Two vie for democratic nod in house district 43 race albuquerque journal

Sheehey acknowledged his political experience at that time was limited, also including a few years on the county’s Planning and Zoning Commission. But he has added to his résumé – and knocked on “thousands” more doors – since then by winning elections to County Council in 2012 and 2016.

As a councilor, he says he’s worked with state legislators on bills relating to LANL and expanding the Local Economic Development Act. A bill to expand the number of communities, including Los Alamos, that can access the state’s LEDA project funding passed in 2016. The 2018 bill that would require a nonprofit contractor for the lab to pay gross receipts taxes passed the House and Senate, but was vetoed by the governor earlier this year.


Before his 2012 retirement, Sheehey spent most of his career working on nuclear weapon safety. He came to LANL in 1986 as a student and spent his early years working on his thesis in nuclear fusion energy. The lab is also where he later met his wife of nine years, Naishing Key.

Tapping into his lab experience, his first official venture into politics was joining the Los Alamos Committee on Arms Control and International Security more than 20 years ago. The volunteer group of mostly retired and current lab employees, which he has led for the past 10 years, studies and relays information to New Mexico’s U.S. senators about nuclear weapon control treaties.

A job with a Santa Fe law firm brought her to New Mexico that same year. She later settled in Los Alamos, where around 1986 she became an in-house attorney for the lab, specializing in employment law. She worked there until 2013, excluding a year she took off in 1993 to pursue a second degree from Georgetown University in international and comparative law.

Chandler, like Sheehey, met her spouse, former physicist and now-lawyer George Chandler, at the lab. The two have been married since 1994 and have been in private practice together since 2013. She says they are transitioning toward closing the firm. Civic leadership is something she fell into living in Los Alamos, where she says the organizations are plenty, the county is small enough for someone to easily join local government, and citizens are engaged in local issues. “I’m not really sure why it is, it’s just the nature of how we are here and we reinforce those values in one another,” Chandler said.

Her previous public duties include serving as probate judge and on the county’s Charter Review Commission and Planning and Zoning Commission. She also served on the New Mexico Commission on Access to Justice, a group that aims to expand legal services for low-income residents.

Currently, she is on the boards of nonprofits First Born of Los Alamos, which provides support for first-time parents, and the Delle Foundation, which offers grants to women’s health- and children’s education-related projects. She has had two stints on the County Council and is its vice chair.

CHANDLER: The term sanctuary state means different things to different people depending on perspective. State officials must and should follow applicable federal law; however, it has been held by the federal courts that the federal government cannot require state officials to enforce federal laws.

SHEEHEY: I believe the United States is a sanctuary country by the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees all persons due process and equal protection of the law. If the Constitution is upheld, there should be no need for “sanctuary states.” New Mexico is a state of many cultures; all should be welcome.

CHANDLER: Many schools require improved perimeter and access controls, as well as enhanced training for staff, students and parents. We also need greater availability of behavioral health resources in the schools and elsewhere. Requiring universal background checks is an important first step to changing our gun laws.

SHEEHEY: I support in-school police officers and in-school health care offices, including mental health, to provide early treatment of mental health problems that lead to violence. I support thorough background checks on all sales of guns, using an improved national instant criminal background check system (including mental health information).