Category Archives: NH People to Watch

Help Keep New Hampshire’s Progressive Humorist Mike Marland in Action!

Just before Christmas the Concord Monitor told their in-house political cartoonist Mike Marland that they were letting him go.  Their claim was cost-cutting measures, presumably the paper will pick up syndicated cartoons instead.

Unfortunately this cuts out an important angle of progressive satire local to New Hampshire and New Hampshire politics.  Marland always provided a fantastic wit and an ability to pick up the salient points on an issue and bring that out with cartoon art.  That’s a talent worth treasuring and a talent that provides an important outlet for frustration at the same and at the same time, critical analysis.

Its hard to wonder what exactly the Monitor has in store for its critical viewpoints, or that possibly Marland’s sharp progressive views have lost their shine in a paper that increasingly seems to provide a rather glossy and uncritical libertarian centered view on many issues.  We would hope that editorial direction was not the driving force behind Marland’s dismissal.

Marland’s satire provided an especial avenue for critical humor during the tumultuous period of the libertarian/Free Stater favorite, House Speaker Bill O’Brien who came into office on a Tea Party template of hostility toward government in the 2010 Tea Party driven electoral sweep.  The promptly decided to blow him out of office after two years with just as much energy as he entered.   Marland’s observations during this period were spot-on and provided a light of humor to a very difficult time.

We need Marland.  We in New Hampshire need strong progressive voices that speak up to the dominance of slavish obedience to extremists that seems to be increasingly common in state and national politics.  Times have again gotten difficult, extremists have entered both the house and the senate on a Scorched Earth strategy mirroring the national GOP strategy currently unfolding as well.   Our work will be hard, long and tiring.  Humorists and others in the arts play a crucial role in helping us all keep our eyes on the prize and reminding us of the oppositions frailties while poking a proverbial stick in their eye for our amusement.  We progressives love the arts, we know its importance in democracy and its link with creative satire.


IndepthNH is still looking for donors and underwriters to support his continued work.   They hope to feature him in IndepthNH’s online publications and we hope he finds other outlets for his work, possibly a publishing opportunity for his collected works as well?

In fact, we have posted one of our favorite Marland works, his portrayal of Bill O’Brien, in our article on O’Brien published on our Hall of Wingnuttia Fame page.

Please check out Mike’s homepage, linked in the first paragraph and like his new Facebook page as well and give our progressive brother some love!  Mike is a New Hampshire treasure, let’s make sure we keep him around!

NH Rebellion Activist Takes to the Road for Women – 3,000 Miles!

Beth Grunewald

Beth with her trusty steed.

Former New Hampshire Occupier and New Hampshire Rebellion activist Beth Grunewald as personally stepped up — or should we say — pedaled up her activist game by deciding to bike from Calais, Maine to Keywest Florida! By a lucky chance, she connected with me on Facebook last week and when she told me she was going to be leaving to Maine to start her journey I asked if I could catch her for a quick interview.  We met in West Lebanon at Gusano’s Restaurant last Saturday afternoon and chatted for about a couple hours.  Dressed in bright colored biking tights with cut-off jeans and a tank top and standing at 6′ plus, the only thing that outdid Beth’s bright and strong physical appearance was her huge welcoming and enthusiastic smile.  We sat down and proceeded to get to business getting caught up and then discussing her new adventure.

Beth says that she came up with the idea after approaching her thirtieth birthday this year.  After working in as a counselor at the Outdoor Wilderness School of Connecticut, Beth had an epiphany that many of us have when we reach thirty, “I’m going to be thirty in November and decided on the cusp of that to do this.  Thinking about what it means to be thirty and be a woman; so many people said to me, ‘Well now your life is over.’  I was amazed and began thinking, “Is my life over? Why are people even saying that to me?” Beth spanned her arms wide and exclaimed, “I have seventy years to live! I’m not even beginning to think about dying now!”

She also hopes that by studying the issues related to women while talking to people on her ride that she could be considered for a position as delegate to the 5th World Conference on Women.”The purpose – actually dual purpose is to advocate for the 5th World Conference and to interview folks about concepts of gender and how those archetypes affect women.”  She also talked about how she wants to expand on thoughts about human relationships and community.

“I got out of work and came home to Merrimack, I went to the anniversary of a friend who had passed away the year before and I started thinking about connection in my community.  I’ve had so such a go-go life lately and it got me thinking about how we get so caught in all these timeline engagements we forget about the people around us.  I began to think about how human connections are so important but our society, the things are now, doesn’t allow people to make enough time for that.”


Then we got into details about the trip, “Its roughly about 3,000 miles and I’m looking to do about fifty miles a day.  After doing research with maps and on the East Coast Greenway website.  Beth spans out her hands on the table pulling an imaginary string, “I used the map online and then transferred that to a paper map and with string I made an estimate of my miles. Its somewhere around 3,000.” I asked Beth how long it would take, “My planning is still a work in progress and since I’m planning to meet people on the way, who knows? I’m still working on where I’m staying when I’m in urban areas, that might be problematic but I’m still working on it.  I’m also going to use 2-1-1 to see how well that works and I plan to report back on that.”

Beth has done many long distance trips, touring from southern New Hampshire in the summer of 2012 and ending up as far as Bangor, Maine.  In November of 2012 she also toured parts of the Midwest from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Fort Wayne, Indiana  and her last smaller tour was in the fall of 2013 when she rode from Concord, New Hampshire to Portland, Maine.  She uses a standard hybrid bicycle with 700c wheels, narrow hybrid tires and the uncommon “mustache” handlebars which she says offer her many relaxing positions as she plows through the miles.

We will hopefully be able to follow up with Beth’s trip as she goes along and please don’t forget to visit her Go Fund Me site to help her out with expenses!


Since we originally did this article on August 31, we have been in touch with Beth since we hadn’t heard confirmation that she’d left.  She has indeed left and has gone as far as Connecticut.  We talked to her on the phone briefly, she was talking as she was riding, we asked her how her trip is going,

“I’ve had some difficulty with getting online and adjusting to life on the road an dlearning to g slow, developing a routine of checking with my body and myself.” She then laughs, “I almost forgot to eat for like six hours once!” she also says, “Taking time out was one of the reasons I wanted to do this — reflecting on our rushed lifestyle, so here I am having to remember that.”

When I asked her if she’s had any logistical difficulties on the road she answered, “Getting used to the differences with the two maps I’m suing — the road maps and the online maps and some route difficulties and of course staying in contact.”  She says she stayed at a campground in Machias, Maine that was a little creepy, “I saw someone just come out of the woods from nowhere that night.”  She also relates that she stayed on the property of a church and called their number to let them know.  “I’m hoping to haev my trail worked out so I can focus at night on my ideas on policy.” [for the 5th World Conference she hopes to be a delegate for].

We’ll keep in touch with Beth and post updates here, she said she hopes to have her own blog up and running soon which we will link here.

The Truth about Colin Van Ostern

Elizabeth Ropp (satire)

Or Why A Van Ostern Governorship means 80’s movie night at the State House.

The New Hampshire Union Leader alleges that the Democratic nominee for Governor, Colin Van Ostern, had a mysterious past before he moved to the Granite State.  One UL investigative reporter wrote that Van Ostern didn’t go by the name “Colin Van Ostern” until moving to New Hampshire.

The Union Leader is on to something but falls short of getting at the real story.  Their reporters have failed to figure out what this precocious Gen-Xer figured out within seconds of interrogation at the Jefferson Jackson dinner last fall: Colin’s real name is Colin James Spader Van Ostern.

Halfway into a glass of wine on an empty stomach, I approached the candidate.

“Excuse me, I just wanted to say that you and Molly Ringwald were awesome in Pretty in Pink.  It’s like, my favorite movie.”

 Pretending disbelief, Van Ostern sputtered, “Oh. Um….uh…That was creepy.”

Let’s put the facts together, and see that the truth is unavoidable.

Why else would Molly Ringwald stump for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, if not for her Brat Pack filmstar buddy calling in for back up.

“Hey Molls, it’s me James…I mean Colin..Anyway, it’s me.  You’ve totally gotta get up here.   People are seriously grossed out by Hillary Clinton’s nomination.  We totally need you.”

 “But James, I mean Colin, you know I voted for Bernie.  Corporate oligarchy is grody to the MAX.”

 “But, Molls, if Donald Trump gets elected you’ll have to gag me with a spoon!”

Who knows why the legendary actor from movies like Less than Zero and Mannequin left Hollywood to make yogurt and to pursue poltics in New Hampshire.  By the way, did you know he makes yogurt?  And who knows why he changed his name.  Is he worried we will liken him to former California Governor, Arnold Schwartzenger?

At any rate, Spader-Van Ostern won the primary outright.  Centrist Democrats and Berniecrats alike turned out to support him enmasse.  He’s got some popular policy ideas. He proposes all day kindergarten, which benefits working families.  He champions high speed rail, which will bring in jobs, boost the economy, and reduce fossil fuel emmissions. On the Executive Council, he restored funding to Planned Parenthood and pushed to expand Medicaid. We DO need Medicare for All, but that is another story.

