By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
Two years ago, Republicans captured all four seats in the New Hampshire House of Representatives from these two waterfront towns, but with only two of the incumbents seeking re-election the GOP monopoly in the district could be in doubt.
The two incumbents are Republican Herb Vadney of Meredith, running for his third term, and Glenn Aldrich of Gilford running for his second term.
A retired colonel in the United States Air Force, Vadney is fond of voting against anything that would put the fiscal health of the state at risk. He voted against several measures to address the opioid crisis that carried by bipartisan majorities. He opposed raising the gas tax, claiming that the proceeds would not be applied to their intended purpose, and expanding eligibility for Medicaid, fearing the federal government would reduce or withdraw its funding and place the cost on the state. He has opposed introducing Common Core and raising the minimum wage while favoring right-to-work legislation. Vadney has earned high rating and endorsements from both the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance and Americans for Prosperity.
Aldrich, a contractor, has close ties to the Free State Movement as a member of the Lakes Region Porcupines and has been endorsed by a leader of the Lakes Region Tea Party, but prefers to be called "a Granite Stater." He is a strong supporter of the right to bear arms and an equally strong opponent of the right to abortion. He voted against Common Core and expanded Medicaid and measures to tackle drug addiction but in favor of right-to-work legislation and not requiring a license to carry a concealed firearm. He calls for lowering business taxes to increase investment in business expansion and relaxing business to encourage entrepreneurship and competition.
The two new candidates on the Republican ticket are Mark Abear of Meredith and Norm Silber of Gilford.
A retiree who worked as an account engineer with United Parcel Service and owned several small businesses, Abear, who is a frequent guest on "The Advocates," the radio talk show hosted by Niel Young, said, "I've thrown enough goo at enough people that it's time to put up or shut up." As a candidate for state representative, he said, "I'm running to fill that job and my intent is to vote for what makes us more free and against what makes us less free," but beyond that remarked only "I'm not going with a personal agenda."
Silber is a semi-retired attorney who chairs the Budget Committee and sits on the Planning Board in Gilford. Although he is also seeking a seat in the House, he cited the adage that "No man's life, liberty or property is safe if the Legislature is in session" among his favorite maxims. His goal, he remarked, is to shrink the size and scope of government by "cutting its life blood — taxes — and not piecemeal." He favors restoring what he called "the New Hampshire advantage" of natural beauty, small government, no broad-based tax and a good education system." He is opposed to expanding eligibility for Medicaid, suggesting physicians and hospital provide more charitable care, and favors right-to-work legislation and parental choice in education as well as greater emphasis on vocational training.
Lisa DiMartino of Gilford, who won one of the four seats in the district in 2012, is the most experienced of the four Democrats on the ticket. A native of Brooklyn, New York, DiMartino has lived for the past 17 years in Gilford, where she was the children's librarian. The mother of a son born with a rare syndrome and autism, she has long championed the rights of those with disabilities and serves on the Governor's Commission on Disability. During her term in the House, she was a member of the Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee and has also served on the Suicide Prevention Council and Long-Term Care Committee. DiMartino strongly supports the expansion of Medicaid and favors investing in public schools and colleges to foster the skilled workforce required to strengthen the economy.
Dorothy Piquado and Nancy Frost, who both ran in 2014, are making their second bids along with newcomer Johan Andersen.
Piquado, a Canadian who taught abroad for 37 before retiring to Gilford in 2004 and becoming an American citizen two years later, was introduced to state politics by Frost's mother, Mary, a longtime Democratic activist. Calling herself an "idealist," Piquado favors universal health care and supports the expansion of eligibility for Medicaid. Likewise, she is a champion of public education who questions the emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics at the expense of the liberal arts, especially history, which hones critical thinking skills and fosters responsible citizenship.
Frost, who taught English as a second language in public schools in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, also worked in broadcasting news and health care marketing. Like Piquado, she has volunteered to teach at the Belknap County Jail. Troubled by the high cost of higher education, she favors measures to reduce the debt carried by graduates, including offering programs to enable them to refinance their loans.
Andersen, whose family traces its roots at Squam Lake back three generations, came to Gilford some 15 years ago after "many careers," including teaching at a private school and training heath insurance agents. "Health care " he said, "is a huge hot button for me." He recalled working with low income people for whom the cost of health care is "devastating." Andersen also retains a commitment to education and has taught as a substitute in the Gilford schools. In particular, he expressed concern that those with disabilities, especially children, need stronger legislative advocates to ensure they receive the services they require. Finally, Andersen called attention to the withholding of funds and transfer of costs to cities and towns by the state, which increases the burden on local property taxpayers.