by Kathryn Talbert
I met with Maureen Mann this Tuesday at her house in Deerfield. She is running for state representative, Rockingham, District 32, Candia, Deerfield, Nottingwood, Northwood. We had a discussion about her past experience in the state house, why she wants to run now and some of the skills and passions she would bring with her to Concord if elected.
Nestled in a small house in Deerfield, Maureen lives with her husband, a retired machinist and electrician and two dogs. Taking advantage of the sunny spring weather we sat at a table in a three-season room that obviously serves as an office and study for the Manns.
What made you decide to run?
Maureen started by informing me that she had lost in November 2014 to Brian Dobson who resigned on the first day to work for Frank Guinta.
“I was so concerned when this guy resigned on the first day, it has cost the four towns together over $20,000 to run a special election. And this is from Republicans who are always talking about wasteful spending! So I decided to run.”
According to your bio you have served in the legislature before correct?
“I have been elected three times, the first one was in a special election to fill a resignation and then I was elected twice beyond that.”
When you were serving in the past, what were the issues that came up for you then?
“I came into the legislature with the idea that the state’s rep’s job is to represent the people of the district. I did not come into this job with all kinds of ideas of what I should do. But right down to it I’m a Democrat, I believe in basic Democratic values.
What I’m proudest of is that most of the legislation that I introduced was at the request of my constituents. One of the areas I worked on was trying to give local communities more control over their local resources. I introduced legislation dealing with the dam on Dennis Pond in Northwood and I got Pleasant Lake in Deerfield classified as a Class A lake, which means in an emergency it could be used for town water.
I’ve worked with small businesses to help them get representation of local products in New Hampshire. Now that the Hooksett rest- stops are open, you can see the stores there sell only New Hampshire products; that’s what I was working for.
I was the prime sponsor of a bill for labeling GMOs. A local scientist in Deerfield really started educating me on GMO’s and transparency in labeling. When I was elected in 2012 I was the prime sponsor on legislation for labeling GMO’s. The issue will be introduced again in the upcoming session.
I also was involved in campaign finance reform and transparency in donations. I don’t know if you know about the article about the campaign financing of my opponent? My opponent has huge amounts of money coming from sources outside the state. What do they expect from her in return for this money?”
Tell more about your work on transparency and campaign finance reform.
“Well there are two different issues here; one was campaign finance. As a state rep, I have to disclose every donation in detail. And if I am a certain type of PAC, I don’t have to disclose anything; I don’t have to disclose who my donors are, where the money came from. So the question is, should these types of PACs have to disclose where the money is coming from?
Now you’re looking at people in the NH legislature are getting paid $100 a year. If people running for state senate for example, are raising $50,000 for campaigns, what does all this money mean? My donors for the most part are the residents in the four towns in my district.
The other bill was related to “model bills”. If I am prime sponsor, should I have to say, ‘This is the source of the bill and this is the agenda of that source, whether it is left or right.’ So basically I believe in transparency, about funding, about campaigns, even about meetings…”
What was it that you liked the most about serving?
“I liked the constituent services. The other thing was I was in the Public Works and Highways committee. One year we do the building budgets and the other the highway plan. I really enjoyed working with infrastructure. I’m interested in infrastructure and safety.
I think that also gets into making our state attractive to people and businesses to come here. Infrastructure development is important, do we have good roads? And also communication infrastructure that always comes up when companies say why should we move here? And not only that, but to retain our own young people.”
Yes what do you think we need to do make New Hampshire an attractive destination for young families?
“We need good communication infrastructure, transportation infrastructure, quality education and a good general qualify of life to offer.”
Tell me more about communication infrastructure?
“We’re not going to attract business without safe roads and businesses and without their employees having to sit in traffic for hours. We are not going to attract business without high speed internet. We are not going to be able to attract young people and families to New Hampshire and retain our own young people without infrastructure.
NH students already have the highest debt load in the country and we have the second most expensive state university system in the country. We need to fund quality education. Education is expensive, the fact is, and wherever you end up going to college is usually where you end up staying.”
What do we do to attract business to New Hampshire?
“What Republicans keep saying is, “Oh we have to cut taxes.”
But when you talk to businesses, they say “No that’s not on our agenda.”
We hear Republicans say a lot about the tax burden of business, do you agree that New Hampshire puts a high tax burden on business in this state and what could we change?