Hopefully the primary race will push Spader-Van Ostern to embrace the great ideas proposed by his opponents.  Steve Marchand proposed paid family leave, because that is a good family value. He also championed marijuana legalization. This is important because when every other candidate, including Spader-Van Ostern, takes The Tax Pledge,  we have to find a way to bring revenue into our state. Why not pot?  It’s working in Colorado and Oregon.  The only other proposed alternative is casinos, which are predatory businesses that do not produce high quality jobs for any community. Lastly, Marchand stands for complete abolition of the death penalty, unlike Spader-Van Ostern, who says he favors abolishing the death penalty except for the one guy who currently sits on death row in New Hampshire.

I am sure Spader-Van Ostern is also open to Mark Connolly’s excellent ideas if we can remember what they are.

So, Colin or James or James-Colin, if you are reading this, I want to congratulate you on winning the Gubernatorial primary. If you win in November, I hope that means 80’s movie nights on the State House lawn. But, I know you are rolling your eyes and thinking “Ugh! Not her again.  That girl was, is, and will always be NADA.*”

And you are so right.

The girl was, is and will always be nada.

*  NADA is a proven acupuncture practice to help people who struggle with alcohol and opioid addiction.  The NADA protocol consists of 5 acupuncture needles placed in specific points in the ear while patients rest.  It can also be used to help people who suffer from PTSD, anxiety, ADHD, or simply weight loss.  It was developed in 1974 as part of The People’s Drug Treatment Program as part of the Licoln Detox Center in The South Bronx.


Veteran and State Employee Runs for State House Office, Nashua Ward 2

SEIU Local 1984 of New Hampshire announced on September 8th the candidacy of one of their own, Gloria Timmons, for State Representative, Nashua Ward 2.

We re-post the write-up about her history from the SEIU website:
We’re proud of the many SEA/SEIU Local 1984 member candidates for state office this fall. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been featuring some who are facing challengers in the Sept. 13 statewide primary.


Gloria Timmons

Gloria Timmons, a member of Chapter 1, spent nearly two decades of her second career working for New Hampshire Employment Security (NHES). That came after her first career, serving 22 years in the U.S. Army. She’s looking to continue her long career of public service as a state representative in Nashua’s Ward 2.

During her state service, Timmons was active with SEA/SEIU Local 1984. In addition to serving as a steward for 17 years, she was a councilor and a member of numerous committees. She said she brought a lot of her military experience with her into state service, and she ultimately retired as assistant director of NHES.

“My military service made me stronger and disciplined,” she said. “A lot of people would probably say I was too military, but I just felt that when you have a job, you do that job. I come from the school that says you do what you need to in order to get the job done.”

Timmons said in her experience, less division between management and workers leads to better outcomes, especially when both sides are truly listening to each other.

“There were situations where, if you’d ask the workers, things might have come out a bit better because you would have been getting the perspective of the boots on the ground,” she said.

Unsurprisingly, veterans affairs is a major issue for Timmons in her campaign. The Cold War and Desert Storm veteran pointed out that former military members like her have to travel all over New England for specialty care, and there aren’t enough resources for returning veterans.

“I don’t believe we’re taking care of the vets coming back from Afghanistan, and we should never have homeless veterans,” she said.

In addition to her state and military service, Timmons has been involved in many community groups. Still, she said she’s running for office because she’s tired of sitting on the sidelines, “watching the parade pass by.”

“I wanted to help people, do more for the community, to get involved,” Timmons said.

We hope that voters in Nashua’s Ward 2 will support Timmons in the state primary on Tuesday. You can find the entire list of SEA-endorsed candidates here.

Conversation with Linda Harriot-Gathright, State Representative Candidate, Nashua


Congratulations Linda!  Now on with the race!

Thursday, September 8th I met with Linda Harriot-Gathright in her home in Nashua.  She is running for State Rep in Nashua’s Ward 9 (Hillsborough District 36).  Linda is being challenged in this primary by a Republican, Dave Robertson who has switched his party affiliation this race.  Linda notes further down that if he had not jumped into the race, she would not have had a primary challenger.Image result for Linda harriott-gathright, new hampshire

How long have you been in New Hampshire?

“I came here in 1979, thirty-seven years ago.”

What has your career been?

“I’m retired from Verizon, after thirty-four and a half years.  When I left there I was a manager for DSL Services, support organization, process and procedures for trouble-shooting.  I started at as a teller in PA, I started as a teller with the Ma Bell – AT&T, way back then in the 70’s.   I pretty much did it all, payroll, business office, you name it.”

What brought you to New Hampshire?

“My husband, he was working in PA and he took a job with Ralph Lauren clothing, Polo, they were out of Lawrence, Mass and I worked for Bell of PA so it was easy for me to transfer to a New England town. So that’s what we did and here we are.  It was just supposed to be two years, I’d go back to school and we’d move to South Carolina and raise the children, so here we are thirty-seven years later.”

So what brought you into politics?

“Good question, I would say I worked with an organization and chaired it for a while, Southern New Hampshire Outreach for Black Unity and we began to do things in the school system because people complaining about what was happening to children in the school.  So we began to deal with the police department here in Nashua and in the school system in Nashua.  The organization still exists today.  I’m just not a chair, but I’m still part of the organization.

“So I took a lot of time off, like my vacation time, to be a part of the community in order to represent African-Americans at the table for when the city was having meetings and everyone that works during the day for the city, I would take vacation time and go to those meetings.  So I sit back and look back at those years and I wonder, ‘How did you do that, how were you able to do that?’ But I do remember a time when I didn’t have that much vacation and the kids would be upset because my vacation time was gone and they wanted to do vacation.

“So anyway, through the years I worked very closely with that organization and other organizations in the city to make any changes necessary and support other organizations and what they were trying to do, particularly with others that were coming to the state, of color, basically.  I still never considered that politics to be honest with you, I just figured that was my responsibility I mean basically.

“In 2005 I had a ruptured brain aneurysm and stayed in intensive care for 21 days in Boston.  I was able to walk out of that and still go back to work six months later.  By the time they split me open, clipped it, put my skull back together and all that stuff, I realized how fortunate I was and how blessed I was to truly be alive and let alone could still walk and talk and all those good things and I think my faith really kicked in at that time because the whole situation at that time, especially considering how it all happened – that I got there in a snowstorm, then the doctor was the chair of the Aneurysm Society of Massachusetts.

“So it was kind of like the moment my head hurt, to that surgery to me coming back to New Hampshire a month later,  I knew there was something else that I was missing, there was more to the story.  I actually used to pray quite a bit and I used to say, ‘I know there’s something that you want me to do, I have no clue but I know you didn’t leave me here for nothing, there’s something.’ And ironically the chair of the Democratic Party here was resigning and I’d been in Nashua for years and years and nobody asked me to attend a Democrat meeting or anything.

“I got a call from Harvey Keye and he said, ‘Linda I need help,’ and said for what?  ‘I need your help as a secretary,’ and I said, ‘for what Harvey?’ and he said ‘Well they voted me in as chair of the Nashua Dems but I’m going to surprise them because they think that I can’t do this and all the other people that were secretary and vice chair all got up and resigned at that point and I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ So I attended a meeting with him and it was me, him and whoever was left and that was supposed to be the Nashua Dems and that’s how I got involved.

“Then before I knew it there was meetings and there was twenty-five people coming and thirty people coming … he really did a superb job of building the group here, including people.  And he said to me, ‘I’ve been attending these meetings for years and I’m the only one that looks like me,’ you know so that’s how I really got involved, through Harvey.  Then sitting at the table, being the secretary and taking the notes and all that good stuff then meeting Betty Lasky and others at the time.  Deb Pignatelli, I’ve known her for years.  We have the Martin Luther King breakfast we give every year and she’s always attended for her son.

“So one day we were sitting and she said, ‘You need to run for state rep.’ and I said [laughing] ‘Why would I do that?’ You know, I said with what I’m doing and she said ‘Linda we really need you at the table up in Concord.’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t think so.’ I didn’t really see myself being that involved in politics and I really felt that way.

“So anyway they convinced me and that that was the right thing to do and once I got there I would understand why I needed to be there and they were so right.  I ran in 2010, I didn’t get in but I would have been next in line had I got in.  That was the Republican sweep at the time and only 3 Democrats [in Nashua] kept their seats that year.  So in 2012 I ran and got in.  In 2014 I ran in my Ward.  In my Ward there’s three seats I was the only one that lost, the other two won. You might have seen the blue signs coming in with Ohm, that’s who I lost to, a Republican.

“However I was really upset with everyone because basically this thing called the ‘bullet’ – it means you run together because there was three of us.  That shows up in the poll when you have three people running and other people will get say, I think I had 130 votes and then the next Democrat had 230 and the other had 250.  That says there was a disconnect there with us.  When I went around I looked for out for everybody, you know I said, ‘Vote for all three of us.’

