09 12 Charlie St. Clair

Charlie St. Clair, campaigning for state representative, greets a voter as she walks into the Laconia Middle School on Tuesday, while Nick Taylor holds a campaign sign. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

Democrat Charlie St. Clair wins seat in NH House of Representatives; incumbent councilors advance in election


LACONIA — Local voters on Tuesday selected Democrat Charlie St. Clair, a member of the Laconia Planning Board and executive director of Laconia Motorcycle Week, to succeed Robert Fisher in the New Hampshire House of Representatives.

St. Clair defeated Republican Steven Whalley, owner of HK Powersports, 1,268 to 1,010. 

The opening in District 9, which takes in Laconia and Belmont, was created when Fisher, a Republican, resigned in a scandal over his creation of a website critical of women.

Meanwhile, in Laconia City Council primary races, the two incumbents facing primary challenges, Brenda Baer and David Bownes, both easily advanced to the Nov. 7 general election.

"I am overwhelmed,"said St. Clair, 67. "I thought I was a very long shot because few people vote in these elections and there are more registered Republicans in the district."

He said his victory validated his message that people should vote for the person and not the party and that many local issues transcend party politics.

In the municipal races, the top two vote-getters in each contest advanced to the Nov. 7 general election.

Baer, 91, the longtime incumbent councilor in Ward 4, received 130 votes. Her two opponents, Breanna Henderson, owner of the Polished and Proper barber shop, and Mark Haynes, facilities manager of the Laconia Clinic and Ward 4 moderator, tied for second with 80 votes each. City officials weren't immediately sure Tuesday night how the tie would be settled.

Baer has been a staunch advocate of sticking to the city’s property tax cap, while Henderson has called for greater flexibility in considering whether the cap should be modified at some point.

Baer said her support for the tax cap was the key to victory, along with attracting older voters many of whom "showed up to vote with their walkers and personal attendants."  

In Ward 2, Bownes received 121 votes and will face Richard Beaudoin, an electronics repair shop owner, in the general election. Beaudoin received 54 votes.  Leonard Miner, a produce purchasing manager and a member of the Laconia Board of Assessors, received 49 votes.

In Ward 1, the two candidates to advance to the general election were Susan Hodgkins, a real estate agent, and Bruce Cheney, a former Laconia police chief and the man largely responsible for developing the state’s 911 system. Cheney had 153 votes, Hodgkins had 104.

Cheney said he doesn’t have a specific agenda and doesn’t oppose growth, but wants to “maintain the Laconia we have all known for decades.”

Finishing third with 103 votes was Michael Foote, a member of the Zoning Board of Adjustment. 

Meanwhile, Mayor Ed Engler, Ward 3 Councilor Henry Lipman and Ward 5 Councilor Robert Hamel face no competition. Ward 6 Councilor Armand Bolduc is being challenged by restaurateur Reuben Bassett, but since there are only two candidates in that race, there was no need for a primary.

The vote
Special election for state representative for Belknap County District 9:

Charlie St. Clair, Democratic, 1,268 (winner)
Steven Whalley, Republican, 1,010

Laconia City Council primary election races

Ward 1:
Bruce Cheney, 153, advances to general election
Susan Hodgkins, 104, advances to general election

Michael Foote, 103, fails to advance

Ward 2:
David Bownes (incumbent), 121, advances to general election

Richard Beaudoin, 54, advances to general election

Leonard Miner, 49, fails to advance

Ward 4:
Brenda Baer (incumbent), 130, advances to general election
Breanna Henderson, 80
Mark Haynes, 80

09 12 Brenda Baer wins

Ward 4 Councilor Brenda Baer and her son, John, were all smiles at City Hall after vote totals showed she was the top vote getter in her primary race. (Rick Green/Laconia Daily Sun)

09 12 Foote Hodgkins Cheney

City Council candidates for Ward 1, Michael Foote, Susan Hodgkins and Bruce Cheney,  greeted voters on Tuesday morning at the Beane Conference Center. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

09 12 Steve Whalley

Steve Whalley, a candidate for state representative, talks with City Council candidate Michael Foote outside of the Beane Conference Center, the Ward 1 polling place, on Tuesday morning. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)