Why am I running?

"I love our community"

'Local Boy Makes Good'

      When I was first starting out my adult career in Los Alamos in the 1980s, working as a writer and photographer for the local newspaper, my fellow reporters and I used to joke about that headline because those stories were the bread and butter of a small-town newspaper. Our editor and our readers demanded them.

     So nearly every day I used to bust hump, searching high and low, talking to people in businesses, on street corners, at sporting events, at meetings...every place I could think of, really.

     I've never lost the drive to hear people's stories, to take notes on daily life in a small town, to look around and really see what's going on. I love our community, and that's why I'm eager to serve as your County Councilor. I will be an advocate, a sounding board, a neighbor...an active member of our community working diligently every day to make our county the best it can possibly be. For everyone who calls Los Alamos their home.

This Local Boy's Story

     I realize it's the American way to post your credentials to let people know that you know something about something, so here's a rundown of some of the highlights of a very eclectic life:

  • A successful 24-year career at Los Alamos National Laboratory as a communications specialist, with my final two years spent working with the Director in a role that combined communications, strategy, policy, and chief-of-staff-like functions. I am an expert at crisis communications, and at translating highly technical topics into layman's terms.

  • A seat on the Los Alamos County Council from 1996-2000. That term included disaster management and recovery efforts after the devastating Cerro Grande fire, DOE land-transfer negotiations, planning for the end of annual federal assistance payments, and building the first Research Park building.

  • Bachelor's degree in philosophy from New Mexico State University.

  • In conjunction with my life partner of 21 years, we created and managed a volunteer effort to bring the first highly popular bicycle rides to the Valles Caldera National Preserve.

  • Successful freelance writing and photojournalism career for more than 25 years.

  • Certification as a bicycle mechanic, which led to creation of a small business in Los Alamos.

My Principles

Sustaining Excellent Quality of Life

     What good is a community with outstanding natural and man-made amenities if we don't bother sustaining or improving those amenities for the next generations?

     County Councilors, on behalf of the citizenry, are the front-line stewards of Quality of Life in Los Alamos. They set policy that drives actions of all types. And these actions have consequences for every resident—now and in the future.
     If our goals are to ensure that Los Alamos remains a vibrant, desirable community, sustainability must be the basis for all policy and action. Our policies must protect our aquifer, our natural areas, and other assets that belong to the taxpayers of our county. If the Council considers using any community-owned asset, then it needs to consider whether the proposal truly presents the highest/best use of the asset and whether it will lead to long-term sustainability of the community and its residents.
     I believe that with the resources and creativity we have in this community, Los Alamos can become a model for other communities seeking to responsibly ensure lasting Quality of Life for their residents.
County Council members must never lose sight of the fact that their first responsibility is acting in the best interests of all of the residents of our community—not just the most vocal or the best connected.

     Along those lines, here are a few of my core principles related to local government:

  • Local government exists to serve the citizens of the community.

  • Good policy is one that strives for a "win-win." A bad policy is one that sets up winners and losers.

  • Our citizens are Los Alamos County's most important customers. County employees should never lose sight of the fact that the County money they are spending and the paycheck they are receiving are funded by the residents of the community.

  • Local government should be transparent and accountable. Citizens always have the right to know (except for those rare exceptions outlined by law), and citizens shouldn't need to employ extraordinary or onerous methods to access public information.

  • Citizen input is important. Citizens should be welcome and expected at public meetings; efforts should be made to facilitate reasonable citizen input on issues. If citizen input leads to a meeting that goes beyond midnight, then it was poor planning on the part of the County staff and Council to load the agenda with an untenable number of items.

  • The County Council need not operate in "crisis mode" when there is no crisis.

  • "Expediency" should never be an excuse for circumventing difficult issues.

  • For the most part, if a large number of citizens say they weren't aware of an important issue, then that is a failing of the County's public information practices, not the citizenry.

  • Wherever possible, balancing the budget shouldn't be done on the backs of the citizens; budget realities sometimes require difficult choices, and it is the duty of elected officials to make the hard choices.

  • If the County considers using any community-owned asset, then it needs to carefully consider whether the proposal truly presents the highest/best use of the asset.

  • Yes, even the reasonable perception of a Conflict of Interest is good enough reason for an elected official to abstain from voting.

  • The buck stops with the elected officials, because they are the ones who set policy for the community.

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James Rickman

- for County Council -


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2482 35th Street
Los Alamos, NM  87544

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