Q & A series for council candidates begins today

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By Carol A. Clark

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of a series of questions asked by the Monitor to the five candidates running for County Council. The candidates responses will run each Sunday leading up to early and absentee voting, which begins Oct. 7. The election is Nov. 4.

Manuel J. Baca, 44, is the CEO and practice manager of Corazon del Oso Healthcare, LLC, where his wife is a doctor. The practice is at 3917 West Road, Suite 138. Baca studied theatre at the University of New Mexico from 1995–1998. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Theatre from Towson University in Towson, Md.

• Monitor: Why do you want to serve on county council and why should people vote for you?

• Baca: I want to serve on county council because I believe in public service and have spent most of my adult live dedicated to helping others.

People should vote for me because I’m a multi-faceted and multi-talented individual who has a vast amount of experience from outside of Los Alamos that I believe can help me bring the change that is needed and wanted by the community.

I believe that there is more to Los Alamos than just the Lab and I believe that there has been too much Lab influence on the way that Los Alamos has been run.  

Because of that, we have failed to move forward because we not only recycle the same ideas after we’ve analyzed them to death. We have recycled the same people to serve our community and it’s time for change.  

To quote Barak Obama “it’s time for a change we can believe in.” I don’t believe in wasting the people’s time or money being stuck in the same old methods of doing things when they’ve proven that they don’t work.

I also believe that every citizen in this community deserves representation and there has been a very strong and wide separation of the citizenry of Los Alamos.  

Most people believe that we have done an outstanding job caring for our seniors and I agree and I will fight to continue that work.  But it’s time to answer the question “What about the rest of us?”

Vincent P. Chiravalle, 34, is a Technical Staff Member in the Applied Physics Division (X) at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Chiravalle holds a Ph.D. in aerospace and mechanical engineering from Princeton University in Princeton, N.J., a master’s degree in aerospace and mechanical engineering from Princeton University, and a B.S.E., in aerospace and Mechanical Engineering also from Princeton University.

• Monitor: Why do you want to serve on county council and why should people vote for you?

• Chiravalle: I am running for county council because I believe that as a county we are spending more money than necessary on excessive capital projects.

I have a different set of priorities than the current council, which has allocated resources in a wasteful manner for expansive road work, building demolition projects, the West Jemez bypass, overly elaborate warehouses at the Airport Basin, extravagant sidewalk projects and a new municipal building that will have twice as much space as needed at twice the cost.

We are a small community and we are best served by frugal projects, yet many of the decisions of this council have made it more likely that a greater tax burden will be placed on our citizens in the future.

I believe that the people of Los Alamos County would be better served by the kind of priorities that I would bring to the Council.

We should fund the White Rock Downtown Master plan now, since the need for economic development is greatest in White Rock and the homeowners who live there deserve their fair share of County resources for development. We should fix our electrical grid now so that there are less interruptions and more reliable service.

We need to help our schools by lowering the county’s share of properties taxes, so that school facilities can be repaired without homeowners paying more taxes. We should expand retail options to encompass goods and services that are not currently available in Los Alamos County so that in these difficult economic times our citizens do not have to travel great distances outside the county to purchase the goods they need.

We should fund our public bus system so that our citizens can continue to ride for free, helping to mitigate the high cost of gas.

I have the leadership skills, ideas, energy and commitment necessary to enact my priorities, if given the opportunity to serve on the council.

As a public official, I would work to ensure that our county government lives within its means while continually promoting the growth of our local economy and reducing the burdens on working people and small business owners. I will work to make sure that our projects are good deals for the county and not windfalls for developers.

Ken Milder, 59,  is a Technical Staff Member in X Division’s Information Assurance Team at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He has a Bachelor of Science Degree in computer science with a concentration in science and mathematics from the College of Santa Fe and an associate’s degree in electrical engineering from Columbus State College in Columbus, Ohio.

• Monitor: Why do you want to serve on county council and why should people vote for you?

• Milder: I lived in the valley after the Cerro Grande Fire and it drove home the deep connection I have to Los Alamos. Commuting was okay but I missed my life in Los Alamos. I care deeply about our community and its welfare.

Four years ago the council was in tough times. Councilors were divided and staff was paralyzed by unclear and inconsistent guidance. So, after a 12-year break, the time was right to run again for council.

Council requires hard work and dedication of its seven members. Experience and skill brought a stabilizing balance to the council. It is now okay to be in the minority yet still respect and work with fellow councilors. But new approaches to meeting community challenges are needed.

Those challenges, economic development, workforce housing, and aging infrastructure to name a few, require new approaches to problem solving. It has been a hard fought battle but we are making unprecedented progress. There is a growing sense of hope in our blessed community; from the tearful mother who beseeched the council to address dismal shopping opportunities, to the retiree and 60-year resident who told me this is the first time in all those years that Los Alamos is making meaningful progress.

That progress has just begun. The experience, new ideas, and new approaches I brought to the council contribute to that progress. It is my hope that those who support that progress will support me with their vote.

Sharon Stover, 49, worked most recently as Juvenile Justice Advisory Board coordinator from 2004-2007. Stover holds a two-year administrative degree from Santa Fe Business College.

• Monitor: Why do you want to serve on county council and why should people vote for you?

• Stover: I want to serve on county council because I find public service most rewarding.

I am a good candidate because I know what I am getting myself into, especially after serving during the Cerro Grande Fire.

I was elected to council from 1998-2002 and served as chair and vice chair; I was appointed to fill an unexpired term in 1996.

Since 2002, I have continued to serve the community I have grown to love. I have been involved with several community initiatives including, Leadership LA, Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, Adult Leader for JUNTOS, Adult Leader for Los Alamos Youth Leadership, and I also serve on advisory boards for the YMCA, LA Commerce and Development Corporation, and the School Foundation.

We have lived in White Rock with our two kids for over 25 years.

I believe people should vote for me because I am passionate about and committed to what I get involved with. I want us to have a community we can all be proud to live in. I want to continue to be a strong, proactive voice in issues affecting youth and families to ensure that we come together to improve the quality of life for our multigenerational community.

While on council, I would go to the grocery stores and ask people what was on their mind. Now, on my website, www.stoverforcouncil.com, I invite people to tell me “what’s on your mind” and read the responses from others. I want to understand the concerns of the public.

Michael Wismer, 52, is group leader for Classified Matter Protection at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He holds a Master of Public Administration Degree from Troy State University, Troy, Ala., a Master of Science in criminal justice from Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Ken., and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from the University of Delaware in Newark, Del. He also is a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy.

• Monitor: Why do you want to serve on county council and why should people vote for you?

• Wismer: My 21-year career in the military gave me the opportunity to visit and live all over the world and in all corners of the United States. Of all the places I have visited, I chose to live my life in Los Alamos because of its beautiful vistas, scenic setting and quality of life.

I am asking voters for the opportunity to return to the county council because I realize a person only gets one pass at life and it’s important to use that opportunity to work for the common good of your community through active and committed involvement.

In my view, the consummate commitment to your community is to give your precious time and energy to serve as an elected official.

I want to serve on the Los Alamos County Council to do my part to continuously improve the quality of life, to stabilize and grow the economy, and to work in a mutually collaborative role with Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos Public Schools, UNM-Los Alamos, the governments of the other Northern New Mexico communities and Pueblos and our local business leaders.

I am asking the citizens of Los Alamos to vote for me because I believe I bring a wealth of experience, genuine enthusiasm and willingness to work hard for the future.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Next week's question is “Are you for or against the Trinity Site Project and why?”