To The Daily Sun,
The League of Women Voters recently invited all Republican and Democratic candidates for New Hampshire House from the Gilford-Meredith district to participate in a debate. The entire Republican slate turned down the invitation. Finding that rather strange, I checked the voting records of the two Republican incumbents heading the Republican ticket, Glen Aldrich and Herb Vadney. If the voting records of these two men speak for the ticket, there is little wonder that the slate wanted to avoid public discussion of the issues.
Our Belknap County representatives vote in Concord on statewide issues, and in their capacity as the County Convention, they vote on issues specific to Belknap County. In particular, they vote on the county budget every year.
With regard to votes in Concord, a crucial area of legislation in the past year has been attempts to address the drug crisis, with four major pieces of legislation passed by overwhelming bipartisan vote. And how did these two Belknap County Representatives vote on the four bills? Rep. Aldrich voted against all four, and Rep. Vadney voted against three of the four. Together they showed a complete indifference to solving the drug problems affecting New Hampshire. Did they think the epidemic has not come to Belknap County? Do they not care?
With regard to votes at the county level, Reps. Aldrich and Vadney voted to reduce the recommended funding to Community Action Program, which funds Meals-on-Wheels, medical transportation to needy seniors, companionship to shut-ins, family planning and prenatal care. They voted to reduce recommended funding to the Cooperative Extension, which provides assistance in agriculture, forestry and wildlife and supports the 4-H clubs. Mr. Aldrich and Mr. Vadney voted to reduce recommended funding to the Conservation District, which helps Belknap County communities conserve natural resources for the benefit of all. They voted to reduce the recommended funding for Genesis Behavioral Health, which provides mental health treatment. They also voted to reduce funding to the Economic Development Council, which works to develop our local workforce, attract new business, provide business advice and financing, and support entrepreneurs. They even voted against a bill sponsored by Jeanie Forrester to implement a system of care for children with behavioral issues, to address these problems before they reach the crisis stage.
In view of the fact that more than 70 percent of the Belknap County jail inmates suffer from substance abuse and/or mental health problems, these supposedly fiscally responsible Representatives will cost the county taxpayers a lot more in the long run by pushing the problems down the road.
What these votes in both Concord and Belknap County have in common is a failure to address the needs of our county and our state, whether in addressing the drug crisis or in providing crucial services to Belknap County citizens. These votes also share a short-sighted view of cost, sometimes known as penny-wise, pound-foolish.
Reps. Aldrich and Vadney fail to recognize that spending some money on solutions to the drug problem will save money in the long run that would otherwise be spent on increased police and incarceration needs, added burden to the health care system, and lost productivity. They fail to recognize that providing services such as Meals-on-Wheels will keep seniors in their homes longer, which is both preferable to these seniors and a cost-saving measure to the county in the long run. They fail to recognize that preserving the natural resources of this Lakes Region will improve not only the quality of life here, but also the tourism trade.
So it is easy to see why the Meredith Republican slate (which is running as a slate and thus must be seen as supporting the votes of the two incumbents), chose not to face the public in an open debate with their Democratic opponents. They might have been asked some tough questions about their votes in Concord, and they might also have been asked some tough questions about their votes in Belknap County.
Some people might attack these votes for a lack of compassion, which they clearly demonstrate. My own criticism of the votes is that they show an inability to deal with the present and plan for the future of Belknap County in any meaningful and rational way.
I will be voting for Lisa DiMartino, Johan Anderson, Nancy Frost and Dorothy Piquado on Nov. 8.