“We talked about that and others had that happen.  So this time I around, I was asked to run and I had already made up my mind that I would definitely run again because I believe I think it’s very important and I should be there to help sway Concord.  So I ended up with a primary this time which is disgusting because the Republican ran as a Democrat this time, that’s why I have a primary.  Dave Robertson was a Republican in 2010 and 2014 and this time around he’s listed as a Democrat and that’s why we ended up with a primary. I ran against him when I won in 2012.”

Do you think he’s a Free Stater?

“I don’t know, I just really don’t know for sure.”

Are you familiar with the Free Staters?

“Yeah, there were two.  I had served on the criminal justice committee and believe it or not the two to my right were Free Staters and it was horrible.  I reported one of them several times because he brandished his weapon at me, [my shocked expression].  Oh yeah, oh yeah. When I didn’t believe the way they believed, it’s a whole nuther ballgame.  But they’re no longer there because one was arrested.”

You mean Tasker?

 “Yeah, that’s right, it was Tasker yeah.  Another we had a case with another one of his weapons.”

How did he brandish a gun at you?

“We were doing the marijuana issue and I did not want marijuana to become legal, I wanted marijuana to become legal as far as possession.”


“Decriminalized, right, that way.  But he was different, so because I didn’t believe the way he believed and I was the one doing the speech on the floor, he came over to me in our little area there, we have like a little office there.  And that afternoon I was supposed to present on the floor and he says, ‘Uh, we’re going to just tear you up up there and on and on.’ And meanwhile I’m looking at him like he’s crazy and you’re not supposed to show your weapon at all. “You are supposed to have it covered at all times alright and so I said ‘you know what, I said excuse me, ‘and he said, ‘you watch, you watch, you’re gonna get it. ‘

“So he’s threatening how he’s going to act toward me when I’m testifying on the floor and then the second time around, the other Free Stater was off, because he sat two seats from seats from – I can’t think of his name right now.  But they were very good friends, he was tall and into real estate.

“So he was off that day, so we never change seats – you always sit in your seat.  I turned around this way and he was almost in my space and he had taken off his jacket and when I looked, when I turned around all I could see was him and his gun, alright and I’m like, ‘Excuse me,’ I said, you’re supposed to have a jacket on and ‘Why are you so close to me?’ you know because he was in my space and so our chairperson said, ‘Tasker get out! Get your jacket on right now!’ and she apologized to me for his actions.  But he was always doing something and he always smelled like marijuana so when they were talking about it in the newspaper that one of the state reps said he smelled like marijuana, he always did, that was well known.  You know that was his business, but I didn’t like the way he acted.”

While you were in state house the last session you were in? What was one thing you were proud of accomplishing?

“I like when we finally got the bill for the Affordable Care Act, I think that was a major step forward for New Hampshire, what I really wanted to get done but it didn’t happen on my watch either was having a minimum wage.”

Let’s go into social issues a little, especially issues that many progressives and Democrats have thought were settled issues.  Do you support Planned Parenthood and a woman’s right to choose?

“I definitely support Planned Parenthood definitely and as for choice; I feel that’s a choice for any woman, that’s a personal choice.”

Do support sex education in the schools?

“I think it should be in the schools, not to take it away from the parents at some point there are things that kids need to know whether they are getting it from their parents or not because we live in a world where everyone is so knowledgeable.  My grandkids are very good on the computer.  If I put my Ipad down my granddaughter will pick it up and she can get on the internet and find anything she wants; that’s not the way kids are supposed to learn.  I believe that between the schools and the parents that we should educate our children.”

Gay Rights Marriage – Equality in marriage?

“I would defend it – I think again that’s a choice I should not make for someone else.”

Support keeping Medicaid expansion in place?

“Absolutely there.”

Would you support a national or state healthcare system?

“Yes, I think I would as long as it would cover everyone, without a doubt.”

School funding?

“I support funding education and I think teachers should have a decent pay.  I’m a substitute teacher now and I do K-12 in Nashua and I see a lot and now a days children are different. I don’t know that they’re any wiser than we were I think they are more vocal than my generation would have been, which forces teachers to be more tolerant because this is a new age of young people.”

Racism/Diversity – How do you see yourself having an impact on that as a state rep?

“Firstly, with ESL or any of that, you have to have the workforce and that’s where I think Nashua, Manchester, Portsmouth –there is a shortage of available qualified ESL teachers.  What happens in the classroom is that you might have another student interpreting for the student – to the teacher, for the teacher.  That I find to be sad personally that a teacher would have to rely on another student to teach that child.  I believe it has to do with the law that a child has to be in school but right now we’re not really set up and I’m not sure what it’s going to take except that we need qualified teachers and in order to get qualified teachers, you have to pay them and we have to have the benefits that go with them because people aren’t just going to come for nothing.  I’m sure there are teachers coming out of colleges all across the United States and we need to figure out some sort of way to get them over here in some of our towns to work with our children.

“Another reality, there’s a lot of immigrants, those that come here from other countries; they come here with degrees as well, some of them are teachers, some of them are doctors and whatever it might be, but I think it behooves us, particularly with teachers – and I don’t know how it would work, but we might even use some of them in these situations.  You might even be able to seek volunteers to come into the schools to resolve those situations.

“I would be open to pretty much anything that people want to talk about you know, making life easier for the school system and for the students.  So anything that goes on up there I would be all game for it.”

Would you be interested in looking to rail development?

“Absolutely, I always wish we had rail.  Before I retired my office was at 185 Franklin in Boston, I hated it and I hated that traveling and most of the years I worked in Massachusetts and I was one of those who had to drive and it was awful.  I remember at one point I used to drive to Lowell and get on the train, but then that makes for a long day – to drive down, get on the train, then ride back and drive home.  It [rail] should have happened a long time ago.  I don’t understand why we don’t have it.”

You had talked about be willing to look at bringing back the minimum wage in the state?


Would you consider as well removing the tipped wage?

“That is ridiculous and I remember hearing that on the floor and I was really surprised.  When I leave a tip I leave them cash because that way they get cash straight out.”

Right to Work – where do you stand on that?

“Oh yeah Right to Work for less” I was a steward, Local 2320 IBEW and chief steward I used go to down for arbitration in Boston.  Years ago back in the 80’s.  Kit Bradburry, Marty Fitzpatrick were the union presidents back then.  No brainer, I’d vote against it.  Even when I was a manager and the workers were on strike I’d bring the pizza and the water to the strikers.

“Then I remember when I was on strike, oh geez.  That was awful, my husband and I weren’t together and I had two kids in private school.  I sold a lot of stock back then.  I did take a part-time job in Lechmere at customer service.  That was a long strike, I think we were out for like four or five months.”

What was it over?

“Benefits, it was about keeping the insurance, the company paid all your insurance, we didn’t have to pay for insurance back and then.  Also, we had a pension that the company was trying to change and that was the first time when the company was trying to make all that change and that’s why we were out so long.  I remember that some people really suffered.  Some people lost their homes, I was way behind but I didn’t lose my home. But we won that fight we kept the pension and all that.

“When I left to go into management I lost my pension, but I’ve had friends that were non-management and they didn’t lose their pension. I’ve always said, ‘You stay out there because you don’t want to lose your pension and you don’t want to have to pay part of your insurance because, once I went into management I lost the pension and had to pay part of my insurance. So there was really no incentive to go into management.

“In the communications industry it was difficult to get fired, I mean you really had to do something I mean like steal from the company or something.  But even if you were an alcoholic or on drugs you had the opportunity to go to medical in Boston and get into some type of program.  The union fought for all that.  You know I always felt that in telecommunications that the union was very strong.”

You take a minute and think that kind of stability helps people to buy home, helps neighborhoods to become more stable.

“It really is and I say that because of the union, I really believe if the communication companies did not have a union people would not be as well off as they are today or be able to take care of their families and the pay scale was always great in terms that, as a new employee in the communications world, say every six months you’d get a bump in pay, so you had something to look forward to and plan on.”

Today people are scared of getting fired when they are in non-union companies and that’s the way the companies want it.

“Absolutely, absolutely and I tell young people today, get into the communications industry, start where you need to start whether its repair or where ever it is, get in there, you have a better opportunity for a stable life and a prosperous life.  Or just get into something union.”

Bringing jobs to New Hampshire?  What else do you think would help out? What could you do as a state legislator?

“I know that’s there’s quite a few taxes that companies pay.”

Which leads us into revenue.  For some people it’s hard to settle here because the cost of property ownership is so high.  Do you think that our tax structure hurts us or helps us?  Because we have all these great ideas as progressives, but how do we pay for it?

“I remember something that was sent to me.  It talks about across the country on the average we’re low on non-property tax and business taxes, but high on property tax.  However when you add it all together, we’re still running around the same as everyone is across the country, no lower or higher. Now should we lower our property taxes or increase business taxes? I don’t really know the answer to that.  I pay my taxes now on my property once a year and I’ll tell you right now every year it gets a little harder to pay that tax.”

Do see yourself as progressive politically?

“What is considered progressive? When I look at what I believe in what might be progressive, I believe in fair wages, I believe in women’s rights, I believe in a great educational system.  I think I believe in the same things as progressive values.”

You were saying that police were one of your core issues?

