LACONIA — Yesterday, for the second time in as many weeks, Michael Cryans, the Democratic candidate for the Executive Council in District 1, visited the city where he addressed the Laconia Rotary Club then visited the Huot Regional Technical Education Center, Central Fire Station, and the Laconia State School property before calling at several downtown businesses to end the day.
Cryans, 62, was born and raised in Littleton, where he graduated from high school in 1969 before earning his bachelor's degree at Springfield College in 1973. He returned home and taught physical education at Littleton High School for five years before joining Littleton Savings Bank as a trainee. The bank became the Dartmouth Banking Company and Cryans was its senior vice-president when it was sold 15 years later. He spent a decade self-employed, providing financial counseling to small businesses and working families and since 2003 has served as director of Headrest, a substance abuse and recovery facility in Lebanon. He has served on the Grafton County Commission for the past 17 years.
"It's a huge undertaking, a humbling experience to run for the executive council in this district," Cryans told the Rotarians. He displayed a map, explaining that the district sprawls across two-thirds of the land area of the state, reaches into seven of its 10 counties — Coos, Carroll, Grafton, Belknap, Strafford, Sullivan and Merrimack — and includes four of its 13 cites — Laconia, Berlin Claremont and Lebanon — 109 of its 221 towns and most of its unincorporated places. But, Cryans noted, 80 percent of the state's population lives in the other four Executive Council districts.
Countering a common assumption, Cryans said "I don't view this job as North County job." Instead. he said there are "pockets of population" all across the district "each with its own issues." Apart from his experience in business and government, he said that as a distance runner, who runs 10 miles every day and has covered 80,000 miles in the last decade, he has the "perseverance and sticktoitiveness" the position requires.
Cryans said that the constitutional duties of the executive council are to approve the governor's nominations for commissioners and their deputies of executive departments and agencies, numerous boards and commissions and judgeships as well as to approve state contracts amounting to some $4-billion a year.
However, he added that Ray Burton had "redefined the role of executive councilor, which "consists of three things — constituent service, constituent service and constituent service." He confessed "I'm not trying to fill Ray's shoes, which would be impossible for anyone," while insisting "I will do the best I can and represent you as best I can. No playbook comes with this job," he continued. "If you have a suggestion, I'll take it."
When the floor was opened to questions Cryans was asked what effect his party affiliation would have on his approach to the office "I'd like to think it wouldn't have any," he replied, adding that he thought the person's qualities were more important than their partisan allegiance.
Rick Lahey referred to the bill passed by the New Hampshire House of Representatives last week and asked what Cryans thought about legalizing the sale of marijuana. Explaining that that it was not a question to come before the Executive Council, he said that because he worked to overcome substance abuse he would have voted against it.
The discussion turned to Northern Pass and the possible proliferation of wind farms in Grafton County. "I don't think the towers should be built," Cryans said of Northern Pass, recalling that once the state license plates carried the word "scenic" and stressing that "the towers would drastically change the landscape forever." For the project to proceed, he said, "they must figure out a way to bury the lines."
With respect to wind farms, Cryans said that while personally he did not like the turbines on the ridge lines, he considered the permitting process was "a local issue" and believed "each community should have a greater say." That was not enough for Abe Dadian, who pressed Cryans for a commitment to forestall the development of wind farms, especially in the towns surrounding Newfound Lake.
When Cryans said he had no opinion for or against casino gambling, he was asked "do you gamble?" and answered to laughs, "I didn't say that, I came here today, didn't I."
CAPTION — Michael Cryans (right), the Democratic candidate for the Executive Council in District 1, said that at 62 he does not aspire to match the 17 terms served by Ray Burton. Nevertheless, during a visit to the Huot Technical Center yesterday he took time to speak with future voters, Eli (left) and Colin (center), at the Early Childhood Education program (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch).