LACONIA — Presidential candidate Cory Booker, the former mayor of Newark, says municipal issues are not Republican or Democratic — an opinion shared by Laconia Mayor-elect Andrew Hosmer.
The two men met at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport on Friday and rode in a car for an hour to a campaign event at the University of New Hampshire. Booker spent the weekend campaigning in the state, where he hovers around 3 percent support in presidential primary polls.
In a telephone interview, Booker said he enjoys meeting with mayors and praised the work they do.
Booker, a U.S. senator from New Jersey, quoted former New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia: "There's no Democratic or Republican way to fix a pothole."
Hosmer, whose city has its fair share of potholes, met Booker through a mutual friend several years ago and renewed his acquaintance last year when Booker spoke to graduates of the U.S. Senate page program, including Hosmer’s daughter, Brigid.
“Some of the challenges and opportunities that Newark had are familiar here — growing the economy, helping schools improve, increasing housing stock,” said Hosmer, a former Democratic state senator who has met several of the candidates but has not made an endorsement.
“What I really like about Cory’s approach as mayor was use of analytics to evaluate data. That’s totally non-partisan work that mayors around the country have to do to identify and solve problems.”
Booker’s mantra as mayor was, “In God we trust. Everyone else, bring me data.”
He said data indicate an investment in infrastructure yields a greater return in enhanced financial growth.
He favors decriminalization of marijuana and he supports evidence-based approaches to substance misuse and homelessness.
To fight generational poverty, Booker proposes providing every child born in the U.S. with a baby bond savings account that could be used at age 18 for college, buying a house and savings for retirement.
“The best investment we can do is invest in each other,” he said.
He is proposing tax credits for renters, so that they can benefit from the tax laws in the way homeowners benefit from the mortgage interest deduction.
Booker and Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, authored legislation last year creating a federal economic development program intended to spur investment in low-income areas. A section of Laconia that includes the old State School property is one of 27 areas statewide nominated to participate in the Opportunity Zone program.
Booker said the U.S. needs to increase its investment in new technology.
“We used to be a global leader in research and development,” he said. “Public research dollars create breakthroughs that drive industries around the planet. Letting China out-invest us is unacceptable to me.
“China has 18,000 miles of high-speed rail. For us, it takes a half-hour longer to get from Boston to D.C. than it took in the ‘60s. This is the 56th anniversary of JFK’s death. Here’s a guy who challenged a whole nation when the Russians put up Sputnik.
“We’ve got to get back to that bold thinking with investment, not a future defined by the Chinese.”
He’s also a believer in the power of immigration.
“Demonization of immigrants has become a cheap fear-mongering way to build your base of support,” Booker said. “There is so much ignorance being whipped up. They have a great proclivity to start businesses, they have a lower crime rate, they create tremendous revenue. Fears and lies dominate our political discourse.”