Laconia students vote heavily Republican in mock elections


LACONIA — Save for U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, the Republican ticket fared well at the hands of students at Laconia High School, nearly half of whom went to the polls in mock election on Friday.

In the contest for the presidency, Donald Trump, the Republican candidate, edged Democrat Hillary Clinton by 118 to 102 to win by 16 votes. Trump captured 47 percent and Clinton 42 percent of the 252 votes cast while Gary Johnson with 18 votes and Bernie Sanders with 14 votes split the balance.

The students also preferred the Republican candidate for governor as Chris Sununu claimed 59 percent of the vote in topping Democrat Colin van Ostern by a margin of 147 to 102.

And Republican Frank Guinta was the students' choice in the 1st Congressional District, narrowly withstanding the challenge from Democrat Carol Shea-Porter, with 125 votes to her 111.

But, in the race for the United States Senate, the students chose the Democrat, Gov. Maggie Hassan, over the Republican Ayotte, the sitting senator, by 151 votes to 108 votes.

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Students at Laconia High School cast their ballots for the the 2016 candidates in a mock election Friday. They chose Trump by 16 votes. (Courtesy photos)

Winnisquam students split tickets, back Trump and Hassan in mock vote


TILTON — Winnisquam middle and high school students did some ticket-splitting Monday when they voted in a mock election, voting by a 160-97 margin for Republican Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton for president, but supporting Democrat Maggie Hassan over incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte by a 170-95 vote.
And, while they supported Republicans Chris Sununu for governor and Frank Guinta for Congress, in the state Senate race in District 2 they supported Democrat Charlie Chandler, a former resident of the area, over Republican Bob Giuda by a 145-132 vote. Sununu topped Democrat Colin Van Ostern 161-95 and Guinta beat Carol Shea-Porter 114-94.
The election was organized by Rob Seaward, Winnisquam Regional Middle School principal, who said that he was motivated by what he saw as the frustration with the political process in this year's presidential election in which he has heard many people say they simply weren't going to vote.
"This reluctance to vote, along with some real negativity about the candidates, has affected our students' understanding of the people's duty to vote. As an educator and leader of an educational institution tasked in part with developing tomorrow's citizens, this is of great concern to me. Too many of our students are already showing disdain for the election process and saying that they are never going to vote as it just doesn't matter," said Seaward.
He said that the students received a real life election experience using the actual town of Tilton voting equipment in the high school gymnasium Monday. For more than a week leading up to the mock election, students were treated to multiple lessons on the importance of voting, how to vote, an overview of all candidates and their offices, and access to a lot of information that they could use themselves or share with families and friends.
Seaward said the experience was made possible through the efforts of the town of Tilton town offices, Tilton selectmen, Winnisquam School Board, and the faculty/staff of both WRMS and WRHS.

"It was truly a massive effort by so many folks in both the town of Tilton and our schools to develop and present this experience to the students of Northfield, Tilton, and Sanbornton," he said. "Pat Consentino, Joyce Fulweiler, Chuck Mitchell, and Tammy Davis were critical to the plans approval and implementation, and I can't thank them enough, and all of the other folks who worked so hard to make this possible."
Jake Roy, middle school teacher and co-designer of the mock election, said "It was a nice opportunity for our students to experience the process. Hopefully, they left feeling more comfortable and more likely to take part in the future."
Students agreed. Sixth-grader Aidan Rivers said, "I think this is really neat. I hope to do it when I am an adult," and Kaya Sargent said, "It was a good experience for the future."

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Cody Cheng, a sixth-grader at Winnisquam Regional Middle School, casts his ballot with moderator Keith Murray, one of the volunteers who took part in a mock election held at Winnisquam Regional High School Monday. (Roger Amsden/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

St. Joseph Church to close, be sold


LACONIA — The Catholic community in the city will soon be consolidated into one parish campus with the closing and eventual sale of St. Joseph Church on Church Street as well as the rectory next door.

Parishioners were notified of the decision by letter last week, in which the Rev. Marc Drouin wrote the purchase of the bank and the sale of the church and rectory will "continue the consolidation process that began in 2010 to create a unified and vibrant Catholic community in Laconia and Gilford."

The purchase of the former TD Bank building next to the Sacred Heart Church on Union Avenue will assure the church of adequate parking, address maintenance issues and reduce the costs of maintaining two campuses. Holy Trinity School will stay at its current location on Church Street, though research is being done to look at potential uses of the bank building for the school, said the letter. Drouin notes that studies have shown that parking is one of the top factors in church attendance.

Half the $500,000 purchase price has been donated by a parish family, according to the letter. The rest of the money is being bororowed from the Diocese. The loan will be paid off through the sale of the St. Joseph campus. No money from the capital campaign will be used to purchase the property.

"It's not a decision we wanted to make, but it is a decision we had to make," said Drouin Monday.

Drouin said the sale of St. Joseph Church is "not imminent," but has been a topic of discussion for about a year. He said a capital plan for the church and the rectory itemized nearly $500,000 in repairs, which he said is conservative.
He added that the parish has realized an annual deficit averaging $50,000 in recent years, and this had depleted the savings account.

In 2010, the New Hampshire Diocese decreed that the three separate Laconia parishes of Our Lady of the Lakes, Sacred Heart Church and St. Joseph Church would be merged into one parish. The parishioners chose the name St. Andre Bessette Parish with the assistance of the diocese.

The consolidation meant the closing of Our Lady of the Lakes Church in Lakeport, which was sold to the Evangelical Baptist Church. The other two church buildings remained open, with Father Drouin celebrating Mass in both. 

Both church buildings, located just a few hundred yards apart, have rich histories, with St. Joseph once commonly referred to as the "Irish" Catholic church and Sacred Heart as the "French" Catholic church. The TD Bank building was actually constructed as the home of a French-language high school operated by Sacred Heart Parish. 

The rectory next to St. Joseph Church was originally the home of John Weymouth Busiel, founder of the Busiel Mill. His son, Charles A. Busiel, first mayor of Laconia and governor of New Hampshire from 1895-1897, built a house located directly across the street, at the corner of Beacon Street East. The younger Busiel's house was known for many years locally as "the Governor's Mansion."

Drouin said the consolidation of the parish into one campus would create a "unified and stronger parish community" and allow for one priest "to minister to the community much more effectively."

There will be a meeting at noon on Sunday, Nov. 13, at St. Joseph Church to allow parishioners to discuss the future and answer any questions.

St. Josephs Church and rectory

St. Joseph's Church and the rectory next door are for sale. All church activities will be consolidated at Sacred Heart Church on Union Avenue. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

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