Rep. Frank Guinta addresses questions by residents concerning the heroin problems in Laconia during his visit to the Laconia Housing Authority Sunrise Towers on Thursday afternoon. (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)
By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Calling at the city in his quest for re-election yesterday, U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta fielded questions from more three dozen residents at Sunrise Towers that ranged from the crisis of heroin addiction to the cost of prescription drugs and from his vice presidential aspirations to the timing of traffic lights.
"I like to take on the tough challenges," Guinta began, referring not to his campaign, which has been dogged by the detritus of his financing of an earlier run, but his role as a member of the House Budget Committee. He said that he contributed to securing $5 million for drug courts, which have taken a major role in leading addicts toward treatment and recovery.
But, Kay, who lost two relatives to overdoses — one on Christmas Day — was skeptical. When Guinta explained that "this takes time' and stressed the need for long-term treatment, she replied that one of her relatives completed two 60-day programs and a two-year program, but less than a day after leaving jail was found at the Landmark Hotel dead with a needle in his arm.
Guinta said that he recently returned from a trip along the border with Mexico, which he called the source of 80 percent of the heroin reaching New Hampshire, and stressed the urgency of tightening security and curbing the drug cartels. He also noted that efforts are underway in Congress to establish protocols to guide physicians in prescribing addictive opiate medications from pain.
Although Guinta offered no specific measures to lower the high cost of prescription medications, he took the opportunity to express his support for awarding a cost-of-living allowance to Social Security recipientrs. He said that while the bill he introduced last year failed, "I'm still fighting to make that happen."
One woman told Guinta that the lights change at the intersection of Main Street and Court Street before most residents are able to get halfway across the street. Another woman responded that when she approached the city she was told the timing of the lights is set by the federal government.
"I just worry about your safety," said Guinta, who said he would look into the matter.
Guinta eschewed any aspirations to either the vice presidency or a cabinet position when one man asked him how he would respond to an offer.
"I need to finish my work in Congress, " he said.
Guinta, who was originally elected in 2010, when he rode the crest of the Tea Party wave, only to be ousted in 2012 and re-elected in 2014, struck a moderate tone, noting that most of his legislative initiatives in Congress have been bipartisan. Likewise, he took an oblique swipe at the tenor of the Republican Presidential Primary, recalling that after a show of temper as mayor of Manchester his wife reminded him "you always need to conduct yourself in public as if your children were watching."
Guinta will be challenged by Pam Tucker of Greenland, who is serving her fourth term in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, and Rich Ashooh, a former executive at BAE Systems of Nashua, in the Republican primary.
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