience he holds three degrees including law, Spanish and business. As an advocate of civil rights for the poor and underprivileged, Martin said he has litigated against the FBI, the Immigration and Naturalization Service and other powerful agencies in New Mexico and across the nation. He wants to, “repair the damage President Bush has done to civil rights.”

Ben Ray Lujan“The economic impact Los Alamos has and Los Alamos National Laboratory has, is why we are here tonight and why we must save jobs at Los Alamos,” Lujan said. His father, House Speaker Ben Lujan, was a union iron worker on the Hill, he said. Lujan grew up in a family that stands up for organized labor, he said, “...stands up for sovereign rights, for land, for water, for women, for everybody.”Lujan wants to end the war, bring the troops home and “take care of them with dignity.”Lujan, chair of the Public Regulation Commission, advocates closing loopholes that allow insurance companies to deny claims. “People need to be treated like people and not second class citizens,” he said.Lujan also supports firefighters. “No community knows better the importance of firefighters than Los Alamos,” he said.Don WiviottWiviott’s wife stood in for him. Cooper read his prepared statement in which Wiviott said, “Los Alamos National Laboratory is the economic engine in northern New Mexico and I will fight any attempt to reduce funding.”Wiviott, a Santa Fe developer, spoke of challenges facing the country including the war in Iraq, which he would like to see end.Wiviott began his campaign in 2007 and said it's not based on personal calculation but rather on the fact that Washington needs change.He said he won't take a dime from lobbyists or PACs.Jon Adams“It’s always good to come home,” said Adams who grew up here. “I will never have a scheduling conflict or anything else that prevents me from speaking to the people of Los Alamos and I will never vote against the Lab,” Adams said. “I believe we should fully fund the Lab. We all know the importance of the Lab, it seems like a no-brainer.”Adams, who advocates public financing of campaigns, questioned the money Wiviott is putting into his own campaign, saying he just put in another $265,000 for a total of $590,000 to date. Adams, a Santa Fe lawyer and former assistant attorney general, also mentioned a list of criticisms he says Wiviott has lodged against him. “He called me a silver spooned ivy league kid,” Adams said. “...I'm a product of New Mexico public schools,” Adams said. Fringe candidate, joke attack candidate, and too young are other names he has been called by Wiviott. “There is nothing funny about the war, our young men and women are getting killed,” he said. “There’s nothing funny about Post Traumatic Distress Syndrome...nothing funny about the president taking away our civil rights.” Adams, 33, said Mozart was 35 and Thomas Jefferson 32 when he, “declared we are all created equal.” The only difference between Wiviott and himself, Adams said, is he is pro-choice and that Wiviott has never specifically said he is pro-choice.Benny Shendo Jr.Shendo spoke of the talent and future of LANL, saying it must move with a sense of urgency into research and development in areas of sustainable energy such as solar and wind. “A political race by its very nature is about competition...and the people of New Mexico deserve a voice in Washington, D.C., whether they were born here or came on vacation and stayed,” Shendo said.The Iraq War is costing the United States some $720 million a day, Shendo said, the middle class is in serious trouble, schools are crumbling, health care is a big issue and water and air are becoming increasingly dangerous.Shendo was born and raised on the Jemez Pueblo where his father and grandfather were leaders people came to for guidance. As their son, he said he has spent his whole life bringing people together. As former cabinet secretary of Indian Affairs, he said he is the only candidate with state of New Mexico cabinet-level experience in education, health care, infrastructure building, natural resources allocation, environmental preservation and economic development.

State Senator:Carlos CisnerosCisneros, a longtime Los Alamos state senator, is running unopposed in the primary. An audience member asked Cisneros about the proposed school funding formula bill sponsored by Rep. Mimi Stewart that would have cost Los Alamos Public Schools nearly $2 million in state funding. The bill died in the recent 30-day legislative session. Cisneros told the audience member he would initiate an amendment to hold Los Alamos harmless if the bill surfaces again.“Over the course of the last eight years, I've passed 36 pieces of legislation including tax relief measures, energy measures and the technology research collaborative,” Cisneros said. He works closely with Rep. Jeannette Wallace, R-Los Alamos, saying she knows the local issues and responds when he goes to her for advice.County Council:Ken MilderMilder is the only incumbent to announce his intention to run for re-election. Citing issues he’d like to continue, Milder said his number one goal is to maintain the current infrastructure in the county in terms of road, buildings and utilities.Though not a resident of White Rock, Milder said he supports the White Rock economic development study taking place now and supports investing the estimated $20 million to implement the economic development plan. “We are currently investing tens of millions of dollars on the Hill,” he said. “It’s time to invest in White Rock.”Milder spoke of the taxes the county now receives from LANL, which place the county in a position to help the schools with their aging facilities needs. He also advocates supporting the Lab in their complex transformation efforts.Manuel BacaBaca chose to run for council, he said, because of his son and his son’s friends. “They feel under represented and ignored,” Baca said. It’s important to get young people involved in the democratic process and we do that by moving things along.Baca, a native New Mexican, said Los Alamos has some great dining and retail businesses but there needs to be more option to keep people from going off the Hill.Baca is the only candidate at the forum to speak disparagingly about the Lab. Director Mike Anastasio, Baca said, lives in Santa Fe and he and other “highly paid” lab officials “could care less about people in Los Alamos finding affordable housing.”