Joseph Haas is running for town treasurer in Gilmanton, vowing to comply with state law requiring "collateral" in coin and to dispense with checks as a form of payment. (David Carkhuff/Laconia Daily Sun)
By DAVID CARKHUFF, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILMANTON — In a small town, paths cross. But in Gilmanton, a candidate for treasurer reported encounters with two judges who adjudicated a small claims case involving selectman's candidate Don Guarino.
Maybe this coincidence is less startling when the candidate in question is Joseph S. Haas, someone with a record of challenging legal processes in New Hampshire.
The Nashua Telegraph reported that Haas was accused of threatening future U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte and her family in 2004 when she was New Hampshire Attorney General. Haas said he approached Ayotte about the speedy-trial rule on behalf of a friend, and he said she rebuffed him. He then made the analogy of Pharaoh facing plagues in the book of Exodus for not letting Moses and the chosen people go. This remark was construed as a threat, he said. He was arrested but then released on bail.
Three years later, the Telegraph reported, Haas was convicted of criminally threatening Lebanon City Councilor Terri Dudley. Haas said he used the expression "wise up or die," and invoked an image of Dante's Inferno, in regards to Dudley, who opposed one of his initiatives.
More recently, Haas brought charges of "official oppression" against former Grafton County Superior Court Clerk Robert Muh in 2012 and then-Gov. Maggie Hassan in 2014, according to the state judicial branch, the Telegraph reported. Both were dismissed, the newspaper reported.
Haas said he was a landlord in Ashland, and then later he lived in Concord, but he acquired a house in Gilmanton and the woodlot with neighboring cabin in Boscawen.
He has a trust fund from his late parents which allows him to pursue his legal endeavors.
The two judges that Haas encountered who intersected with Guarino's small claims case — a case which resulted in Guarino's Feb. 15 arrest in Belknap County — were Kristin Spath, who used to be the attorney general assistant for the ballot law commission, Haas said.
"There's a statute on the books that says that all candidates shall pay at the time of filing, and I said, 'Well, a check is not payment, a check is an order to pay, and Federal Reserve notes are promises to pay, and until the actual payment is made, the applicant is not a candidate.' So what I did is I took that argument to the ballot law commission."
Haas recalled his mixed feelings about Spath, who ruled against Guarino and held him in breach of contract over a contracting job, "Now she's a judge. I appeared at her confirmation hearing, and I said, 'Yes, she's very nice, but as far as making decisions on the law, you've got to watch out for her,'" Haas said.
Judge Edward Gordon also was involved in the Guarino case, issuing orders to pay. Haas said, "When I was a landlord in Ashland, he was my state representative."
Haas said he mailed letters to Gordon's home, but they were thrown in the fire, according to the feedback he received.
Haas said he believes in silver dollars as currency.
"If I'm a town official, I can say if you don't do it, I will go to another bank," he said.
Haas filed a lawsuit against the town of Boscawen a year ago over taxation. He said there is no connection between him running for treasurer and his case in Boscawen.
Belknap County Commissioner Glen Waring is also running for town treasurer, and he addressed two campaign points by Haas at a Wednesday candidates' forum.
A collateralization agreement is due to any excess funds beyond $250,000, Waring said, and he said the town maintains such an agreement with Meredith Village Savings Bank to insure town funds. And he mentioned the silver dollar currency argument.
"Employees certainly do receive a paper check. However, that paper check can be brought to any Meredith Village bank and they can receive cash in hand," Waring said.
Waring has been the town treasurer for Gilmanton since 2009, when he was first appointed. He then took office March of 2009.
"Professionally, I've got 25 years as a finance professional," he said.
Waring worked as a financial officer in various auto dealerships throughout New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and in 2011, he took the position of finance director for Belknap County.
In January 2015, his position was on the verge of being eliminated, so he became business administrator in Greenville and New Ipswich for the Mascenic Regional School District. Waring accepted the full-time position of Gilford finance director on Sept. 19, 2016. Then, last year, he ran for county commissioner to represent District No. 2, which includes Barnstead, Belmont, Gilmanton and Tilton, and won in the primary and ran unopposed in the general election.
The duties of the treasurer are certainly governed by statute.
"The town does have a finance officer, and I do work closely with that finance officer," Waring said, noting the treasurer is more of an oversight position.
"Certainly having 25 years in as an accounting finance professional I feel I'm quite qualified for the position. There are certain overlaps of information knowledge between the town here and the selectmen and up to the county level," he said.
Waring said he has been a Gilmanton resident for almost 20 years.
"They've had clean audits for several years. It's a nice little community," he said.
Voting takes place Tuesday, March 14, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Gilmanton Academy Building, 503 Province Road.
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