TILTON/SANBORNTON — Incumbent Republican Dennis Fields of Sanbornton is seeking his sixth term in Belknap County's District 4, Sanbornton and Tilton, while Democrat Ian Raymond is hoping to recapture the seat he held for two years.
Other candidates for the two seats available in the district are Republican Tim Lang and Democrat Richard Burke.
Fields was first elected to the House in 1982 and but for a four-year hiatus from 2004 to 2008 has served ever since. Seeking his 16th term — the last five representing Sanbornton and Tilton and the first 11 representing Merrimack.
Born in Vermont, Fields graduated from Newport High School in Newport, Vermont, and served with the United States Navy between 1964 and 1971 and for many years was an active member and officer of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. In the most recent session, he voted with the House Republican Alliance, which scores representatives according to their adherence to the party platform, 57 percent of the time and even less often with the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance.
He has been a critic of the Belknap County Delegation's cuts to outside agencies and has supported funding for programs which will be a part of the new Community Corrections facility being built by Belknap County.
Raymond served as state representative in the 2013-14 session of the Legislature, where he worked as a member of the Science, Technology, and Energy Committee. During his term, he sponsored/cosponsored 16 bills, 12 of which were signed into law. He currently serves as a commissioner on the Lakes Region Planning Commission, as vice chairman of the Board at Resilient Buildings Group, as a member of the New Hampshire Wood Energy Council, as well as on more than a dozen other committees at the state, school district, and town level.
In 2008 Raymond initiated and arranged funding for a comprehensive energy upgrade project at all six of the Winnisquam schools, which has saved taxpayers over $1.2 million to date. He is currently working with the school district to install a wood pellet biomass plant at Sanbornton Elementary School and 500 photovoltaic panels Southwick Elementary School.
He says that he wants to focus on energy issues and supports the Medicaid expansion program and additional educational funding.
Lang spent 13 years in law enforcement is several states, including New Hampshire, and another 13 years operating his own information technology business. He has been something of a fixture in Sanbornton for some time, serving on the school board, chairing the Zoning Board of Adjustment and acting as moderator for both the town and school district. But, he said he was prompted to seek a seat in the House by the dissension that has roiled the Belknap County Convention for the past several years. "I think the delegation could use some compassion and empathy," he said. "I'm all for good healthy discussion, but I always learn more from those I disagree with than for those I agree with."
Lang expressed concern that the Legislature has withheld assistance and transferred responsibilities to municipalities. "Balancing the budget on the backs of city and towns doesn't help anybody," he said.
Richard Burke of Tilton has had a varied career as a political action coordinator for public employee union in northern New England and as a licensed nursing assistant at a county nursing home. Now retired, he says that he would like to use his time to work on programs that help meet the needs of the people of the state.
He said that he has been disturbed by cuts made by the Belknap County Delegation to programs that elderly and disabled people need to remain in their homes. "It's not a spending issue, it's a moral issue." says Burke, who noted that the Belknap County Commissioners and the Belknap County Delegation "don't get along very well. I'd like to provide some balance to improve the situation."
He says that he supports the Medicaid expansion program and would like to see it made permanent so that people who are newly insured can continue to have affordable health insurance, which reduce the costs absorbed by health care providers and lower health insurance premiums for other people.
Burke says that the Medicaid expansion also is an important part of helping deal with the state's opioid crisis.
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