Fields Seeking sixth term in Belknap County District 4

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.
Dennis Fields
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.
Ian Raymond
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.
Tim Lang
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
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.

Familiar names, one new face in District 7 race

BARNSTEAD — The last names in Belknap County House District 7 race are familiar, Comtois and Marriott, but there is a new face in the race as Republican Barbara Comtois, the wife of current District 7 Rep. Guy Comtois, squares off against Democrat Bruce Marriott.
Her husband defeated Marriott 933-733 in this heavily Republican community in 2014.
Bruce Marriott
Marriott, the former Belknap County agricultural agent, says that he has experience in leadership and community service, having served for eight years as a selectman in Gilmanton before moving to Barnstead.
"Before retirement, I worked for the UNH Cooperative Extension, serving as statewide program leader for agriculture, managing budget and supervising 25 extension educators and specialists. I have also facilitated educational workshops in community leadership in New Hampshire and New England."
He is currently a trustee for Barnstead's Oscar Foss Memorial Library.
Marriott supports county funding for outside agencies, like the extension service, and expansion of the state's Medicaid program.

Barbara Comtois
Comtois, who grew up in Pelham, moved to Barnstead in 1998, and with her husband started Sticks and Stones Farm, which practices the hydroponic growing of fruits and vegetables and offers pasture-raised meats as well as a community supported agriculture program.
She home schooled her two sons and says she favors school choices for parents and state funding for charter schools but doesn't want to financial aid for home schoolers, maintaining that government aid would bring government controls.
Comtois said the county needs to look to attracting new businesses and needs more skilled workers and that there needs to be an emphasis on making more vocational programs available at the high school level.
She is opposed to the Medicaid expansion program and says she is opposed to broad-based taxes.

Fisher and Arsenault rematch in District 9

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — The race for the seat representing the city of Laconia and town of Belmont in the New Hampshire House of Representatives features a rematch between the Republican incumbent Robert Fisher, who has served one term, and Democrat Beth Arsenault.

Vote 2016Fisher manages the branch of Same Day Computer on Union Avenue and owns the firm's branch in Portsmouth. He first ran unsuccessfully for a House seat in Laconia as a Democrat in 2012 then, in 2014, as Republican, won the seat shared by Laconia and Belmont, topped Arsenault, the incumbent, by 276 votes. He serves on Criminal justice and Public Safety Committee.

Fisher, who is among the youngest members of the House, missed a third of roll call votes in the first year of his term and two-thirds in the second year and also missed meetings of the Belknap County Convention, has acknowledged that he was challenged to reconcile the demands of his job with the legislative calendar. He voted against expanding eligibility for Medicaid and said he would do so again. A strong supporter of the Second Amendment, he voted to repeal the requirement to be licensed to carry a concealed firearm. He favors right-to-work legislation and opposes any increase in the minimum wage.

Fisher said that if elected, he will continue to pursue legislation to prohibit utilities from requiring deposits from and issuing disconnect notices to customers whose payments may be late but whose accounts are current, an issue he sought to address in his first term. He also intends to address what he considers "inconsistent enforcement" by the New Hampshire Liquor Commission, which he said has hindered the operation and caused the closure of several bars.

Arsenault is running for her fourth term in the House. After twice running for the Senate, she won election to the House from Laconia in 2006, was re-elected in 2008, lost her seat in 2010 then two year later won the seat Fisher took from her in 2014. She served on the Children and Family Law Committee during her first two terms and on the Education Committee in her third term.

Arsenault, who served on the Laconia School Board for 17 years, considers sufficient and stable state aid to public schools among her highest priorities. She noted that state aid to the Laconia School District was reduced by more than $550,000 for this school year, with a cut of nearly $100,000 falling after classes had begun.

"State aid should be something you can count on," she said. "We must have a stable system with stable funding and not have to adjust to shortfalls during the school year." Arsenault supports reauthorizing the expanded Medicaid program, raising the minimum wage and sustaining the state's contract with Planned Parenthood to provide healthcare services for women. She believes the Legislature should restore funding in the form of revenue sharing and proceeds from the rooms and meals tax withheld from cities and towns.

Noting that Republicans hold all 18 seats in the House representing Belknap County, Arsenault said "we need more balanced, representative government in the county."

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