“New Hampshire has the eighth friendliest business environment in the country but I think the Business Enterprise Tax could be looked at.”
Let’s look at your opponent, Yvonne-Dean Bailey. One of the comments that I saw was in a Concord Monitor article of February 17th, where she says “past lawmakers have been writing blank checks” What do you think of that, is that true about New Hampshire lawmakers and can you answer to that?
“It depends. If you think that the state has no responsibility for the poorest among us, for those with disabilities, for education, for seniors, for veterans, then perhaps you think the state is writing blank checks, because you don’t believe that is the state’s obligation.
Otherwise I say, give me one specific example of these ‘blank checks’. It’s easy to use buzzwords and to generalize. How about providing a real example of profligate state spending and then I will take the criticism more seriously. I certainly think there could efficiencies in departments, of course there could be efficiencies in our households too. I bet every household could be more efficient, every government, every company could more ‘efficient’. But why don’t we start looking at certain inefficiencies instead of making general statements.”
Yvonne-Dean Bailey, she also said, “Our state adopted Common Core Standards”
Did the state adopt Common Core standards?
“That’s interesting, because I know individual towns are able to opt in or opt out. These four towns have all opted in. School boards, teachers and people who make those decisions decided to have Common Core. I am familiar with basically what it is, I know that it’s a not a curriculum.
It is a framework which local teachers can fill in in a way which is most appropriate for their students. But Common Core doesn’t tell you how to teach it, or that you have to have this method. People see it as something handed down from government and forcing schools to have something lock and step with the government. That’s not true. That state does not require any community to adopt Common Core, every community has the right to opt out.
Also, with Common Core you have to have assessments to provide results. We have always had assessment and any half way decent teacher uses assessment to figure out, ‘Am I teaching the students effectively? What do I do to achieve this?’ “Am I being effective in what I’m doing? Am I effectively teaching this and if not should I try a different way?”
You’ve got twenty-five kids in a classroom, they are not all the same and they don’t all learn the same. A teacher deals with all those kids and comes up with a way to assess those kids. One of the things I’m adamantly opposed to is tying teacher’s salaries to test results.”
You were a teacher yourself right?
“Yes, I taught at Medford High School in Medford, Massachusetts for over thirty years. I’ve taught kids whose parents were faculty at Tufts and some who were living in cars. Kids with difficult economic circumstances verses a kid with a secure home environment will test differently. Teachers are doing the best they can and trying to deal with the needs of their students and to tie those teacher’s salaries to those kids’ performance on test scores is a system that doesn’t understand the realities of public education.”
Your opponent also retweeted a claim that you “don’t support school choice”
“I believe in public education. I had a good education myself, I was a public school teacher. I believe public education is the answer for so many children to get from where they are to where they want to go. I voted against public funding for non-public schools.
My opponent went to parochial school and to a very expensive and high quality private school. It’s wonderful that she’s fortunate to have those opportunities. But for the average student, a private school tuition is at an average of $40,000 a year and a voucher is for less than $2,000. That is not going take a kid living in poverty into an elite prep school.”
Do you support the Affordable Care Act because your opponent has expressed that she does not.
“39,000 New Hampshire residents, often working one or two jobs to make ends meet now have health insurance. I think it’s outrageous that they [the GOP] want to take it away from them.
So this current budget does not refund Medicaid expansion because people say the state will have to pay 10%. But the fact is that it’s far more expensive for people to not have access to healthcare such as regular check-ups. You are preventing problems that cause people without insurance to wait and then flood emergency rooms and take up space in hospitals that the taxpayer will have to reimburse. It’s as if those who are against the ACA believe that they or none of their families will ever fall on hard times.”
Would you take people’s guns away or do you want people to not be able to have guns?
“I am not opposed to the second amendment, that’s a ludicrous thing to say, it’s like saying I don’t support the constitution, but I have no problem with background checks.”
Why do you think the voters should come out and support you on May 19th?
“I have a proven record of support for my constituent’s needs. I have a proven record of being accessible to my constituents. I have a proven record of service to these four towns.”
For more information about Maureen Mann:
see her on Facebook at: Maureen Mann – NH House of Representatives
Some citizen-video on Vine
Some of Maureen’s editorials published in The Forum
Cuts to the Department of Transportation
The Real Cost of Public Education
Cuts to DHS Hurt All of Us: Part One
Cuts to DHS Hurt All of Us: Part Two