In the spirit of highlighting progressive action throughout the state, we will highlight the progressive candidates running for the New Hampshire State House. While we do not endorse individual candidates, we will from time to time inform people of their choices so that they can have the most information possible when they go to the polls. The New Hampshire state legislature is one of the third largest legislative bodies in the world, consisting of 400 members from 103 districts in the state.
[Editor’s Note: We had hoped to highlight more candidates but ran short of time. We do intend to highlight reps and senators in the state house in the coming legislative season, your tips and suggestions are greatly appreciated. We also do not directly endorse any candidates for office but wish to seek out and highlight those candidates with progressive values.]
In America there exists just two parties that receive official recognition on the ballot. The NH Democratic Party, which follows the national Democratic Party in philosophy and positions and the NH Republican Party (often called the Grand Old Party or GOP) which also follows the direction and philosophy of the national party, but has shown some dramatic shifts further toward the right since the election of Barack Obama, the first black man elected to the POTUS position.
In New Hampshire, if one does not necessarily wish to align entirely with either party, one can register as an ‘undeclared’ (or independent as most commonly referred by folks). Voters can register themselves as independents which allow them to vote across party lines on the ballot. Many feel this gives them the freedom to judge candidates individually separate from party ideology or frame. Those running as any other affiliation besides Democrat or Republican must run as independents and to do so requires some wrangling through a requirement to get a certain number of signatures from folks who say they support your candidacy and your party being on the ballot. The number of signatures and petitions is rather high, requires a lot of time and organization to collect. Without an organized effort and long term planning, this requirement often cannot be met.
For those interested in the growth and development of the two political parties, we strongly recommend you research them, an understanding of the development of the two party system and the interests either one represents and their changes over the course of their existence makes for interesting reading and an important understanding of the origins of American power and how that effects major policy decisions and direction.
But that is not our focus here. Our focus here is to highlight the candidates and existing members of the NH State House of Representatives that have an ideology that more reflects a humanist and progressive view. We want to highlight those individuals who have the courage to stand up for their beliefs and speak truth to power, despite the overwhelming pressure to do otherwise. They are most often members of the Democratic Party, but this may not always be the case.
We have three prospective candidates to profile here, all who are committed to progressive values such as protecting the environment and undoing the insidious creep of corporate control in government such as ALEC and the forces that wish to undo all regulation and remove responsibility of large mega-corporations over our lives both locally and nationally.
Tim Smith, Hillsborough District 17, (Manchester, Wards 10-12)
Tim Smith knows full well the struggle of living on the edge. Born in Massachusetts, his parents struggle to survive, living hand to mouth on low-wage laboring jobs throughout New England and as far away as Florida, moving to wherever the work was like many low-wage families must.
Tim says, “I know what its like to stand in a bread line.” Tim says, “As I grew up and especially coming into my teen years I began to see the social contradictions in popular messages at the time and the world I was living in it, it was very confusing at the time.”
Relating the social changes that occurred in the Reagan administration and other Republican administrations, “I have had personal experience struggling with the effects of Republican policies.”
But he also looks back on his and reflects that through it all he managed to get an education on his own and obtain a good career. Now employed in the info-tech field, Tim feels that he has long escaped the struggles of his childhood. Tim has earned a BS in Info-Tech Management from Kaplan University.
On what he sees as his role as a state rep, “The role of a state rep is very limited in scope, I have realistic expectations about what I can accomplish.” he says, but adds that he has strong progressive beliefs that he will uphold to the last, “I will have no problem taking the bully pulpit on issues that I firmly believe in.”
On revenues and taxation: “As a progressive, I don’t expect equal outcomes, but equal opportunity.” he says, relating that the current system of revenue expenditure and acquisition does not favor equal opportunity. “We’re already the 49th lowest out of 50 states in spending in the country on social programs, there is nothing there to cut.”
When asked about taxation, “We need to reframe the entire discussion, government doesn’t have to be expensive in order to be efficient, and it doesn’t have to be large in order to be effective.” Tim advocates looking all expenditure allocations and re-examing our priorities with how we use the money we have.
On the environment: “I’m not entirely sure about what we can do on a state level, but I will always provide opposition to federal encroachments on our environment.”
On the war and the military/industrial complex, in particular the militarization of police departments: “There’s a really complex relationship under state and federal military build-up; the Governor has control over the National Guard and oversight as the state’s commander in chief.” On police build-ups of armaments, “There is no legitimate need for a police department to have a military infrastructure.”
On corporate control in democracy: “I am very concerned about how people are expected to sacrifice their personal privacy and surrender their rights to privacy in order to be able to purchase goods, even such as housing or services. I will work hard to limit corporate prying into people’s lives.”
ALEC: “On ALEC I go by the old adage that sunlight is the best disinfectant and I think ALEC ties in with my strong interest in campaign finance reform.”
Medical Marijuana or decriminalization: “I don’t have an opinion either way since I don’t use pot and never have, but I would vote for medical marijuana based on a civil liberties issue. I’m not interested though in allowing corporate take-over of distribution or growing, I’d want to see it remain a local issue for small users to be able to grow and have only for their personal use.”
On Prison Privatization: “I am totally opposed to privatization of prisons, there is really something very wrong with our justice system when we decide to hire out our justice system to the highest bidder, when private prisons have a clear incentive to keep their facilities full, we have a real problem.”
Tim has a website, Tim Smith, State Representative for District 17, for further reading on his views.
Lucy C. Edwards, Rockingham, District 1
A true activist at heart, Lucy has put her words into action, both as an environmental activist and even standing with folks in Occupy here in NH. Lucy grew up in a moderately conservative household, “My father was a surgeon at the local small hospital, we were middle class but by no means wealthy.” Lucy says she feels fortunate that she’s been able to grow up in her family and had enormous respect for her father who was also a World War II veteran. “I had a real grounding growing up in the post-war era.”
