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Ed Birnbaum: Why I'm Running For County Council

on May 8, 2014 - 4:34pm

By ED BIRNBAUM

I’m Ed Birnbaum, and I am running as a Democrat for a seat on County Council with a primary focus on the fire threat that exists, quality education at all levels, community viability within our budget, and making sure that decisions are made in a transparent manner.

I decided to run based in part on my experience last year as a member of the Los Alamos Utilities Charter Review Committee, where we were asked to address some important questions regarding Article V of the County Charter. Although many strongly-held opinions were expressed over the course of our many meetings, ultimately our Committee was able to reach a consensus on a revised Article V, which Council will soon be putting to a public vote. After some serious reflection on that experience, I realized that I wanted to continue to serve Los Alamos as a member of County Council to help meet the challenges of the future, and I believe that I have the background, experience and expertise to do so.

I have been a New Mexico resident for more than 25 years, originally moving here in 1968 to join the faculty at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces after receiving my PhD degree in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Illinois. My wife Amy and I raised our three children there, and we quickly grew to love New Mexico.

I left NMSU in 1992, then spent one year working at LANL on a remediation project, two years at the University of Hawaii, and another 15 years at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia as the department chair of Chemistry & Biochemistry. But when it was time to retire, Los Alamos was an easy choice. Not only because my daughter, son-in-law and my three grandchildren are here, but also, because having visited frequently, I know that Los Alamos has so much to offer and is a great place to live.

Chemists in general are trained as problem solvers, but my time as a department chair is particularly relevant to a position on Council. As chair I had to attract students and faculty to the Department and negotiate faculty salary and start-up packages. I had to assess faculty teaching, research and service performance, recommend equitable raises, encourage the development of new tenure-track faculty, maximize the effectiveness of tenured faculty, and as a last resort, encourage ineffective faculty to leave the University without disrupting department operations. I also proposed, planned, obtained funding for, and oversaw major renovation projects necessary to improve the safety and effectiveness of laboratory operations, and perhaps most importantly, balanced our budget every year, while meeting the needs of students and faculty.

If elected, I plan to bring a fresh perspective to the issues that face Los Alamos County, using these experiences to develop innovative solutions to important issues in a transparent manner. The immediate focus of my efforts include the following:

  • Water – So that the County has the water needed for development, to fight forest fires, and recreational opportunities that make Los Alamos a great place to live.
  • Education – So that the County continues to provide the quality education expected at all levels.
  • Viability – To ensure that Los Alamos County can grow and prosper in an economically sound and environmentally sustainable manner.
  • Fiscal Oversight – To ensure that tax revenues are used in a prudent and effective manner to serve the interests of all citizens.
  • Transparency – To ensure that Council actions are taken in the context of a well-informed public.

Please visit www.ed4lacouncil.com or my Facebook page for more information about my qualifications to be your County councilor. Absentee and early primary voting has already started!

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