By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
BELMONT — Three candidates have filed for Republican nominations for the two seats in Belknap County District 6 representing this community in the New Hampshire House of Representatives.
Incumbent Mike Sylvia has filed for a third term and John Plumer and Joel Weinrebe are making their first bids for pubic office.
Sylvia, is a Free Stater and semi-retired Federal Express driver who was recruited to run as a write-in candidate in the Republican primary in 2012 after no candidates had filed by the June deadline. He was elected that year and re-elected in 2014, and has served as a member of the Belknap County Delegation's Executive Committee.
He has championed legislation at the state level which would legalize the cultivation and possession of marijuana and supported efforts at the county level to decrease funding for outside agencies, including the Belknap Economic Development Council, and says that he supports accountability, small government and lower taxes.
He is one of a group of county legislators who have recently questioned whether the County Commission has the authority to be an affiliate member of the Community Health Services Network, maintaining that it opens up the county to future financial liabilities and therefore requires approval from the County Delegation. He has criticized the program and says he is not in favor of the provision that provides Medicaid coverage for those with substance abuse problems who haven't reached the age at which they would be eligible for Medicaid, maintaining that it assists those “who lack personal responsibility and should instead be working and supporting themselves.”
He said he is absolutely opposed to the Medicaid expansion which was approved by the legislature and would like to see it repealed at the state level. He is also critical of the situation with the Belknap County Sheriff''s Department and prisoner transport, which led to legal action being filed against the county by a victim of sexual assault by former Deputy Sheriff Justin Blanchette.
Weinrebe, seeking his first term, is a familiar face at county and state legislative meetings where he accompanied Rep. Shari LeBreche at many meetings. He said he and LeBreche are partners, ''like peas and carrots,” and that when she decided against seeking a second term he decided to run.
Weinrebe, a former corrections officer who spoke strongly in support of the Community Corrections facility plan which was adopted by the County Delegation, said he is a firm believer in the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms.
He says that his top legislative priorities would be passing HB 512, which he said was vetoed by the governor, and which would prohibit the confiscation of firearms during a state of emergency. He also called for passage of HB 461, which calls for establishment of American law as supreme and bans Sharia law. He also supports legislation which require that all driver's tests be conducted in English and would support legislation which would allow local police to turn over illegal aliens charged with crimes to federal authorities for deportation.
He said he believes elderly citizens should be treated with respect and provided with proper care at the county nursing home and that programs designed to keep kids in school and treat drug problems are an important investment in the future.
Plumer, a Belmont resident since 1991, said his family has a long history in New Hampshire, dating back to 1762 when his ancestors settled in Alexandria. A long-time civilian employee with the Army Corps of Engineers who served in Vietnam, Plumer has been active with Service Corps of Retired Executives in the Lakes Region and runs his own consulting firm, Plumer Associates.
He said he was approached about running as a candidate and decided to file as a Republican because he has always looked at states' rights over federal rights and sees a need to return to family core values with less federal government and reduced taxes. He says he is a strong believer in the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms.
“I feel strongly about the need for a better economic condition for our part of the state,” said Plumer, adding that there is a strong need for growing the area's workforce and expanding training opportunities to meet the needs of local industries.
He said greater awareness of the importance of associate-level education and programs which will help produce the kinds of workers with the skills and a welcoming environment for small businesses is needed.
Plumer said that drug problems are a 20th century plague and that curtailing drug trafficking and working to improve the social conditions are some of the steps needed to address the problem.
He said he favors a pragmatic and practical approach to dealing with problems facing the state, and says it's important that legislators find areas where they can compromise for the better good of those they represent.