MEREDITH — Rising to chair the Finance Committee in her second term in the New Hampshire Senate, Republican Jeanie Forrester is well placed to withstand the challenge of Democrat Carolyn Mello of Holderness, who is making her first bid for office in District 2.
"I don't believe my work is done," Forrester said as she eyed a third term. A veteran of Main Street programs in Meredith and Plymouth, former town administrator in Tuftonboro and New Durham and member of nearly a dozen civic and charitable organizations, she enjoys a strong presence in the 27 towns of the district. "Constituent service," she insists, "is my top priority."
Mello, a veteran of the United States Air Force, where she was a Russian linguist, recently retired after teaching special education for 17 years. As a teacher she was president of her union and as a retiree she served on the school board, experience that placed her both sides of the negotiating table.
The two candidates oppose the Northern Pass project and industrial wind farms, both major issues in the district. They agree that efforts should be made to shrink the role of money in electoral politics. Both favor increased support for higher education, both the university and community college systems. Forrester helped broker the compromise to extend health insurance to some 20,000 residents eligible for Medicaid, an initiative Mello supports. Neither candidate favors decriminalizing possession of marijuana. And while Forrester firmly opposes casino gambling, Mello questions its value as a revenue source.
Otherwise Forrester and Mello differ. A conservative Republican, Forrester believes that the state's fiscal challenges arise on the spending side of the ledger while Mello suggests exploring additional sources of revenue. Forrester opposes and Mello favors raising the minimum wage. Forrester opposes and Mello favors repealing the death penalty. Forrester has supported providing parents with wider choices in educating their children, including voucher programs, while Mello is strongly opposed to the state investing funds or foregoing revenue to support private pr parochial schools.
In her two terms, Forrester has become a leader in the Senate, showing a command of the major issues, from the budget to health care, and playing a major role in addressing them. Her experience and presence poses a formidable challenge for anyone making their political debut.