“Yes, always because there’s always been complaints, particularly with African Americans here.  More recently with our new chief of police Andy Lavoie, he sat down with the community, we have an organization called Nashua Community Conversation on Race and Justice so back in May in 2015 we had literally had a community conversation, it was advertised in the newspaper and some of the radio stations and approximately 200 people came out and that was because of all the things that were happening throughout the United States and we were afraid something was going to explode here.

“I had a couple of grandsons that every time they turned around they were getting stopped, it was just real crazy.  So when this new chief came on board we invited him to the Martin Luther King breakfast that year, 2015 in January and he accepted and he brought his deputy chief and he paid to get in – it wasn’t a freebie and it was very moving for him.  After that I said to him, we need to have a conversation on race and justice here.

“So in May, we started what was known as the Nashua Community Conversation on Race and Justice, NCCRJ and Sylvia’s [Sylvia Gale, state rep candidate] part of this group as well and she’s a part of the team. Approximately twenty people are part of the team, there’s police representation, there’s non-profit representation, representation from the mayor’s office, service organizations … anyway, long story short, 200 people came out, the mayor spoke, the Chief of Police spoke and I spoke representing the community.

“In my speech I spoke about twenty situations where different people of color, Indian, African-American, Hispanic, immigrants, about situations of their stops with police.  Just a short sentence, gave the identity of the person just by first name and told what transpired and what happened with the police department.  At that time they were really upset about it and that set the stage for the tables – we had approximately 15 tables and one police officer at each table and this was all about the community getting to know them and the police getting to know the community and we had African-American males there, at least ten.  Of course given where we live it was predominantly Caucasian but that was ok because we had representation from everybody there, even from the faith based community.

“So that was all beginning and from that we have now started ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ It came out of the mayor’s office, he needed an organizational committee to get that started.  So he came to the NCCJ and we agreed so six of us served on that MBK committee, Sylvia, myself and some others and we’re planning an event in November where we hope to have some of the NBA players and a some sports figures, African-American, Hispanic and meet some of the high school and college and African-American males and Spanish males here.  So we’ve already connected with the high schools.  We have three high schools on board, Bishop Guertin, Nashua North and South ten students per school and the college, Daniel Webster, Rivier, SNHU and the Community College.

“What we hope to get out of this is that more African-American males will step up and be mentors.  Because that’s lacking here.  But they’re here, we need to get them a little more involved.  Because when you think about it we’re in the system at a higher rate, so even if they’re getting someone and even if they want an African-American and we believe that all children should have mentors, it doesn’t matter what their color is.  You get a certain child that you know will need a little more and that might be something to come from an African-American male whatever the reason might be.

“We had a major non-profit leader that had a Spanish kid that he mentored and he’s reached out to us; he felt that he was missing something with this kid and he said ‘I’d really like to see if he can meet an African-American male that might match with this kid, ‘ because he said, ‘We’re missing it.’ Just the fact that was he was able to feel that there was a disconnect you know, that’s progress.

“So we’re trying in Nashua and I do find that the police department is very open.  I can say that in Nashua if they stop someone of color then they want everyone out the car and on the curb and that’s not right and by law they are not supposed to do that but that’s what they’ve been doing.  I have told them that they are getting better but I have heard that they have asked for visas and the rest from everyone in the car, I’m like ‘Are you kidding me? That’s illegal.’  Now they’ve been called on the carpet about that and so things are beginning to change here.  I’ve heard comments from other people saying the same thing.”

So in closing, why should people vote for you?

“I believe that I care, I care about New Hampshire.  I do love New Hampshire and I’ve been here most of my life and New Hampshire home to me, I’m 67, this home for me and my children and grandchildren and I want to make sure we prosper as a state. If we do it educationally, we’ll be fine economically.  We have to make we have the best education for children and equal access to all of it. Those are my goals and that’s why you should vote for me.”

Profile: Linda Harriot-Gathright, Nashua City Dems

Ballotpedia – Linda Harriot-Gathright

Meet Kris Roberts, State Senate Candidate, District 10


Photo from the Japan Times

On Wednesday, September 8th I sat down in the Keene Library Annex and talked to State Senate Candidate Kris Roberts.  Roberts is running for the District 10 Senate seat which covers the southwestern part of the state including,  Alstead, Chesterfield, Gilsum, Harrisville, Hinsdale, Keene, Marlborough, Nelson, Roxbury, Sullivan, Surry, Swanzey, Walpole, Westmoreland, and Winchester.

Roberts is currently serving as a Keene school board member and as a representative in the State House for Cheshire, District 16.  He has served as a state representative since 2004.  Roberts was also the city councilor at large, was chair of the Keene Board of Education and also sits on the school board, a position he’s held for 13 years.

Bio from Ballotpedia: “Roberts earned a B.A. in Liberal Arts and History, and a B.A. in Social Science from Keene State College. Roberts’ education also includes attending the United States Army Engineer School; certification in global logistics from the State University of California-Long Beach; logistics from United States Marine Advance Logistics and executive development from United States Army Associate Executive Development. Roberts served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Marine Corps Reserves from 1977 to 2002.”

Also its noteworthy to state, since for the sake of time we didn’t get into his personal history, but that Roberts stated in an interview with Rights and Democracy, that he grew up in a family of 10.  Raised by a single mother in Massachusetts, Roberts overcame a hard-scrabble childhood and he said, “by luck and good genes” he was able to overcome some serious obstacles put before him early in his life.

Roberts is not the choice of the New Hampshire Democratic party since they have brought out an opponent to run against him in the primary.  Roberts is aware that his sometimes iconoclastic views have not set well with the Democratic establishment in the state, particularly his support of charter schools which separates him from most of the Democratic establishment.  For the sake of time, we did not get into the charter school issue and Roberts did not bring it up on his own.

So did you grow up in New England?

“I grew up in Massachusetts and Rhode Island mostly Fall River Massachusetts.  I came to Massachusetts in 1972 to go to college here, Keene State and then I graduated in ‘77 and went into the Marine Corps.  As everybody knows the Marine Corps is pretty tough on the body.  I officially retired from the Marine Corps in 2002.  My body was pretty well beat up so I ended up with 80% service connected disability.  So I pretty stuck, couldn’t do my science and engineering that I was well trained for so I figured what else could I do, so that’s when I went into public service.”

So you were trained as an engineer?

“Yes, engineer and finance.  I had been down in Panama for six months building schools and roads and wells and I had been all over all kinds of places doing that kinds of stuff, but with the traumatic brain injury that ended and some days were good and some days were bad and when you are in engineering and finance you can’t afford bad days.”

What was the cause of the injury?

“It was a combination of, when I was in the Marine Corps, I had seven confirmed concussions and we didn’t think much of it in the 70’s and 80’s.  Being an engineer we were using explosives all the time and we’d say  ‘Wow that really rang your bell.’ The concussive effects, its an accumulation of having those injuries from the constant exposure to explosives.  So, I didn’t I want to stay home and feel sorry myself, but I had a lot of training and education that came out to fit me to the public sector.”

What was first your first foray into the public sector?

“The first time I ran was before the school board and I was the number one vote getter which was really surprising because the only reason I put my name in was because I always sick and tired of three people for the same three slots and because like in a small town they would hand pick the people for the city council, the school board, the state house.”

“Then I went and ran for the state house in 2004. I remember ticking off the county party chairman when he asked me, ‘Who did you ask to run?’ and I said I didn’t ask anybody to run I just went down and signed up.  I’m thinking wait a minute, I spent all this time in the military saving your ass and now I have to ask for permission to run for office?”

“And so going through and then the last two times I was the number one vote getter and then in 2007 I ran for the city council and I was the last person to make it, but the last two elections I was the number one vote getter.  The parties to be were not really happy with me.”


“Because I’m not part of the good old boy system.  In a lot of ways it was kind like I was a loose cannon, I wouldn’t vote the party line, I would vote the issue.”

We’re going to have some questions about the issues, especially issues that have come up in the state house repeatedly.

“Yeah, there have been some weird issues.”

 Let’s jump right into social issues since that’s what everyone loves to talk about.  Firstly, where do you stand on women’s right to choose?

“I personally don’t favor abortion but like I told my daughters if got pregnant and they choose to have an abortion, I support them I support the unlimited right to choose for the first six months.  I have a problem with partial birth abortion and I would like to see the adoption laws changed – well if its in a case of the woman’s health, up to the delivery date, the woman’s health is the primary concern.”

Actually that’s the time case when partial birth abortion is used.  The state house Republicans have been trying to defund Planned Parenthood which will cause low income women to not have access to affordable birth control and other services.

“That is a stupid plan and one of the reasons is they are using a false.  Planned Parenthood cannot use money to fund abortions because of the Hyde Amendment, plain and simple.  So they’re trying to say Planned Parenthood is an abortion clinic, no, when you look at the whole works, for low income women that is, the only place they can get woman’s healthcare is Planned Parenthood.”

“A lot of women don’t want to have babies, you have these unplanned babies — but if you have cheap or accessible birth control that does away with a lot of unplanned babies whether you have three year, five year there’s now even a ten year uterine device that protects women.   Because unplanned babies reduce a woman’s opportunity for education  and self sufficiency and unplanned babies cost the state more money.  So for me it’s [the controversy] just political.”

