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Ashooh makes second bid for Congress

LACONIA — For the past decade, the 1st Congressional District has passed back and forth between Carol Shea-Porter of Rochester and Republican Frank Guinta of Manchester like a hot potato. Although they are seeking a fourth rematch, Guinta is challenged in the Republican primary by Rich Ashooh of Bedford, who seeks to break their grip on the seat while holding it for the GOP.

This is Ashooh's second bid for the seat. In 2010, when Guinta won the seat for the first time, he ran a strong third, just 42 votes shy of finishing second, as a field of eight shattered the vote in the GOP primary. This time around in a two-horse race, with Guinta haunted by his by his troubles with the Federal Election Commission, which prompted several prominent Republicans to call for his resignation, Ashooh enjoys much shorter odds.

In an election year that has been overshadowed by outsiders and insurgents, Ashooh boasts an a record of professional experience, civic engagement and charitable service that marks him as a consummate insider. Born and raised in Manchester, where his grandparents, Lebanese Christians fleeing persecution, settled a century ago, he graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1986 and soon made his way to Washington. He worked in the offices of two United States senators — Gordon Humphrey and Warren Rudman — in the 1980s, who left him with a commitment to fiscal discipline and responsibility, and dread of deficit spending and excessive debt.

After returning to New Hampshire, Ashooh served as a senior executive at BAE Systems, an aerospace manufacturer, overseeing the firm's relationships with federal and state government until last year. He represented the company as a director of several state regional and national business organizations. At the same time, he has trustee of both the University System of New Hampshire and Franklin Pierce University as well as a director of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and New Hampshire Public Television. Most recently, Ashooh served as interim executive director of the Warren. B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public Service at the University of New Hampshire School of Law, a position he relinquished to run for Congress.

Pursuing sound fiscal policies and encouraging economic growth were Ashooh's priorities in 2010 and they remain his priorities in 2016. He stressed the urgency of reducing the deficits, balancing the budget and shrinking the debt, but rejected both sequestration and austerity. Instead, he said he was referring to "limiting growth," which he added would require Congress summoning the political will to make difficult choices.

In addition, Ashooh specified three necessary reforms. "The budget process has to change," he said, adding that he is reluctant to specify details because "people's eyes glaze over." Turning to the tax code, he said that it should be made more fair and more efficient while adjusting corporate taxes to repatriate capital has has flown abroad. Finally, the entitlement programs, chiefly Social Security and Medicare, must be reformed to ensure appropriate benefits for future generations.

Ashooh acknowledged that "Without bipartisanship nothing major gets done" and added that "a certain amount of pragmatism must be restored."

"I'm a limited government guy," Ashooh said, explaining that spurring economic growth will require "reducing government intervention in the marketplace" by easing the regulatory burdens and improving the tax environment for business. At the same time, he said that constraints placed on banks, especially community banks, in response to the recession, should be relaxed to ensure access to capital for for small businesses.

Ashooh, once a director of Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, conceded that congressional Republicans have "taken a very negative approach to health care," but at the same time insisted that the Affordable Care Act has not proved successful, particularly in containing costs. "We need to reform the reform," he said, "by addressing the cost drivers." In particular, he favor adjusting the incentives in Medicare and Medicaid to reward efficiency and trim costs.

Ashooh described the climate of the upcoming election as "not like anything I've ever seen before. I'm very glad to have my own race." He emphasized that while he will support the Republican presidential nominee, he will devote his time, energy and resources to his own campaign.

"I'm not running to be a preacher," Ashooh remarked, adding that he believes "You can hold to your principles, but still solve problems and get things done." He said that his resume "fits the profile of a lot of candidates," then added in jest "just not the ones who've won." His resume may be a handicap in the GOP primary. But, if he can overcome it, his deep roots in the community, where he has worked successfully with others of all persuasions, may serve him well among undeclared voters who will decide the outcome of the general election.

