Democratic candidate for governor, Molly Kelly, flanked by State House candidates Charlie St. Clair and Carlos Cardona, speaks before a group of retirees at the Union Diner in Laconia on Wednesday, Sept. 26. Seated, from left, Herb Ainsworth of Belmont, Steve Burris of Gilford, Peter Wright of Gilford, Bill Cott of Gilford, Andre Brochu of Gilford and Ed Heath of Laconia. (Adam Drapcho/The Laconia Daily Sun)

LACONIA — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Molly Kelly spent about a half-hour in the Union Diner Wednesday, telling customers she would look out for their interests if they give her the job now held by Republican Chris Sununu.

In the first booth she approached, Jimmie and Kathleen Smith, a retired couple from Alton, waited for breakfast. They usually vote Republican, but when Kelly got done with them, they said they would vote for her.

Kelly spent about half her time talking about her ideas and accomplishments, and the other half deriding Sununu.

“My priorities are putting people first,” she said. “The current governor puts corporate special interests first.

“The governor supports a school voucher program. I don’t. Vouchers take money from public schools and move it to private and religious school. This weakens public education. I want to strengthen public education.

“I want to make sure we create jobs, good-paying jobs. People come home and put food on the table and say, ‘I did that.’ It’s about dignity and respect.”

She returned often to a discussion of public education as she made her way around the diner, calling it “the wisest investment with the greatest return.”

Kelly approached a table where a man introduced his group as “The Romeo club – Retired Old Men Eating Out.”

One of those men, Steve Burris, of Gilford, expressed dissatisfaction with most politicians.

“We don’t seem to have at any level of government a concern about what is best,” he said. “As soon as you become elected, your main concern is getting re-elected.”

Kelly said her concern is with the working men and women of New Hampshire.

“I don’t believe paid family medical leave is a vacation,” she said. “It’s about being with people you love the most when they need you the most, whether that’s a newborn, an elderly parent or your children. Our governor calls it a vacation. That’s out of touch with working families today.”

She spoke of her days as a single mother, raising children ages 3, 6, and 7, while working to put food on the table and studying to earn college degrees.

She worked her way through Keene State College, managing the family dorms, waiting tables at a pizza restaurant and delivering newspapers. She then graduated from Franklin Pierce Law Center and worked as a financial adviser.

Kelly won a seat in the New Hampshire Senate in 2006 and was re-elected four times. She received 65.7 percent of the vote in this year’s party primary to defeat opponent Steve Marchand.

“I know the struggles that working families face,” Kelly said. “That's who I am and that's what's important to me. We need to open doors and possibilities.”

Outside the diner, she talked about the U.S. Senate confirmation hearing of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

She urged Sununu to withdraw his support for Kavanaugh, who is facing a sexual assault allegation for an incident that occurred when he was a 17-year-old high school student, and a second such allegation for an incident that occurred while he was in college. A third woman also came forward Wednesday to allege sexual misconduct.

“I've been very clear from the very beginning,” Kelly said. “I have not supported that nominee because of his record.

“Now that we have all of these credible allegations, that's become even more difficult.

“I listen to the women and I trust the women and these are credible allegations. There’s no reason to rush the confirmation hearings.”

On the subject of energy, she said she supports efforts to produce local, renewable power such as solar and hydroelectric.

“I’m not taking corporate dollars,” she said. “My agenda is to produce clean energy and put people and the environment first. Our governor has put the agenda of Eversource first.

“We need to wean ourselves from fossil fuel and moved to renewable energy.”

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