“I know Republicans who do support Planned Parenthood because they know someone who has to use it because they may be low income and they use it for birth control.  And it’s just like some Republicans will say ‘No abortion” but they have no problem spending to send their daughter is she has a great future or their son just knocked somebody up so they say, ‘Oh yeah, let’s just go down to Massachusetts,’ so its hypocrisy plain and simple.”

“Jesse Ventura the former governor, the wrestler, he says, ‘These guys aren’t pro-life, these guys are pro-birth, once the baby’s born they don’t want to supply any social services for the baby,’ If you’re pro-life you’re going to provide services all the way up so the kid will have an opportunity to have a productive life.  Again, that’s the hypocrisy of it all.”

Gay Rights – We know that the state legislature has passed right to marry and we know that Republicans want to remove that, would you protect that right?

“Yes, if we go back to HB436, the Marriage Equality bill, Jim Splain if you remember, I went to the floor three times to get it to passed, because the game was the governor didn’t want it to pass the first time  and it failed and we twisted a couple of people’s arms to get it to pass and then it went to the Senate and another state representative and I had put in an amendment  that would say two times of marriages and it would be official and it was blown out of the water, but when the Republicans put it back on thinking it would die in conference  and it came back and we fought that again and the governor went and said well if you don’t pass this bill I’m not gonna sign and it went to the floor and got that one to pass and then the third one was HB73 I think it was and the governor said this bill has to pass or I’m not going to sign this so we were able to get all three bills passed and then about two hours later the governor signed all over them.”

“I didn’t vote for gay marriage, I voted for marriage equality because I don’t think the government has any business in the marriage business. You know if two people whether the same sex or opposite sex want to get married they should not have to justify to the government their reason for getting married, so right now in New Hampshire we are completely marriage equality, we were the first state to do that and I think we did it perfectly and the other guy I was working with, he was a Republican and the Republicans went after him big time and got him voted out of office.  On marriage equality, one of the things I used was what old Chief Justice John Jay said “marriage is a contract” and you can’t discriminate against those who can enter a contract, so that way we were able to get it passed.”

On expanding Medicaid, it has already passed but the Republicans keep wanting to take it back, would you defend it?

“The first would be to take the “every two year” out.  It is ridiculous.  If you go to a doctor for cancer, how do you know he’s going to pick you up [as a patient] if he thinks you might not have medical coverage in two years?   You know maybe some doctors would but basically the health profession is a business, they’re there to make a profit.  I’d like to bring it up to 150% of poverty and bring it up to 200% of poverty.  I think 200% would be about the highest New Hampshire would go, some states are at a higher level, but I think even 200% of poverty in not very much money.”

What about a state or national broad healthcare program, that is healthcare for all?

“We need one and we need one bad.  Like I told you before I had a serious stroke in 2014, I couldn’t walk, couldn’t speak and couldn’t do anything but I had great health insurance and basically I spent 165 days in the hospital and in a nursing home and I had to pay less than $1,000 and I over 500 sessions of therapy, so now I walk and now I talk and I do a lot of things, there’s things I can’t do, but I’ve accepted that.”

“When was in the nursing home, or even in rehab they evaluate whether they think you are going to come out of the rehab, but I could not see anybody in rehab that did not have insurance – and that was the acute rehab.  The bill for the forty days I think was what $143,000 and I paid $440.  I looked at the room and said I could have gone to Club Med and it might have been cheaper.”

“Then I went to the nursing home for four months and that’s when I really found out there were people that were leaving on the twentieth day and asked how come they’re leaving and they said well Medicare only pays twenty days and you look at them and say boy in another month these people could return to a productive state and others were leaving at 100 hundreds because they had Medicaid Advantage or whatever and so they paid a certain amount more.  But basically I’m looking, I stayed past the hundredth day and I was approved for 180 days right up front.”

“Also with single payer national healthcare, we have to have some kind of long-term disability or short-term disability fund, because I was retired and I got my check every month and I didn’t have to worry about the mortgage or any of that and I’ve talked to people who had to go back.  So now I can see how a serious heart attack or a stroke can force people go into bankruptcy.  You got that choice, ‘Do you get better or do you get bankrupt?’

“It’s quite a different learning experience when you are inside experiencing this stuff.  Also  I’ve seen people game the system, put their money in trust and got on Medicaid or Medicare and have the taxpayers paying all their high bills while they get to get all kinds of care and they are often the people that could have afforded Medicaid Advantage or long term healthcare.”

One of the things you didn’t mention in your history today but did mention in your interview with Rights and Democracy was that you grew up in a family headed by a single mother.


 Do you support philosophically the concept of a strong social safety net?

“Yes, not like Neal Kurk [long serving, fiercely fiscally conservative state Representative from Hillsborough 2] who wants to kill it all.  I’ll give you a personal example, my daughter was 20 years old, she was pregnant and she wasn’t married and we talked with her and about what she wants to do.  If you have the baby we’ll help you take care of it.  She said “I want the baby.”  Ok, you can have the baby but you have to follow my rules and we’ll send you to school to become an LNA and go to Claremont.  She started that when her baby was about six months old and I watch him.  So she went to school and got her LNA and started working at the county nursing home.  Then I says, ok time for you to go to school again, you’re going back to Claremont.  So she got her LPN, then she kept and we kept helping her along and then she got her RN from Vermont Tech and then her got her BS in from Phoenix and now she’s the head of infection control at the nursing home.  But I was her safety net.”

“Childcare was $600 a month, how can a woman work fulltime, pay childcare and then try get to school.  You have to have a certain amount of time to recover and bond with the kids.  Even if you got six months old, because six months is important because there’s a big drop in childcare costs at six months or older and you have to do that.  And the other part that may be controversial is I think that we need to hold men accountable.  New Hampshire has one of the worst systems of child support collection.”

“My brother came up here, he got a girl pregnant, he want to Massachusetts, the child is fourteen years old now and he stays out of trouble with the state of New Hampshire because he pays five dollars a month.  My daughter, I was saying, she got married then she got divorced because he drank and he didn’t like to work.  Well he owed up to thirty thousand dollars, every now and then he would pay a little bit to stay out of court.  Then he applied for social security disability, so woosh, its gone, he’s disabled now and he doesn’t have to pay.”

What would you do to change that system? There seems to be a lot of focus on the mother and not a lot of focus on fathers. 

“It takes two to produce a baby and fathers have a responsibility.  Like I said I met my father a couple of times and every time I met him he would give my mother a couple twenty dollar bills and I remember would always put them in her bra.  But he did not contribute anything financially or emotionally or anything to my growing up and I was lucky and I had the right genes and I had intelligence and I could do things, but five my siblings were addicts and they’ve all been in trouble.  My other brother, he just addict and he got dependent on the Oxycontin and his wife had really good insurance and he could get really good rehab.   If you told me I get someone pregnant I’m gonna lose 20% of all my future earnings.  You know I might say you, is this really worth the risk?”

Do you support sex education in schools?

“Yes, not abstinence.  I remember growing up people said, ‘You teach them sex education they are going to have babies.’

Speaking of addiction, what would propose to do about opioid addiction crisis?

“Keene is pretty close if not the worst in the state.  We have over 2,000 addicts so basically if you walk down the street in Keene, one out of every ten people you see are addicts.  And that 2,000 doesn’t count the people that are abusing or abusing other drugs.   I brought that issue up back in 2004 when we had that at risk assessment and we had something like 11% or 7% I can’t remember kids that were taking heroin and every two years we’d get the report says, ‘Nope, nope the kids are lying.’ ”

Where did you hear that?

“Oh the parents and the school board because it doesn’t look good if you have a high drug use, so they kept pushing against us, we even had a big committee to look into it and how we deal with it and it still didn’t go until we had a 25 year old teacher die of an overdose and she was on the front page. And all of a sudden it was like ‘Keene has a problem.’   It was one of those ‘Those people that are addicts.’ and once it came out that the teacher was an addict and people knew she was an addict and even kids were telling their parents but they were looking the other way.  They said no way, a 25 year old school teacher, no way.  Then after she died it came out that doctors were addicts and lawyers were addicts and they started coming out.”

NH has always ranked really high along national demographics and my personal experience with people who’ve struggled with alcohol or drug addiction is that rehabilitation especially in house services are almost unreachable.  I have heard repeatedly in Manchester from social workers and alcoholics trying to get help, or their friends trying to help them that beds in the only affordable rehabilitation location in Manchester were always full.

Many say New Hampshire isn’t putting enough focus and funding on affordable and available rehabilitation services, would you agree and if so, what do you think should be done?

“NPR had a special a week ago and it said that it takes 7 stints in rehab on average for a person to be can control his or her addiction.  The not politically correct thing is that one notices when you have a problem, you have people who look at this as a way ‘I can make a quick buck’ in some of these places you see advertising on TV.  When you look at them you think , “No it’s a waste of money.’ But people think you can put someone in a three week treatment and then its bang-bang and its done.”