Lucy attended Bradford College and earned a BA in 1980 in Human Studies, which encompassed studying sociology and economics. When living in Cleveland in the 80’s Lucy notes her that one epiphany time for her was meeting and forming an enduring friendship with feminist writer Carol Gilligan, who turned her onto liberal politics and feminism. On her pursuit of higher education Lucy says, “I was really curious about the question of women, why do we end the way we are? Especially now after all this time?”
Lucy worked at a stock brokerage firm as an office administrator during from 1999-2010, “I was able to watch the rollercoaster ride, and was able to see what was happening, and did a lot of reading about economics. It was really an educational experience to work there.”
In 2003 Lucy got involved in the Howard Dean campaign and became politically active from there, “I really learned a lot about how to organize from that campaign, they were great.” She had been elected as town selectwoman in Northwood shortly before that where she served for three years. “I really was able to see how towns in this state struggle.”
For the last four years Lucy was a board member of the Bear Paw Regional Greenways, a local landtrust, “They began making wildlife corridors between Bear Brook State Park and Pawtuckaway, and expanded from there. It is a very intensive, hands-on board.”
In 2009 Lucy also organized a group that founded the local farmer’s market in Northwood, “I just saw that as an extension of my belief in local sustainability, it makes sense to have a local market market for them to reach the people” and Lucy adds, “I wanted to buy local food for my family.”
Lucy’s candidacy received the endorsement of the NH Sierra Club in October.
On marijuana legalization or decriminalization: “I think the war on drugs is a dreadful waste of money and human life. If we spent a pittance of what we spend on prisons, where most of the inmates have some sort of drug, alcohol and/or mental issues, on treatment, housing and other ameliorative measures, we’d all be a lot better off. I suspect we need to address the entire spectrum of the issue, but for now I certainly would support legalization of medical marijuana.”
Revenue and taxation: Lucy reflects on her experience as Northwood selectwoman and the struggles over scarce funds, “It can really heated, pitting neighbor against neighbor over the crush of property taxes.”
“Schools get their money first, and then voters take out their frustration on the town budget. It’s hard to vote against education for our kids, but it is apparently easy to vote against health insurance or raises for town employees,” Lucy says, in stating how the limited revenue structure in the state leaves people afraid to raise revenue at all.
“Small towns are essentially run on volunteers, along with the state legislature. This country has stopped growing legislatively for one hundred years,” she said, noting that the hundred dollar annual pay rate for representatives was voted in over one hundred years ago and has never been raised.
Lucy adds, “I think everything should be evaluated in terms of the long-term consequences, including fiscal policy.”
Of any larger issues Lucy says, “I realize I’d be a newbie and I’ll have plenty to learn.” she says, cautioning about getting too full of ideas about how much change she’ll be able to make. But Lucy names her priorities without hesitation, “Environmental issues, campaign finance reform, woman’s issues, education and children and families.”
Asked if she would protect a woman’s right to choose, Lucy answers in the affirmative and adds, “I’m very, very concerned about our families, particularly children and women.”
“I support education I think that how we prepare our children for the future is of vital importance.”
Tess Smith – Barnstead, Gilmanton and Alton, District 8 (Floaterial)
Tess is modest about her foray into public life and her accomplishments, “I really wasn’t involved in public life at all.” but she relates how she went to a rally last year to oppose Right to Work legislation at the house, “That was the day that the executive council voted to defund Planned Parenthood, I just couldn’t believe it.” She says she then had an epiphany and became engaged in the political scene from that point.
Tess has a strong background in customer service, sales and management and real estate and now owns a cottage industry employing four women who make handmade surgical masks for healthcare workers, “I am very proud of what we do, its a true cottage industry, the women are able to work at home, be with their families and earn some money, I basically give them a kit and they take it from there.”
On government regulation as a small business owner Tess relates, “I don’t find the government restrictive at all, everything is very clear and above board and I am able to do what I love.”
Tess earned an associate’s degree and also raised two children as a full time mother. Growing up in Portsmouth, her mother was a stay-at-home mother and her father worked in the shoe industry, “We had good family values, I’m proud of my family and my extended family especially. I know you don’t have to have a lot of money to have a good values.”
Tess thanks NH Citizen’s Alliance and other women in the local political scene in getting her to make the step to run for state rep. “I became involved with Citizen’s Alliance writing letters to the editor, bird-dogging candidates and they showed me the tools for organizing on the grassroots level.”
On key issues, such as the environment, Tess relates, “I grew up on the Seacoast and I’m concerned about how public lands are used, I think we need to preserve them for everyone’s appreciation but how to preserve them properly is a concern.” Tess also relates when asked about Northern Pass, “I’m very concerned about issues of eminent domain.”
She also named climate change, clean air and water as vital environmental concerns.
On campaign finance reform and ALEC: “I am very concerned about it, we need to get corporate interests out of our political interests.” Tess said that she would definitely be a watchdog on this issue. She also admitted that as a progressive Democrat she probably won’t get solicited by ALEC, “Its such a Republican area and not really well known.”
Tess also states that she is morally anti-war and on taxation and revenue, “I follow the Jackie Cilley line; we need to put everything on the table; to use every tool in the arsenal to look at our funding issues statewide.”
On marijuana legalization/decriminalizaton: “Medical marjuana is a subject I know very little about. I would have to study that topic before I could make a decision.”
On women’s rights, “Its the part where we need to have to choose for ourselves.” she said on the issue of government intrusion into a woman’s right to choose. She also mentioned the need for broader access to healthcare for everyone.