Opechee flasher appeals conviction to Supreme Court


CONCORD — A transient man convicted of exposing himself to children at Opechee Park on Sept. 1, 2014, still maintains his innocence and has asked the New Hampshire Supreme Court to review his trial.

Specifically, Daniel King, 54, formerly of Concord, contends that the Belknap County Court erred when it allowed a previously unnamed and unidentified witness to authenticate a video recording after the court determined the state didn't have anyone on its witness list that would do so.

Secondly, King said the court also made a mistake when it wouldn't allow his defense team to cross examine an eye witness as to whether or not there were conversations with others before their interview with the Child Advocacy Center.

King also says the fact that he left the state, even though he was homeless, not under arrest, and never told not to leave New Hampshire, should not have been allowed into evidence.

He also asked the Supreme Count to determine if the state presented enough evidence to the jury for it to determine beyond a reasonable doubt that he was the person who exposed himself that day.

King, who is a registered sex offender, was convicted by a jury of two counts of indecent exposure and sentenced to serve 3 1/2 to 7 years in prison. He is to complete a sex offender program.

Laconia Police initially tracked King to Concord after viewing camera footage and having one of the children who was at the park pick him out of photo array of eight men.

She told police he was manipulating his genitals with one hand while exposing himself with the other. He had left the area before the children notified police but they were able to give police a decent description of his car.

King was interviewed about the incident at the Concord Police Department on Sept. 19. He initially denied being in Laconia that day, but when he was shown footage of his car from the middle school cameras, he remembered passing through the city that day.

King left the Concord area at some point after that interview. About a month after the incident, Laconia Police obtained a warrant for his arrest.
He was found by U.S. Federal Marshals in Garland, Arkansas, and arrested on Dec. 10, 2015. Police found him by pinging his burner cell phones. He had abandoned his car in Maryland.

King was also convicted in U.S. District Court, District of New Hampshire for failing to register as a sex offender in New Hampshire and Arkansas.

Potter Road residents prefer rough road to slow speeders in Gilford


GILFORD — When the town plans to rebuild a road, some residents on the road question whether their dreams have come true – or not.

Potter Hill Road, which runs parallel to Cherry Valley Road or Route 11A, presents one of those dilemmas. It is on the 2017 town road plan for reconstruction .

By all accounts, including that of Gary Kiedaish and 11 other resident families, Potter Hill Road is in very poor condition. The lower part is washed out and, in Kiedaish's opinion, that is a "godsend."

But after it's rebuilt, Kiedaish and his neighbors fear Potter Hill Road will become a speedway from the center of Gilford Village to where it connects to Cherry Valley Road near the Gilford Outing Club.

Kiedaish told selectmen Wednesday that he hopes with next year's road rebuild some kind of speed barriers will be installed.

"When it's in good condition, it gets a lot of traffic," said Kiedaish, who added he doesn't know why, because it is actually shorter and quicker to go from Gilford Village along Route 11A to get to the same place.

This is not the first time speeding on Potter Hill Road has been brought to the attention of the selectmen.

The town reduced the speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph a few years ago, but Kiedaish said it hasn't helped much.

Police consistently monitor the road for speed and recklessness but obviously can't be there all of the time.

Town Administrator Scott Dunn told Kiedaish that beginning on July 25, there will be a third data collection done by the police department. Measuring volume and traffic speed, Dunn said the police will file a report for the selectmen and the Public Works Department director to evaluate.

He also said the preliminary plans call for the intersection with Cherry Valley Road to be made into a "T," which is not necessarily for speed control but will make exiting from it safer by providing better sight lines.

Selectmen's Chairman Richard Grenier said the town just installed a speed table on Edgewater Drive as part of its reconstruction for this season and will have the winter season to evaluate it before construction begins on Potter Hill Road.

"This is the perfect time to discuss it," said Grenier. "It's before construction time."

There will be a public hearing on Potter Hill Road on Aug. 24 at the Gilford Town Hall.