“It is illegal to hold elections on questions that should be resolved by administrative or executive action.”
I am struck by how many times people bring up the Municipal Building, in my exam chair and in the neighbourhoods. It’s our $20 million dollar “Taj Mahal” that is costing tax payers $600,000/year for operations and maintenance. We were $10 million over budget, which could have been used to directly improve the lives of our kids and help with the tremendous needs in neighboring communities. Our County actually demolished low-income housing and displaced families for this Palace!
We all choose our battles. As lawyers, the Chandlers could have chosen to be an advocate for the citizens. Instead, they chose to fight against the citizens, not for them. They silenced the voices of the citizens who had no say in how their tax dollars would be used. Local elections give people a voice in our government and vote for what they believe in. It ensures a democratic and responsible government, as well as participation on issues that directly affect them. It also keeps our elected officials accountable and prevents a minority from dictating the policies of a majority. Once you understand their guiding principle, everything that they do and say, makes perfect sense!
Read on (& vote for Brady Burke for County Council 2018 on Election Day!)
In the current political environment, where our government thinks that they should make all the decisions for us, we are offered Christine Chandler as a candidate for county council. I had to think back on the name, as I recall it being associated with some controversy in Los Alamos in the not too distant past. Following a bit of research, it all came back.
In 2010, Christine and her husband, both attorneys, sued the county to keep a petition, regarding a proposed location of the new municipal building, from being put in front of the voters of Los Alamos County. Roughly, the petition suggested letting the voters decide if the new municipal building might go back where the old one was torn down. Prior to the lawsuit, the county council thought voter input was appropriate, given the petition. The whole ballot process had been set up and was ready to go, but it would appear that the Chandlers didn’t want that to happen. From all the articles in the Los Alamos Monitor, it wasn’t like there was some grand movement, public sway or another petition that drove them to champion the cause. It looks like it was just them and a pup tent where they wanted the new building to be.
So they brought the lawsuit. They argued several points about wording of the petition and terms like “logrolling.” Well, we’re not all lawyers. We citizens tend to grab onto ideas and hope the thrill doesn’t get watered down, budget-overrun or lost in legalese. Granted it was not their responsibility to correct a petition that they opposed.
So, rather than acknowledging the intent of the voters who signed the petition, based on its ideas, and help clarify the petition, they brought the rule of law to kill it on a technicality. In one fell swoop, they demolished the efforts of the people that collected the signatures, disregarded the wishes of the people that signed the petition, disrespected the voters of Los Alamos and put the county council in its place
One would suspect that they brought the ire of some upon themselves, as they later authored some editorial pages explaining how the law worked, citing relevance and precedence, and how their lawsuit was founded in the laws. They went on to explain how petition writers should do it right, be held accountable, continue to try to be good petition writers and come to fight another day.
All the while, the opportunity for the voters of Los Alamos to vote on a community issue, which they had raised through a petition, had been killed by the Chandlers and somehow rationalized in their minds, and editorials, as just. So the point is not where did the municipal building end up. The point is someone is running for the county council who thinks they know better than you, what is best for you.
The question, then, is would you vote a person into office who has demonstrated that their interest, and their ability to impose and enforce that interest, is greater than the voters’? Isn’t that who they purport to represent? Someone, like Christine Chandler, who has shown to what lengths they are willing to keep community matters out of the community’s hands, shouldn’t be making decisions for us on the county council.
by Brady Burke, submitted to the Los Alamos Monitor on May 18, 2016