So we want a mayor...

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It was an interesting piece in the Los Alamos Monitor on the machinations of the Charter Review Committee “that doesn’t want a mayor but would prefer a super county council chairman.”  This looks like a “weak mayor” form of government but would not subject the position to a vote of the people.  The mayor would be a strong council chair who would be chosen for us by the council.
This sounds a bit elitist and it may well be since the CRC consists of former council chairmen and longtime members of county boards and commissions. This type of position would be beholden to the council members and not directly to the electorate.
Rather than have a top official recommended by the committee, there should be a vote of the citizens of Los Alamos, a plebiscite.  This would take a charter amendment that would need citizen approval. But, before that we need a simple question on the ballot, “Should Los Alamos have a mayor?” With such a measure there would have to be public debate. Everyone would have a voice.
Questions that would find advocates on either side are:
•Would we be electing a dictator who would not be responsive  to the people?  If this is a true concern, reasonable recall provisions can be written into the charter.
•Would career scientists be disenfranchised in running for mayor? Surely there is a choice here. Who decides?
•Would a full time mayor be too expensive for Los Alamos? Mayors salaries are not exorbitant and would be reasonable. After all we wouldn’t be electing a New York mayor. The staffing is already in place.
•What would a mayor do?  A good mayor would sell Los Alamos and bring a diversity of economic resources to Los Alamos. Mayors in Roswell, Española, Farmington, Las Cruces and many others have worked hard and succeeded in helping their economies grow. Los Alamos has had diminishing growth for the last several years and we may suffer for it. The people would require a vision of enhanced opportunity from mayoral candidates and hold them to it.
We have had good leaders but the form of government has hamstrung them and we can see the results. We have lost business and population that will serve us ill as per representation in Santa Fe.
The county council can authorize a vote on the simple question: “Shall we have a mayor?” Let us get on with it and let the debate begin. Surely we are not all that complacent.

Vernon N. Kerr
Los Alamos