“But no, like I was telling the Keene Sentinel, first when you are in a mud hole and I take you home and I clean you up and then put you back in the mud hole.  What have I accomplished? And so part of it is taking a person – an addict, you have to take them out of the environment that creates the addiction or gives them easy access.  Then the other part is, on drugs you have to have a program where there’s an evaluation and the doctor decides “you have the ability to respond to a twelve-step program…” and you get a sponsor and that’s what you do.  We do not have to find a three or six week bed for someone or maybe someone only needs a short stay and then there’s some people that might need a long stay.”

Do you think there’s a conflict in some of the state politics to resolving issues such as with Bill Shaheen’s connection with pain centers?

“Look, I am in pain all the time and I have the option to use  OxyContin to control my pain.  Sometimes the pain builds up so bad that I can’t sleep at night to I take ten milligrams of oxy and then its that quick once when I wake up in the morning and then I’m good to go. What the VA is doing is helping me with acupuncture.  So instead of taking ten pills a day I maybe take just a few a week and I have weekly acupuncture and that levels the pain for about three days.”

“I’ll be going to yoga classes soon and then they sent me to the mindfulness and they do a tremendous way of controlling the pain without drugs.   I’ve been in other states where there is pain management.  I’ve gone before my stroke to the pain management clinic at the hospital.  There’s a couple of times I’ve had RF’s that burn the nerve a little bit, so again I didn’t have to take pain pills all the time.  So there are ways to do that.  To me anybody that an addict (I’m not a doctor) is in some kind of pain, whether its physical or mental.”

“So you can’t control the addiction until you control the pain.  I’ve got a broken back from a helicopter crash, I’ve had six pain blocks and the two RF’s but I don’t take any pain pills for that.  If I had gone to another doctor I could have easily gotten heavy doses of pain medication to cover and sooner or later I was going to need more and more.  Pain management and doctors that specialize in pain management are critical because they help address a lot of the addiction problems, because I’ve known, especially after the stroke, I’d become a raving violent lunatic and I didn’t realize what pain do to you.”

“Up at the state house the big problem is that you still got a lot of people – mostly Republicans but some Democrats who see addicts as weak people and so they place the blame totally on the individual.  ‘I can drink six beers and I’m not an alcoholic, why is this guy and alcoholic,’ and so they place the blame totally on the individual.  ‘Why should I give service consideration to a weakly?’ Some of those guys are stuck in not just 20th century but 19th century beliefs.”

Maggie Hassan pushed to increase funding for enforcement.  Do you agree with this approach?

“Oh yeah, Granite Hammer.  Granite Hammer is a waste.  The money could be used better in other places.  Like I gave the Keene Sentinel an analogy, the drug dealers send our troops and if we take them out they are replaced with others.  We need to the distributors. Like for example, we have an individual in Keene, you see him all the time begging for money.  The police won’t arrest because he’s on social security.  Well, if I want to some heroin I can go to him and he’ll get it for me, but ok, who’s the guy who’s supplying it to him and to other guys?  You are going to have to go deep under cover into the command structure, so do you arrest that guy?  Do you put that guy in jail for two or three years? What have you have you accomplished? You haven’t accomplished anything and he’s quickly replaced on the street.”

When we talk about that that means having a treatment centered attack on drug addiction and not a punitive attack.

“Yes, if you look at the executive council just signed a deal to bring in more mental health funding.  If I’m the chief in Keene and I’m going to arrest fifty addicts today and they get sentenced to a year in the corrections facility.   Now addition is a mental health and a health condition.  So in the jail I have to provide treatment for these people in jail.  I spend x amount per day but they come out with a record too.  It would be much cheaper to have a drug court.  With that someone is able to stay at home and work but go to treatment for so many days and he doesn’t lose his and if you go to jail for so many days you lose your job.  I’m a systems guy and I would say I’m like Mr. Spock, playing three dimensional chess knowing that if I make a move up here its going to have an effect down here,  you have to look at the other costs. Politically its really great to arrest a lot of people, but your jail costs, disrupting families, welfare costs, but people don’t always look at that because just want to look at their little section.”

You’ve been on school board for awhile.

“13 years.”

So I guess you are familiar with the issues of school funding in NH and the Claremont decision and without getting too complicated, do you support expanding or at least not cutting funding for education?

“We need to expand funding for education and the only way we’re going to expand funding for education is  we have to redefine and adequate education.  I voted against that in budget, I voted against the constitutional amendment because the speaker of the house says, for example says, ‘Here 1.1 million dollars now go and find an adequate education that matches 1.1.’  The court was upset because they found that they violated the spirit of the law and so they basically defined the adequate education as reading and writing and arithmetic and they looked at that and they said ‘Ok, that can be funded for $3400 and none of this extra stuff that you have to do.’ and I voted against it because I wanted a quality education which will get you into most four year colleges, an adequate education does not qualify you to get into really good schools.  Governor Lynch said no donut towns but we’ve got towns that can spend a lot of money and we got other districts over here that can’t spend anything and they just like to do the bare minimum just to keep the state off their butt.”

Veterans – Supporting veterans, you are a veteran, how do you feel about veteran services being a veteran?

“One of the things I’m proud of is that I worked with Senator Joe Kenney and we were able to get the vet center in Keene and the vet center in Brattleboro.  We also have a better transportation system to get vets up to White River Junction, which is a top medical center.  They have quite a few really quality doctors.  Manchester is only aligned with one of those small nursing schools, so they don’t have the ability to do what the other hospitals can do.  What we pushed on was those C-Blocks around the state and they’re really good quality, if you have something serious they will send you down to Boston.”

“New Hampshire, we’re pretty good, the only complaint with some vets is that they have to go to Boston sometimes, well West Roxbury is one of the best hospitals and like I know one vet that had liver cancer, he complained that he had to go to Boston, but there was only 10 people in NH that had liver cancer, what do you expect?   It works really good and they’re accepting more and more veterans coming in.”

What are your views on immigration in New Hampshire and the issue of diversity?

“Well first thing I was the one that see, Mayor Gatsas, he had a law that would ban refugees from coming to Manchester it was published that he said, ‘I get what I want.’ And I was the one who stepped up to get it defeated and I said, ‘Well I guess he didn’t get what he wanted this time.’  I just felt that it was totally discriminatory because when I went and did the research, what he was doing was this; he had really bad schools in Manchester and they were red-ling. He was putting poor students in there and he was blaming the refugees.”

“I did my research and found that the immigrants by and large were out performing others and so his justification for not having refugees was wrong.  They didn’t go on welfare, they were doing their jobs, they were hard working.  As for racism in the senate, its been 233 years and there hasn’t been a single person of color in the state senate. From the federal senate all the way down to the top 5 cities in New Hampshire there’s only six people of color serving in elected office and that’s why New Hampshire got an F in diversity in politics.”

“Like this election, none of the Democrats in the party are supporting me.  Despite all the experience I have and in 2008 in the New York Times, a former councilman, well respected and ran with the upper crust said hey ‘I’m not gonna vote for that black man.’ That’s in the New York Times. [referencing Obama’s election].”

“Then in June of this year, one of the city councilors got up and said, ‘We don’t need anymore colored faces or gender faces,‘  and when the issue of diversity would come up they’d say,  ‘We’re running really good so we don’t need to worry about diversity, the people voted, we don’t need any of this.’  People said that it happened and I didn’t believe them and I went and got the tape of the meeting.   I was shocked and insulted and I put that down on Facebook to the Keene Democrats and the only reply was from one city council member and he said ‘Don’t go down that road.'”

“This part of the state has about half the state’s average for people of color.  Part of my big thing is that I want to change the dynamics of this area.  I know that looking around we’re one of the wealthiest places in this country, we’re ranked very high in assets.  We have people who have over a million dollars and yet we have 15% poverty level.  There’s a lot of immigrants come in and graduate from colleges. Between 2015 and 2040 we’re only projected to grow by 3,000 people a year – in the county.”

New Hampshire has a very large aging population as well.

“Yeah, we’re second in the country, so we’ve got people aging really quick and a below poverty population – the fastest growing population.  We need to get people to come here and buy the houses, of all colors and start businesses and raise the economy.”

Speaking of people coming to live and work here and immigrants, let’s most on to issues of laborWhen we talk about immigrants everybody brings up right? Of course and divided among the left and right its divided mostly by racism.

“Yeah, if I bring in a college educated person from England, Ireland and Canada, they’re not viewed negatively or Eastern Europeans – Russians and such. You can go to the top of Maine and down to North Carolina, you can go and see that most of those tourist places are staffed by Eastern Europeans.”

“The vast majority of people view immigrants of color as immigrants that are uneducated and that’s just the stereotype.  You go to Dartmouth and to Yale, a lot of doctors are foreign, somehow if they come overseas and go to our colleges and stay here, they’re not immigrants but they’re here and NH needs to find a way to get more skilled people like them here.”

But the other issue is the misclassification of employees, that’s bad say in the construction industry.

“I got endorsed by the New Hampshire Building Trades and Construction Council.” [link to all endorsements and further information on Kris Roberts at end of interview].

