By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — In what promises to be a spirited contest, Glen Waring of Gilmanton is challenging incumbent Dick Burchell in the Republican primary election for the District 2 seat on the Belknap County Commission, representing the towns of Barnstead, Belmont, Gilmanton and Tilton.
Waring, who served as the finance director for the county from 2011 until 2015, frequently crossed swords with Burchell both during his stint as a member of the county delegation between 2013-2014 and after his election to the county commission in 2015.
Waring is a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University, where he earned a degree in business administration with an emphasis on accounting. He worked as the business controller at Tiilton Ford, which during his tenure added other brands and other locations, including the dealership at Exit 20 on I-93, which is now the headquarters of AutoServ. After holding similar positions with other automobile dealerships, Waring found himself at the McGreevy-Buick-Cadillac-Mazda in Belmont when it was acquired by AutoServ and again working with the Gaudet family.
When the recession left Waring without a job, he spent three years providing financial services to several car dealerships before joining the county as finance director. In 2015, he resigned to become business administrator of the Mascenic Regional School District in Greenville. For the past six years, Waring has been elected treasurer in Gilmanton, where he has lived with his family for the past 20 years.
Explaining his decision to enter the race, Waring said "A couple of people approached me, and when the question was posed I didn't balk, didn't say yes or no." Soon he received more encouragement and quickly made his decision.
"I think the residents of the district deserve an alternative," Waring said. "I have the qualifications. I understand how government works, know what should be changed and have some ideas about how to change them."
Burchell, a semi-retired real estate agent, was elected to the New Hampshire of Representatives in 2012 and soon established himself as one of the most outspoken and controversial members of the Belknap County Delegation. He was openly critical of the County Commission, which then consisted of Democrat Ed Philpot of Laconia and Republicans John Thomas of Belmont and Steve Nedeau of Meredith, especially of their management of the county budget, plans for a new county jail and treatment of the director of the county nursing home. He was also repeatedly at odds with the county administration, which he considered too closely aligned with the commissioners.
When Burchell was elected to the county commission, Nedeau resigned his seat, leaving only Burchell and David DeVoy, both of whom were newly elected. Burchell became chairman, but when the county delegation appointed Hunter Taylor to fill the vacant seat, he soon found himself a minority of one. At a clamorous meeting in March, Burchell was ousted as chairman by a two-to-one vote, which he vainly challenged in Superior Court.
Burchell said Wednesday that he welcomed Waring's candidacy.
"I think it's great," he said. "It gives people a real stark choice. That's what elections are about."
He said that Waring was very close to the prior county commissioners and said "I have a very clear memory of how things went." He said that the future of the county nursing home in light of changes in the form and rate of Medicaid reimbursements is easily the most pressing issue facing the county.
In the 2014 Republican primary, Burchell topped Thomas, the incumbent commissioner, by 808 to 671, as he carried all four towns while running strongest in Gilmanton where he won by 98 votes.
Hunter Taylor, the incumbent county commissioner in District 3, representing Alton, Gilford, Center Harbor and Meredith, has filed for re-election while the term of the third commissioner David DeVoy, who represents District 1, consisting of Laconia, New Hampton and Sanbornton, expires in 2018.