Scott hopes to draw on work experiences as county councilor
Working inside a granite mountain in Russia that housed three nuclear reactors may not be comparable to serving on the Los Alamos County Council, but Sara Scott believes there are similar processes to be used for achieving positive results in each situation.
Scott, an inorganic chemist who retired from Los Alamos National Laboratory about five years ago, is running for a seat on the Los Alamos County Council as a Democrat in the June 5 primary.
She has lived in Los Alamos for about 30 years with her husband, Brian, and children Jennifer, Benjamin, Luke, Anna and Nora.
“I love Los Alamos. It’s a great place.” Scott said. “I’ve raised kids here, I’ve worked here, I’ve volunteered here and I want to give back. I’m taking this very seriously and I’m working really hard as a candidate.”
Scott started with LANL doing research, then moved into analytical chemistry work and then over to the nonproliferation portion of the lab.
One of the projects she worked on was a joint effort between the United States and Russia.
“We were working together with their experts at a facility that was producing about half a ton of weapons-grade plutonium per year,” she said. “It was located in a granite mountain, and so during the Cold War nobody even really knew what was there. They knew something was there but they didn’t know what. There were actually three reactors underground there in that mountain.”
Both sides had to overcome several obstacles to ensure the success of the project.
“It was important and it was challenging,” Scott said. “You had to work across cultural barriers and communications barriers. You had to work with a lot of people with a lot of different technical expertise that came from different backgrounds. It was important work and it needed to be done right. But we were able to go in, establish priorities and develop a plan for accomplishing what needed to be done.”
Scott believes her success in situations like that would prove invaluable as a county councilor.
“There are a lot of those types of experiences I feel I can draw on in a council position,” she said.
Scott said going through this campaign process has helped her gain more knowledge about not only how the council works, but also what the residents of the county see as priorities.
“I’ve attended meetings and read plans and plans and plans,” she said. “I’ve talked with leaders, people who’ve worked for the county, business leaders in Los Alamos, business developers, educators and just many people you would want to learn from,” she said. “And I have learned a lot.”
The most important thing Scott said she’s been doing is listening.
“We’ve had chat sessions and I’ve been going door to door,” she said. “I’ve been telling the citizens that I’m here to hear what’s on their mind, to find out what’s important to them, to know what their concerns are. People have been incredibly helpful and appreciative.”
She added, “They’ve told me, ‘Thank you for coming. Thank you for hearing me.’ But that’s just part of the way I handle new challenges and responsibilities, by listening and learning.”
Valuing the opinions of others is another way Scott has been successful.
“That’s another one of the things I think I bring to the position,” she said. “All of us have some ideas, but I think I’ve been successful in projects and things I’ve undertaken previously because I really do want input from others, to learn from that and have the ability to synthesize the input.”
When asked what topics she’s hearing as priorities from county residents, Scott listed housing as a big concern.
“There’s a challenge out there on multiple fronts,” she said. “It’s the spectrum of people that are coming to town needing a place to live and they’re trying to do the math: ‘If I find a house here it’s expensive, if I move to Santa Fe I’ll have other expenses.’ So it’s everything from families coming to town and having a hard time finding a place to live all the way to people that are having a hard time finding affordable housing.”
She continued, “I’ve heard that from people who are the very fabric of our community, people that we want here and need here, but are having a hard time finding affordable housing.”
And in some cases it’s as simple as desiring a living arrangement, like a condo, within walking distance of downtown amenities.
“But those options aren’t available anymore,” she said.
Another hot topic Scott is interested in is the idea of bringing in more businesses, stores and restaurants.
“I get a lot of feedback on that,” she said. “And I would first of all make it a priority and call it a manager’s priority so anytime the council meets we talk about it. Every time. That’s a priority.”
First, though, she said there should be a solid plan in place detailing the direction in which the county should go in order to be successful in these endeavors.
“We shouldn’t talk about it if we don’t have a plan and so the key to that is putting together a plan,” she said.
She said it’s a matter of looking at what is “reasonable” as well as what “gets us to our goals of what we want to be.”
As for any project, she said, “You’ve got to know the scope, you’ve got to know why we’re doing it, to what end for our county, you’ve got to know what’s feasible and then you can go out and work it.”
One project that comes to mind is the old Department of Energy parcel near the Integrative Dentistry Clinic just off Trinity Drive.
“That location could be awesome for a couple of pieces of our plan, but which one is most strategic for us?” Scott said. “Do we want to let someone do whatever they want there or do we want to have a discussion with them about, ‘OK, you want to do that, but here’s what fits into our strategic plan, our community housing plan? Can we work together on this?’”
She continued, “I appreciate the conversation that it’s private property and you should be able to do what you want, but there’s also a lot of conversation about (developers) wanting to get the county’s help on possible projects. Well, we can help and that’s great because it gives us a voice in the matter.”
Scott said she has many qualities she can put to good use on the council, none the least of which is her love of Los Alamos.
“I have a combination of perspective, experience and listening and communication skills that would work well for the community,” she said. “I love Los Alamos and I absolutely want to help this town stay amazing.”
Letter To The Editor: Thank You For Supporting My Candidacy
By SARA SCOTT
I would like to thank the following individuals for the support of my candidacy. I’m very grateful and honored by their confidence and that of many others who have provided support and encouragement. I hope to have the opportunity to serve the community in the coming years.
As we get closer to the primary date, I’m continuing to walk and knock on doors and will hold two more Let’s Chat sessions prior to June 5: please come and share your ideas and perspectives regarding our community.
- Thursday May 17, 1-3 p.m. at Rose Chocolatier, 149 Central Park Square in Los Alamos; and
- Wednesday May 30, noon to 2 p.m. at Time Out Pizzeria, 118 N.M. 4 in White Rock.
Laura and Roy Bohn, Laura and Ed Kober, Molly Cernicek, Steve Russell, Laura and Andy Wolfsberg, Ann Cernicek, Mary K Cernicek, Morrie Pongratz, Don Cobb, John and Sarah Gustafson, Rick Wallace, Steve Buelow, Craig Martin and June Fabryka-Martin, Judith McKenzie, Laura Loy, Ed Garcia, Doug Reilly, Susie Schillaci, Norm Schroeder, Barb Smith, Pat Walls, Allen Pratt, Dave Schiferl, Joe Granville, Nan and Jeff Sauer, Amy Birnbaum, Karyl Ann Armbruster, Lynn Strauss, Felicia Orth, Susan and Warren Oldham, Sue Newman, Laura Smilowitz, Erika Leibrecht, Benjamin Warner, Ellen McBee, John Berg and Brian Scott.
Letter To The Editor: Support Sara Scott For Council
By JOHN GUSTAFSON
Letter To The Editor: Sara Scott Is An Excellent Choice For Los Alamos County Council
By DOUG REILLY
I believe Sara Scott would be an excellent member of the County Council. She has worked over 23 years (1989 – 2013) at LANL in a variety of scientific and leadership positions.