Like I have in the past, I will do and post to Progressive Action NH some candidate interviews. I hope to cover as many Democratic and progressive minded candidates as possible and as soon as possible to help voters and New Hampshire citizens see who might be representing them. Most importantly, I hope this will allow voters to get to know progressive minded candidates a little better. The goal of these interviews is to introduce the people to the potential representatives or senators and to place that in a casual context, as if you the voter were sitting in the living room of each of these candidates.
At this point (this is being published on Monday, September 12th), the primaries are only one day away, on Tuesday, September 13th. We hope that people will look at and share these interviews and learn a little more about their candidate, their history, their views and what they hope to accomplish if they get in. The focus now rests on candidates facing opposition from other Democrats in the primary. We got most of our interviewees as recommendations from other progressive groups or individuals. Once the primary is over, the focus will widen to as many progressive minded candidates as possible up to the general election.
Probably a better way to describe these interviews is conversations. Certainly with Sherry Frost in Dover, we had more of a conversation as she felt she could speak more freely since she isn’t being challenged at all. So we spoke more generally and philosophically on issues from her experience as a teacher, to Occupy to social change movements and the general political culture, we didn’t stick to a structured question and answer format.
Unlike most state legislative bodies, the positions of the house and senate are not paid positions and the cost to run, especially for a house seat is low in comparison to other states. As a result ideology influences more than money and input from constituents is often welcome and encouraged. As a result, the ability of regular citizens to influence house reps and senators is also greater than average, although unfortunately most people don’t realize this.
One thread that pulls through with all these potential politicians (and some currently serving) is that they have a strong sense of commitment to their community. They serve because they want to make their community the best it can be and believe they can help do it. They come from diverse backgrounds, like Richard Komi, running for house rep, Ward 5, Manchester, Hillsborough 12 who was a Nigerian refugee and is now a family man with a SNHU education and career in human services, or Ted Boson,running for state rep, Coos 3, Berlin, a retired attorney and Massachusetts refugee who now runs a bed and breakfast in Berlin and is starting a farm that will offer “the best Feta cheese you’ve ever had” and other products from his soon arriving herd of dairy goats. Some folks love to talk about politics, some only answer our questions briefly and admit that they need to learn more about some issues.
The goal overall is that people will see these candidates as simply people. They aren’t all ambitious hopeful career politicians, in fact, in light of the $100 paycheck for serving for an entire year, blind ambition for a career in serving should be viewed with some concern for the srate of their mental health. Serving in the house or senate is a personal sacrifice of one’s time and often even maybe temporarily some might say, one’s sanity. With the current state of the House especially in the last few years swinging ever more perilously into right-wing and libertarian nut-bag land, service in the House can at times strain the sane. Possibly if more people came out and voted besides the curmudgeonly and the paranoid, we might have a saner legislative body that spear-heads a new and progressive future for New Hampshire.
Some caveats to admit here: These interviews — or conversations if you will, are not perfect. They often do not fit a structured question and answer format. They are not news bites or necessarily promotional pieces that give a quick glimpse of one’s best side. These are sit-downs where the candidate answers some basic questions that may be asked a little differently each time.
This was done by one person who did the typing, the transcribing, the editing, the recording and the questions alone. This one person (me) is not perfect. I don’t have the latest technology, any helpers or even a lot of time and sometimes barely any gas money. I hope to get out all the primaried candidates I interviewed before the primary day so that people will have them to refer to when voting. I plan on interviewing more candidates after the primary and posting interviews I’ve already done with candidates not being challenged, who will head off into the general election.
If you liked the interviews or have questions, please comment or contact me via a message through our Facebook page. If there is opportunity and time, candidates for other offices will be included such as county commissioner, executive councilor. Also, since its assumed that most people who read this blog are progressive minded, we don’t intend to interview Republicans and dont’ expect they’d want to give us their time. (The same with Free Staters, but we’ll leave them for another discussion.)
Also, I will post extra information about candidates at the end of each interview for people’s further research, most of which could be found on a google search anyway, but I do the work for you, because I’m like that. I will also post contribution request pages if the candidate has such. All candidates need help with their elections. They can’t afford staff and usually don’t have a cadre of volunteers. They need help with canvassing (door knocking), phone banking or even just holding a sign and smiling to passing voters at the polling place for an hour or two on voting day. If you like a candidate in your area call them and see if you can give an hour or two of your time. It can make all the difference. So anyway, onward, enjoy!
Some information about the New Hampshire legislature:
New Hampshire has a huge state legislature with 424 members. 400 of those members are state representatives who sit in the state House, the lower chamber of the legislature. The other 24 sit in the state Senate, the upper chamber. Both chambers originate bills, although often the house traditionally originates most money/finance related bills. The two chambers send bills they pass back to and forth between houses — each house holds public hearings (where anyone can attend and have their say), they go through committees for revision until finally they are sent to the governor after a full vote of either the house or senate, to be signed into law or vetoed. House members serve two year terms. Senate members serve two year terms.
That’s the simple, annotated version (and I can’t stress that enough), to learn more about the state legislature, how it works and to look up profiles and contact information of presently serving members, use the best resource: nh general court
Also, its worth nothing that because of the vast number of state representatives in the house and their short terms, the New Hampshire Democratic party and most groups look to the Senate as the place to put their energy, money and time. The Senate serves as the chopping floor, the life or death of the bill often relies on decisions of Senators, over that of any reps in the House and there’s only 24 members to focus on.
This leaves a vacuum in the state house that unfortunately libertarians and the right-wing are filling. As a result we have a dearth of progressive representation and this does not necessarily represent the public, or their interests in many districts. In fact, I’m confident arguing that this vacuum could be filled by good progressives if we do our work, but its up to us to get that done and it starts tomorrow on primary day.
If you want to help out a local candidate please contact Rights and Democracy through their Facebook page or contact the state rep candidate you want to help out directly.