To The Daily Sun,
About four years ago, Hunter Taylor, my neighbor and friend, began removing himself from the pleasures of retirement to delve into Belknap County issues. When I say delve in, what I mean is a deep dive, immersing himself in the details of the major questions confronting our county.
The issue of most personal interest to me was the jail. Long before Hunter Taylor became a Belknap County commissioner, at a time when he was a fairly obscure ordinary citizen, he started to look into the county jail issue. At the time, the then commissioners had proposed a $42 million jail project, the cost of which would be borne by all of us. Hunter thought that price tag sounded wildly excessive, and began to look into what had been done in other parts of New Hampshire, and other states, in recent years. The piles of paper he amassed on this topic eventually led him to the conclusion that Belknap County could build a new corrections facility, with all the programs essential to reducing recidivism and combating substance abuse, for a fraction of the $42 million proposal.
During this period of time, Hunter talked endlessly about what he was learning, and he educated the rest of us, sometimes a bit more thoroughly than we wanted. He also went to many meetings, and communicated with knowledgeable people by phone and via email.
But it did not stop there. In April 2014, my wife and I were planning a trip to North Carolina, expecting to visit with family and relax. Hunter had other plans for us. He had been in touch with the planners of a new jail facility in Wilkes County, North Carolina, and arranged for us to visit the facility, meet with some of the officials involved, and take photos. So, off we went, and spent most of a day getting a tour of the new jail facility, talking to people there, and taking photos. It was an odd way for us to spend some of our vacation time, but Hunter assured us that it would be very helpful to his research on the best and lowest cost jail that would work for Belknap County. And I like to think that our small contribution was indeed helpful.
Hunter Taylor may be a policy wonk, but he's my policy wonk. Thinking back to the amount of time and effort he expended as an ordinary (or perhaps not so ordinary) citizen in studying the Belknap County jail issue, long before he had any official role to play, I am truly impressed.
The people of Belknap County could not find a harder-working or more dedicated commissioner, and that is why I plan to vote for him on Sept. 13. He is a sincere representative of the people, always with their best interests in mind.