LACONIA — Although some consider the Executive Council, the first and last institution of its kind among the 50 states, the vestigial tail of the body politic, Christopher Boothby is among those for whom it is a vital organ of New Hampshire government, whose five members ensure that the executive departments and agencies remain responsive and accountable to the people.
Boothby, a Meredith resident, is among three Republicans vying to succeed his former mentor, Ray Burton who passed away in November after representing District 1 for 34 of the past 36 years. He will face Joe Kenney of Wakefield, who spent 14 years in the Legislature and was the GOP candidate for governor in 2008, and Mark Aldrich of Lebanon, a former congressional aide, in the primary election on Tuesday, January 21.
"This is my opportunity to give back," Boothby said of his candidacy during a recent interview at The Daily Sun. "I have the time, the resources and a supportive wife." Describing himself as "uniquely qualified," he noted that he served on the Belknap County Commission for 12 years, two of which he chaired the New Hampshire Association of Counties. With his wife Maren he owns and operates Boothby Therapy Services of Laconia, a firm with 45 full and part-time employees that provides occupational and speech therapy services to school districts. "I am prepared from a perspective of personal life experience, business experience and government experience," he said.
As one of many interns groomed by Burton, Boothby learned how executive councilors leverage their authority over appointments and contracts to serve their constituents. He recalled that Burton logged requests and complaints from constituents on three-by-five cards, which he always carried with him, and often had his interns address the issues with the appropriate state department or agency. "They would follow up because of Ray's leverage," he said.
Tailoring his message to Burton's legacy, Boothby casts himself as an advocate. "State government runs on money," he began, "and in order to get money, department heads have to get my vote and to get my vote I'm going to make sure they are responsive to constituents' needs. You're going to have to actually return my calls," he said. Boothby also learned that public service is about "showing up," adding that "they called Ray because he was someone who would follow up and get results. If I show up," he continued, "it means state government shows up as well."
Apart from constituent service, Boothby counts economic development as a top priority. "That means transportation issues, health care issues, work force skills and other education issues," all of which fall among the responsibilities of different executive departments and agencies. "Laconia is going to have to ride to the rescue of Laconia," he acknowledged, "but I can help by getting state government out of the way and working for the community, but I don't have a magic wand. As your advocate, I will help you find a way."
The winner of the Republican primary will face Democrat Michael Cryans of Lebanon, a Grafton County Commissioner, in the general election on March 11, town meeting day.