“The problem is we got guys on the city council who own property and they use undocumented workers to work on their properties and it’s really amazing the people who will come out and bitch about it and are using them themselves.  We got to hold people accountable.  They bid a certain number and put the excess in their pocket instead of paying payroll taxes.”

“When I was on the school board and we got a 34 million contract to build a new middle school, I took advantage of a loophole in the law and said since they are going to be working on school property let’s do a background check on everybody.  By background checking everybody, the company was forced to do the job and they didn’t make the money they wanted  so they didn’t come back.  So if you have a company to build a school such, you say, ‘Hey let’s do a background check,’ and you can make sure you have good contractors in there.”

Do you support getting a prevailing wage in New Hampshire?

“Yes, for example, the university system doesn’t want the prevailing wage because they can get out of state workers to work for less while we’re using tax payer funds on these projects even at Keene State when they put in all those dorms which are financed by the university system.   They use workers from out of state so that money goes out of state.”

Would you be willing model wage law on Bacon-Davis?  That has requirements to hire women and minorities and to enforce anti-discrimination laws?


I guess you are against Right to Work?


Do you support bringing back and minimum wage in New Hampshire?


And do you support getting rid of the tipped wage?

“Yes.  I just think it’s really wrong to say to your employee, ‘Well I only have to pay $2.50 an hour and the tips will cover you and if you’re tips don’t cover I don’t pay you plain and simple.’  If I going to work any place I want to get paid at least minimum wage.”

Considering the red marked bridges and crumbling and infrastructure all around the state, do you support expanded infrastructure investment and do you support also using some funds for rail expansion?  In other words reducing some of the investment in highway expansion and put some of that money in rail?

“I really like the concept of rail.  If they can make it economically viable.  When I consider ‘economically viable,‘  I also look at the avoidance costs, less people on the road, less pollution and you should compute those as being economically viable. I need more facts, but I’m definitely not a no, but I can’t go there unless the facts justify it.”

So we’ll move onto renewable Energy.  How do you see how we can balance the issues that have come up in communities about renewable energy development? The North-east uses more fossil fuels than any other region in the country, are you familiar with geo-thermal?


“Also there was quite a conflict over wind power and its encroachment on important conservation and recreational areas in the northwest, namely wind towers on the Cardigan Range and also there’s the conflict with Northern Pass.  Northern Pass people feel up north will cause a lot of upset to the mountains and to property owners with eminent domain but people in the south argue that its renewable energy they say they need more renewable power development.  How do you balance these issues and work on renewable energy development.”

“The one thing with renewable energy is that you are always going to have NIMBY people.  Its one of those;  the cost of electricity, the cost of oil keeps businesses out of the state, plain and simple .  The one of the fastest is the net metering, we voted to double net metering.  We got to sit  and figure out the transmission costs, once we get that I can see an unlimited cap on net metering because all of us we have to pay a transportation cost for the electricity we get and right now under net metering there is no transportation cost.  Eversouce and others they want more dependable electricity coming in and they don’t care where they get it from they just want to make sure that the transmission lines are covered.  There has to be a balance where you put the wind turbines, but we’re going to have to use the wind turbines, if you drive out west they’re there.  If you go to Germany they’re at all the farms.”

“Again let’s look at the farms we have, let’s look at the possibility of putting wind turbines in other areas. Giving the farmers extra money to help support the farms.”

Would you support looking at other resources such as geo-thermal development?

“Yeah, geo-thermal I’ve done that before we have a lot of granite here, if I pipe down and I see the granite in there and the temperature is a consistent 60 degrees and Iput a tank in my ground, I only have bump up my heat cost by twelve degrees.  Geo-thermal may be a high upfront cost but once its done its done.”

What about bringing jobs to NH?  How do we attract people that will stay, raise their families here, pay taxes and have an interest in investing in the community?

“Keene and this whole area around here have a lot to offer people.   If I become Senator my vision would be a 91 economic corridor, like they’ve done along 93.  People talk about museums and stuff and you go down 91 to Springfield, Massachusetts there’s so much there.  You have to sit down and sell the area.  People say, ‘They will come to us.’ Well that’s not gonna happen.  No, you have to make the sale to them.”

“Well if you say in Manchester, ‘I want people coming to Manchester to start a business or saying you want women led businesses women would come and say, “I like Manchester, I’m going to settle here.’  This part of the state, we have not done any of that and I would use my advantage as a person of color and say hey, Keene isn’t as bad as the reputation.   There’s access to the highway, housing is cheap and we have an advantage, it’s not congested like Manchester or Nashua.”

“My thing here is we’re never going to get big businesses in this area, one some people are not going to want it, but the fact is our taxes are too high.  In Keene the taxes are 35 dollars per thousand so they’re not coming here.  Our demographics show business-wise they are not coming here.  So we have to go out and bring those small businesses in and once you bring them in they create other small businesses.  The taxes are too high and so business wise and demographic wise, they are not coming.  So we have to go out and bring those small businesses in and when get here they create more small businesses.”

“I went to the realtors  I said ‘Hey when you look at the houses in southwest New Hampshire, a lot of them are hundred years old and if you bring more people in it’s a lot more houses being build and again you are creating more. I think for technology and other businesses we’re good for that, we can grow.  The that did what they could to keep growth out of the city, they are dying off, so we can do that.”

“People who did whatever they could to keep union activity out of the city, they are dying off, so there is opportunity for people and business opportunities to grow.  Just recently at Keene the janitors unionized and tutors are unionized and para-paraprofessionals unionize.”

That brings up the standard of living for a bunch of people in the community.

“Yes, exactly.

Revenues – As progressives we have a lot of ideas about growth and we see growth as requiring investment.


Of course investment takes money and the money has to come from somewhere. And you just talked earlier about higher taxes.  It’s a fact that nobody can deny that NH has a strange kind of revenue system that is often quite a burden to many working people and some have said grossly its unfair.

“Oh it is.”

How do you see it as unfair and how can we increase revenue?

“I would increasing the gas tax and then I would support a road use tax cause we are coming up with more electrical vehicles that aren’t paying as much road use tax and with a 40mpg standard gas we would never get enough money to maintain the roads we have.  If we can just maintain our roads and if we can’t maintain our roads, we can’t get industry to come in.  I saw a study that Fed-Ex doesn’t mind paying extra money on the road use tax because they figured on how many hours they gain not being stuck in traffic.  I think that’s a simple.”

That kind of gets back to the argument for rail – that businesses would be interested in expanding freight rail and passenger rail …

“For all intents and purposes we don’t have freight rail.  I go right across the Connecticutt River and not only is there freight rail but there’s even Amtrak.  People get on the train from New York, visit Vermont, stay in hotels and all that and spend their money and we don’t any of that.  The closest Amtrak goes is Durham and than back to Boston.”

Yes the Down-Easter.

“As far as taxes, we have to come up with a way to make the property tax more equitable.  I supported a bill awhile ago for a homestead exemption for a certain amount.  The reason being is, say my house is 153,000 in valuation, I have to pay a thousand dollars a month in property taxes on that house.  Now I’m 52 my wife’s 58.  She’s still working but when she retires we’ll get so much for social security.  Now if I’m paying taxes and if my house isn’t paid off, for a lot of people their houses are not paid when they retire, how can I stay in that house when I retire?  A lot of people cannot stay in their houses.  Like I couldn’t afford to stay in my house and I have a moderate house at 153,000 dollars, so what we’re doing is again I can go in and say, ‘You know what, so what if I sell my house for only 15,000 more, I can still sell it, less it out for even less and move down south to say, North or South Carolina where the living is cheaper.”

I’ve known people that have done that.

“That’s our middle class. We’re gutting the middle class.  People forget even when yhou’re in your 60’s and 70’s and you’re retired you can still be in the middle class and you can still be retired.  If I have a money, if I have liquid assets in the house, I’m outta here.”

So we’re losing an important demographic

“Yes, we’re losing the disposable income demographic.  Taxes on my house in South Carolina are $958 dollars a year.  People say well you have to pay sales tax and you have a small income tax.  But their income tax is at a higher level and I would have to spend a lot of money every year before I’d start losing compared to our property tax.  We cannot afford to keep allowing our people to migrate out.  My motto is, if you’re born in New Hampshire you’re not going to be rich enough to stay in New Hampshire.  Here’s the sad part; if you are poor you are going to spend your whole life in New Hampshire because you cannot leave.  You’re stuck; you have no options to move.  But if you’re middle class you will say ‘I’m not doing this anymore and get up and leave.’  We can’t afford to allow this.”

“I have nine grandchildren and three daughters that I’m in the community, I have a connection and the way I vote up at the state house, I understand how it has an effect in the community.”

“We’re the only state in nation where only half our reps are born and raised in New Hampshire, so they have no family here and they don’t see the benefit in voting for more taxes and voting for education or communities and so they don’t have any connection to their whole communities.  So when issues come up for schools and such they say, ‘Hey I don’t want to pay for that, I don’t have any kids here, I don’t have any family here.’”

