Henderson to take on Baer for Laconia City Council

Likely challenger wonders if city still needs tax cap


LACONIA — As one of Laconia’s most popular barbers, Breanna Henderson listens to people talk about politics all day.
Now she’s heard enough and wants to do something about it.
Henderson, 28, is seriously considering running for the Ward 4 City Council seat held by Brenda Baer, 90.
“I get tired of waiting for other people to do things,” said Henderson, owner of Polished and Proper on Main Street.
“I don’t have children in the school system, but I have plenty of customers who do and they’re concerned.”
Plenty of teachers sit in her barber chair. They tell her they think about leaving the school district for better paying jobs even though they grew up here and love teaching here.
“That concerns me a lot,” Henderson said.
She wonders if the property tax cap has outlived its usefulness.
“Times have changed,” she said. “Do we still need that cap if we want to foster the growth that needs to occur in the city over the next 10 to 20 years?”
She said the city needs to do what is necessary to attract younger people and grow, rather than trying to “save taxpayers cents on the dollar.”
“In 10 to 20 years,” she said, “the majority of people who are the tax base will no longer be the tax base; they are aging out. Hopefully, the goal of the city will be in attracting a younger generation to offset the majority of the tax base being people on fixed income.”
No matter how good Laconia is, it needs to do a better job of marketing itself, Henderson said.
“If we are not seen as fantastic, that’s a problem,” she said. “Perception is reality. Personally, I consider it the city’s responsibility to create an environment that fosters economic development. You need to make yourself appealing. The city needs to make itself the best thing since sliced bread, including amenities, recreationally and educationally.”
For her part, Baer has been outspoken in protecting taxpayers and preserving the tax cap. She notes that many taxpayers are on fixed incomes and simply can’t afford tax hikes.
She welcomes a competitive race, noting that turnout in city elections tends to be low. Two years ago, Baer, like most councilors, ran unopposed.
“I have served my Ward and the City for the past 11 years in the only way I can,” she said in a letter announcing her plans to seek re-election. “Honestly, bipartisan, and with my only agenda doing what I can to make improvements in the city without hurting the taxpayers and non-taxpayers.”
She said some of those who want to end the tax cap are moving in the wrong direction.
“They want to spend, not for the good of the city, but for their own agendas,” said Baer. “Spend without thinking how it affects the lives of the young, the old, the poor and the middle class. They appeal to special groups. Some use fear, some are dishonest in their claims. Most are people who can stand the tax increases that will come, but they forget those who cannot.”
Mark Haynes, 69, facilities manager at Lakes Region General Hospital and Ward 4 moderator, is also planning to run against Baer.
He said there is no magic bullet for improving the city, but said great things can happen when the public and private sectors work together.
It was that approach that “grew Meredith to what it is now,” he said.
Tax incentives can be part of the picture in boosting economic development, he said.
He said the Colonial Theatre project is an example of something that will help downtown.
“I think Laconia, over the next period of years, can grow, and grow ourselves out of some of the issues we face. I would look to the growth of the city to make it better than it is.”
The candidate filing period for municipal elections is Aug. 2 through 11. The primary election is Sept. 12 and the general election will be held on Nov. 7.

