Democrat, County Councilor Chandler to run for Dist. 43

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By Jill McLaughlin

Los Alamos County Council Vice Chair Christine Chandler has announced her run for the Democratic nomination for New Mexico House Dist. 43.

Chandler is a former Los Alamos National Security employee and Los Alamos National Laboratory employee who worked at the lab from 2002-2012 as a practice group leader. She also worked as senior counsel at LANS from 2012-2013. Besides serving her first term on County Council, she also serves on the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities.

Chandler and her husband, George, are known in the community for their involvement in municipal politics. Christine Chandler served as probate judge from 2013-2016 and was elected as county councilor in November 2016.

In her work at LANL, Christine Chandler worked in the lab’s counsel office during an investigation into massive fraud and leaked documents to the press.

Christine Chandler was mentioned in a March 12, 2003 hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. The report, called “Investigation of Management Problems at Los Alamos National Laboratory,” mentions Christine Chandler in a prepared statement of Glenn A. Walp, a consultant for the Office of the President of the University of California.

At the time, Christine Chandler was an employee of Frank Dickson.

Walp states: “Ms. Chris Chandler, an employee of Dickson, attempted to forcefully secure confidential FBI investigative notes from me, through verbal intimidation; she was refused access to the notes. During the discourse, she stated that she did not care about anyone’s constitutional rights or the successful prosecution of an FBI investigation. If Chandler would have obtained these notes, it could have jeopardized multiple OSI/FBI investigations.”

Christine Chandler said Thursday she remembered the report, but that it was not true.

“It’s just not a true statement,” she said. “And as you probably know, nothing ever came of it. Meaning, if I had done something improper, something would have happened, right? And then, several lab managers were fired during that period of time, or encouraged to leave the laboratory.”

Christine Chandler said she was promoted to group leader at some point following the investigation, and retained her position for 10 years, or so.

“So, I guess if anyone had thought there was any impropriety on my part that promotion would not have occurred or been sustained,” Christine Chandler said.

In their private time, the Chandlers sued the Los Alamos County Council in 2010, causing a several-month delay of the new county municipal building. At a Dec. 21, 2010, meeting, County Council voted 5-2 to settle the suit that called for an injunction and declaratory judgment in relation to a citizen petition that called for voters to decide whether the county should build a new municipal space or reconstruct a replica of the original at Ashley Pond.

“We prevailed in that case,” Chandler said. “We had a sound legal position in that case.”

At the time, George Chandler said the couple was happy to have been successful.

“We are happy to have reached an agreement with the Los Alamos County Council that was approved last night,” George Chandler said at the time. “Filing the request for an injunction and declaratory judgment required quite an effort on our part and some trouble and expense to the county.”

Christine Chandler is involved in several community groups. She serves as vice president of the board of directors of the First Born Program of Los Alamos and is on the board of The Delle Foundation. She is a member of the board of the Regional Coalition of LANL communities and also serves as its secretary.

Christine Chandler also has worked at the New Mexico Legislature for three sessions as a legislative analyst and has developed an extensive network of legislators and staff.

“I am running because I want to make New Mexico a better place for all New Mexicans by championing initiatives that improve education, emphasizing early childhood education, and that support healthy families,” Chandler wrote in a release Thursday. “We also need to address effective criminal justice reform that improves public safety.”

She said in the release that she has worked collaboratively for decades within Los Alamos and the state to improve communities and to eliminate the problems that drive poverty in New Mexico.

In the release, Chandler said she hopes to emulate Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard’s service as an advocate for education and working families.

Garcia Richard was first elected in 2012 and will vacate the position to run for the statewide office of land commissioner this year. 

Chandler will face Councilor Pete Sheehey in the Democratic primary. Republican Lisa Shin of Los Alamos is running for Dist. 43 in the Republican primary.

Chandler said she has lived in New Mexico for over three decades. Her grandparents were immigrants to this country.

Chandler graduated from Smith College with a degree in economics. She has law degrees from Boston College and Georgetown University, and recently retired from her career as an attorney and manager at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She is married to George Chandler and through her marriage, has three children and six grandchildren who live in Los Alamos, Carlsbad and Oregon.

The primary is June 5.