“There was a bill that came up in the state house where people would only be responsible for their exclusive community they’d create and they only wanted to be responsible for the infrastructure for that gated community.  If we had a gated community and we had no kids in it why should I pay a school tax for the rest of community?  That’s the disconnect, that’s what one the big problems in New Hampshire.”

And what you’re talking about just now, doesn’t that sound like libertarians?


So let’s go to the issue of the Free Staters, you’re in Keene, how  do you feel about dealing with Free Staters?  Do you find them to be a problem? There are Free Staters that have been targeting communities by running as Democrats and then caucusing with the Republicans.  I don’t know if they are in the Senate now,  but it seems like it will encroach eventually.

“It will encroach. But you know the Senate is kind of a wiser and older body.  I think they are not going to put up with a bunch of the crap of these Free Staters like when they would go up on the floor and talk about one little word in a bill.  Because you got all these bills from the house, a lot of them are whacky bills.  The Senate has to listen to all of them, but the best part about the Senate is you can listen to the bill and then you can vote it up or down right after listening to the bill.”

“Not like in the House you listen to a bill and you might not exec a bill for a couple of weeks.  So they dispose more of those bills because they don’t go to the floor as much as the house does.  You got people in the house, especially the libertarians and some of the really radical Republicans, they are not even Tea Party, they’re radical.  They will go to the floor just to make a point or they may go to the floor to make a video so they can show how much they are doing for their people or to go and vote so they can get a certain score; a lot of grand standing and the Senate doesn’t put up with that grand standing.”

Do you see the libertarians as having a corrosive effect in New Hampshire culture and our ability to move forward and grow?

“Yes, because if I want to bring a company with 25 workers in Keene.  There has to be certain level of infrastructure, a certain level of social services.  Like the guy that we have in Keene, Ian Freeman, his philosophy is ala carte; you don’t have to pay any taxes but if you use the water or you use this or that, you pay for those but if I don’t have any kids in school or need any other services, I don’t have to pay for any of that.  That’s really disruptive to the community because in your whole lifetime you’re going to pay for things you never use.”

“But you’ll also get more of a value from a thing that you hardly ever paid for, you know like school, it might be a a hundred thousand dollars to teach your kid in school, but you are never going to pay a hundred thousand dollars in school tax and so like the roads; you aren’t going to pay much for the roads, but you are going to use the roads a lot.  So there has to be a community, no one can stand alone.  We can’t go back to the thing where you hire your own fire service and hire your own police; and if you’re house in burning down, ‘Oh sorry.’”

Are willing you to help build a progressive caucus?


So we’ve just touched on just everything some a little more and some little less, but we have to close.  So let’s close with ‘the ask’ Why should people vote for you?

“Why should people vote me?  I think the most important part is that I go in and listen to people more than talk to people.  People want to be heard and people want believe that they matter. If you’re an elected leader or a military leader, it’s your responsibility to go up to people and like said listen to what they have to say and you can get valuable input from anyplace as long as you want to listen.  Second is that I do research, I view myself as knowledgeable in a lot of areas because I’m always planning ahead.”

“Third, I will vote the issue – I will vote the issue.  I might vote libertarian, I might vote Democrat or Republican.  I will look at the issue and if its beneficial for the people that I represent then it’s the issue I’m going to vote positive for, If it’s a negative then I’m going to vote negative, regardless of where it comes from.  I’ve taken good ideas from bad people and made them better.  A lot of bills I got passed up in Concord, I looked at them and I’m made amendments to them to make them better and that’s what I do.”

Links for more information and endorsements for Kris Roberts


Keene Sentinel endorsement: Kris Roberts, Military Disciplined, Driven by Principle

Endorsement from NH Building Construction and Building Trades Council : kris-roberts-endorsement-from-building-trades-council

Kris Roberts’ campaign page: Kris E. Roberts for Senate Seat 10

Kris Roberts Vote Smart

Japan Times : Agent Orange at Base in 80’s : US Vet



State Candidates Meet and Greet with Voters and Bernie

Yesterday afternoon the progressive group Rights and Democracy hosted a Labor Day celebration and get together at Jim Mitchell Park in Warner, NH.  Rights and Democracy hosted the event to draw attention and support for progressive candidates in the upcoming elections from county commissioner to state house and senate to gubernatorial races.

We were able to capture on camera some of our fantastic progressive state candidates.  We also caught volunteers with Rights and Democracy and other notable state activists who’ve helped in putting forward a progressive agenda for our state.

Along with a crowd of what we’d estimate at about 500, hopeful candidates for various state offices showed up for a meet and greet opportunity.  Some of the candidates had received endorsements from Rights and Democracy.

Volunteers manning the sign-in table at the entrance to event.

RAD volunteers staff the sign-in table at the entrance.

Tim Smith, state rep incumbent and running for his third term, Hillsborough 10, talking to a voter

Tim Smith, state rep incumbent and running for his third term, Hillsborough 10, talking to a voter

Bernie, waiting to speak, studies his notes.

Bernie, waiting to speak, studies his notes.

The numbers of progressive folks who turned out on what came to be a bit of a hot day to listen and talk to local candidates and see Bernie took over every bit of the green and then some. It was quite clear that RAD had under estimated the number of folks coming as the food tent couldn’t keep up with the demand and a line quickly formed.
Bernie gets onstage

When came Bernie on the stage, he received a standing ovation.  He immediately went into the importance of paying attention to the issues coming in the next congressional session.  Bernie mentioned the dangers of TPP and called on people to get involved in pushing their congress people to not pass the TPP which among other ills, includes a provision to have corporate entities empowered to sue countries, states and local governments for infringing on their “rights” to make a profit.

Kris Roberts, state senate candidate, Keene

Kris Roberts, state senate, District 10 candidate (district 10 is southwestern New Hampshire)

He also spoke of the importance of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, to which some folks in the crowd yelled out “Offshore wind!”
As many would have expected, Bernie closed his speech by a his obligatory push to get progressives to support Hillary Clinton.  Immediately when after utterly the first sentence and her name, the crowd booed loudly and some shouted “Jill Stein!”.  But Bernie was unfazed, holding up his hands while the cacophony continued Bernie charged on, “I know, I know!” the crowd began to quiet down slightly, “I’ve been in politics for thirty years, I think I know something about third party politics!”

He then went on to explain that Trump was like no other candidate in the history of this country and everyone should do what they can to stop him.  What is notable is that Bernie did not praise Hillary or go into anything about her, but stood firm on the idea that right now presents a unique challenge that must be addressed in a unique way.  Certainly, Bernie left no indications of his love of the mainstream Democratic party, or the Democrats at all for that matter, since in fact, as he referenced no doubt in his “I know something about third party politics!” statement, he has run most of his career as an independent.

Rights and Democracy also had a videographer there who was able to capture the speeches on video which were uploaded and we copied here:



Steve Marchand, candidate Governor and Josh Adjutant, candidate state rep, Grafton 9, listen to Bernie.

Dan Feltes, incumbent state senate, running for his second term

Dan Feltes, incumbent state senate, District 15, (southern New Hampshire) running for his second term with his mom and Ken Roos, Vice President of SEIU Local 1984

According to the news release given out at the volunteer tent Rights and Democracy  is ” a bi-state progressive political organization in New Hampshire and Vermont.” Rights and Democracy also states that “over 200 people committed to attend the event in less than six days.”  No doubt demonstrating the hunger of the average voter for a message that speaks to their concerns and their needs.


“The political revolution that began with Senator Sanders campaign in still only getting started,” said Michelle Salvador, founding chair of Rights and Democracy.  “There is an enormous frustration with the political system in this country, and we believe the best thing we can do is build the movement for change on a local level.”


Tim Smith, state rep candidate, Hillsborough 10 (Manchester west-side) speaks.


Mark King, state rep candidate, Hillsborough 33, clowns around with the camera, “Ok, how about if I look up?”

Rachael Booth signs a transactivist's shirt. Rachael spoke about how issues around efforts to legislate bathroom use gave her the final push to run.

Rachael Booth signs a transactivist’s shirt. Rachael spoke about how issues around efforts to legislate bathroom use gave her the final push to run.


Rachael Booth, candidate state rep Grafton 15 takes the speaker’s podium to talk about what motivated her to run.

More pictures:
Josh Dolman and his partner, Josh works on the Shawn Connolly Congressional campaign.

Josh Dolman and his partner, Josh works on the Shawn Connolly Congressional campaign. Josh appears at nearly every progressive event.

We also got a shot of Eric Zulaski, partner of Elizabeth Ropp who spoke.  Both Eric and Elizabeth were early supporters of Bernie’s campaign and had the first house party in New Hampshire.  Eric works on immigrant rights and also does his share of volunteer community activism in his spare time.

Eric Zulaski, activist and current employee with

Eric Zulaski, community activist currently working on immigration issues.

Anthony, Field Organizer for Rights and Democracy

Anthony, Field Organizer for Rights and Democracy, we got him to stop running and put down his clipboard for a minute!


Tireless Bernie campaign volunteer and now a tireless Rights and Democracy volunteer Jane Haig, just come to New Hampshire from Alaska and we’re glad she did!

Bernie sign

Folks listen intently.One of many Jill Stein supporters.




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