Phil Spagnuolo and his daughter, Gabby, celebrate his victory at the 405 Pub in Laconia. (Rick Green/Laconia Daily Sun)
By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Phil Spagnuolo Jr., a Democrat, defeated his Republican opponent, Les Cartier, yesterday in a special election for state representative.
Spagnuolo, who defeated Cartier, 967-840, will succeed the late Rep. Don Flanders, R-Laconia in Belknap County District 3. Voter turnout was 17 percent.
Spagnuolo, a founding member of Navigating Recovery in Laconia, made the opioid crisis a focus of his campaign, saying he wants to be an advocate for people with Substance Use Disorder and wanted “to prove that people who've struggled in the past can go on to do great things.”
At his victory party at the 405 Pub & Grill, Spagnuolo said his first-hand knowledge about drug dependency seemed to resonate with voters concerned about this issue.
“I think people rallied because of my sincerity to make a difference,” he said. “Most people have concerns about the opioid crisis.”
On the campaign trail, that issue, and concerns about schools seemed to top voters' concerns, he said.
His first order of business when he gets to Concord, he said, will be to work to ensure that expanded Medicaid continues to help people who otherwise might not have access to medical care.
Cartier, a retired hazardous materials expert who worked for the state Fire Marshal's office, focused on jobs and economic growth in his campaign.
He said he met people during the campaign who are struggling to make ends meet.
“It was a great campaign,” he said at the City Clerk's office after the vote came in. “My opponent was good. It was a clean campaign with no negativity. We both heard the concerns of voters, and that's a win. It was a friendly campaign and I want to work with Phil.”
On Jan. 9, Cartier defeated William Henry Davies in a Republican primary that drew relatively few people to the polls. He won 96-37 to win the right to face Spagnuolo in Tuesday's election. Spagnuolo did not face a primary opponent.
Spagnuolo will be one of 400 members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. New Hampshire has the largest state legislature, by far, in the country.
Les Cartier, the Republican candidate in yesterday’s special election to fill Laconia’s open seat in the State House of Representatives, is shown here at center, chatting with supporters Alan Glassman and Jean Ferreira, at the Ward 6 polling place during voting on Tuesday. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)