Five file for Grafton County District 9 representative race


Five candidates have filed for the special election to fill a vacant District 9 House seat for Grafton County, with two others waiting in the wings.
By the end of the filing period on Friday, the Secretary of State’s Office had recorded four Republicans and one Democrat hoping to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Jeff Shackett (R-Bridgewater), 30 days after he was sworn in for a new term.
Former state representatives Paul Simard and Burton Williams, both Bristol Republicans, have filed, along with Timothy Sweetsir of Ashland and Vincent Paul Migliore of Bridgewater.
Tom Ploszaj of Grafton has filed as a Democrat in the race.
Another Democrat, Joshua Adjutant of Bristol, was unable to enter during the filing period because he was not a registered voter. He plans to run as a write-in candidate after the supervisors of the checklist have added him to the Bristol roster.
Another Bristol candidate, Andrew Hemingway, plans to run as an independent during the general election. Independents cannot run in the primary election.
Simard, who describes himself as fiscally conservative and socially moderate, served as state legislator in 1972-73 and in 2011-12.
“I really enjoyed it,” he said, “so when I saw there was an opening that needed representation, I’ve got a lot of experience, and to send a freshman down there at this point in the term would be useless. They would just find where the cafeteria and rest rooms were, and it would be over.”
Simard said the burning question during his first term was whether abortion should be legal in New Hampshire, and he voted twice to make it legal. In 2011-12, while serving on the House Finance Committee, “we met seven days a week for three months, and put a lot of work into helping Health and Human Services, and trimmed expenses by looking for results. We were the only state in the nation that actually reduced expenditures, and I’m very proud of that.”
Simard also served on the 361 Commission that studied the Northern Pass hydroelectric transmission proposal and recommended burying the lines along the entire corridor. He sat on the committee of conference for medical marijuana, and worked out an agreement for the state to cover payments to the towns when Massachusetts defaulted on its obligations under the Merrimack River flood control agreement.
Today, Simard has his eye on Steve Vaillancourt’s open seat on the Finance Committee. “It’s still open, and probably the most important committee in the House,” Simard said. “I think I could do some good with the one year that’s left.”
Williams served 10 years in the House after having served as a Bristol selectman for 19 years and for 21 years as a water and sewer commissioner.
Williams said he ran for Shackett’s seat to see that District 9 had representation in Concord — something that was lacking due to Shackett’s business interests.
“I know my way around down there, and I know the people,” he said.
“The whole trouble with both parties is they’ve got to get together and pull together. There’s too much separation down there,” Williams said.
Williams said that, although he’s a Republican, he has voted with the Democrats when they had a better plan. “There’s got to be parties, no question about that,” he said, “but they’ve got to get together. Right now, we need somebody to step in and take over without dubbing around too much. I’d fit in pretty well.”
Sweetsir is running as an outsider, saying people are tired of politics and politicians. Although he is a Republican, Sweetsir said, “I don’t care what political party anyone is in. What I do care about is people and what ‘we the people’ stands for. Most people that run for office have their own agenda; I do not.”
Sweetsir said he learned in his unsuccessful run for Ashland police chief against Tony Randall that the popular candidate wins. “I started getting involved in town politics,” he said, “and I’m part of the zoning board of adjustment now.”
He said he wants to hear what his constituents’ priorities are and to represent them in Concord.
“We’re supposed to be the servants of the people,” he said. “I’m not made of money, I don’t live in a big, fancy house. I live paycheck to paycheck just like everybody else. I care about the people in the five towns of this district, and will listen to them... It can’t be so much what I believe in. What matters is what do they want.”
With a 13-year law enforcement career in Stonington, Maine, and Northwood, New Hampshire, as well as at the maximum security prison in Concord, Sweetsir supports laws that protect both police and victims. “I want it to be more of a common-sense thing,” he said. “Everybody is innocent until proven guilty, but if someone pulls a gun and gets shot, why are you suing the police officer?”
Sweetsir also worked for nine years at Freudenberg-NOK’s plants in Bristol and Ashland. He supports economic development that reduces taxes, but also wants to hear from the neighbors affected by development.
“On the zoning board, you have to look at every situation,” he said. “Do I think there should be a Home Depot or Shaw’s in Plymouth? Of course. When you don’t have competition, it allows them to monopolize the area. I support growth with common sense.”
Migliore is campaigning as the candidate who can serve full-time, bringing 14 years of experience as a business owner and 10 years of service on the Newfound Area School Board to the job.
He cited his experience as school board chairman when, after a 2012 change in state law, the Newfound District found its tax cap prevented it from funding the next year’s budget. He said he worked with the state Department of Revenue Administration, then-Sen. Jeanie Forrester, and representatives Susan Smith and Harold “Skip” Riley to overcome the technicalities in the law that blocked funding the budget.
Having recently sold his business, Migliore said he can devote full time to the work in Concord.
“This is not something one should take lightly,” he said of the House position, going on to say it “should only be done after developing some wisdom which comes from doing this sort of thing in one capacity or another prior to declaring one’s candidacy. On-the-job training is not a good idea.”
As a member of the Bristol Economic Development Committee, Migliore worked to forge a partnership between Freudenberg-NOK and the Newfound schools to offer extended learning opportunities that expose students to new areas of potential employment upon graduation from high school.
As the lone Democrat on the ballot, Ploszaj said he entered the race so District 9 would have a vote “that represents the district and not the historical party line voting.”
“Though I agree that the district would be better-served having two representatives, I do not agree that a special election, with the added expense, was necessary,” he said.
A registered Democrat since 1972, Ploszaj ran for the Legislature in 2012 and said his campaign this year seeks “to elect the person who will best serve the ideas and views of the voters and our district, not a political party.”
“All too many times, a candidate wins because of trending politics, popularity/name recognition or they ran the race by the book using rhetoric, emotional and scare tactics,” he states on his website, www.tomploszaj.com. “I am the candidate who would give the people the chance to have their issues and concerns heard in Concord, the person who represents the constituents, not party agendas.”
The primary election for District 9, which includes the towns of Alexandria, Ashland, Bridgewater, Bristol and Grafton, will take place Tuesday, July 18, with the general election on Tuesday, Sept. 5.

Marine Patrol's new headquarters gets high marks from boaters

GILFORD — More than 100 people turned out for an open house Saturday morning at the New Hampshire Marine Patrol's new 32,000 square foot headquarters building in Glendale.
"It was a very good turnout and there were a lot of positive comments," said Lieutenant Crystal McLain, who oversaw all the details of the building's construction as project manager.
She said that people were impressed with the boat maintenance facility used for the Marine Patrol's fleet, as well as the two state of the art classrooms for public boating education courses, one of which was closed off because a boating safety class was being held.
The new headquarters building includes office space, a dispatch center and a lobby for issuing boat registrations. Along with areas for training and testing boaters, the building also has a booking area and a holding cell, where violators can be held before being taken to the Belknap County Jail.
Ground was broken on the $9.38-million project in September of 2015 and it was completed and opened in late October last year. It is named the David T. Barrett Marine Patrol headquarters in honor of the man who was the director of the Division of Safety with the New Hampshire Department of Safety from 1993 until his death in 2011.
As part of the project the state also purchased an adjacent 1.4 acre lot where Glendale Marine had been located for $1,345,000 to provide additional space for the bureau's operations.
The new facility features storm water filtering by underground drainage, filtered roof run-off drainage, porous concrete, green spaces designed to capture and filter run-off, energy-efficient LED lighting, a modern and efficient HVAC system, and sun tunnels. The building provides ADA compliant accessibility.
The facility was built on the site of the former Marine Patrol headquarters which was acquired by the state from Goodhue Boat Yard in the 1960s. John Goodhue II had built the boat yard in 1950 and rebuilt it after it was destroyed by fire in 1960.
A 2011 study of the former building identified numerous issues, including serious structural problems, lack of ADA compliance, excessive energy costs, and poor drainage and run-off containment from the parking lot.
The opening of the new building last November enabled the state to close a storage facility in Belmont and the temporary headquarters on the old State School property in Laconia, where operations were moved to during the construction period.