LACONIA — After graduating from Suffolk University Law School in Boston, Andrew Hosmer worked in an extremely busy district attorney’s office in Springfield, Massachusetts.
His future wife, Donna, whom he met in law school, went to work at the Cleveland, Waters and Bass firm in Concord.
They were married in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and decided to leave their jobs on the same day, move to Laconia and join her family’s business, the AutoServ car dealership in Tilton.
Hosmer, 55, who has spent more than 20 years working in every department at AutoServ, never practiced law again, but did go on to become a founder of a drug recovery organization, a Democratic state senator, a lobbyist, a city councilor and now is running for mayor.
He seeks to succeed Ed Engler, who is not facing re-election. Republican state Rep. Peter Spanos is also running.
In an interview Wednesday, Hosmer recalled that his job at the district attorney’s office in Springfield, Massachusetts, was stressful.
“It is the busiest courthouse in Massachusetts, heavy caseloads, heavy workloads. It tends to take its toll,” he said. “It made me appreciate the value of public employees and the work they do.”
He grew up in West Springfield. His mother, Eileen, was a schoolteacher, and his father, Robert, returned from the battlefields of Europe to work in New England paper mills.
Hosmer’s views on substance misuse have evolved from his time at the district attorney’s office in the 1990s, the days of mandatory minimum sentencing and the scourge of crack cocaine.
“The face of substance use disorder was different for me after having lost two people, employees at AutoServ,” he said. “That got me thinking long and hard about opioids and what was going on in our community. It really shifted my views.”
He became one of the founders of Navigating Recovery of the Lakes Region.
Hosmer was elected to the state Senate in 2012, representing District 7 as a Democrat from 2012-16 before Republican Harold French defeated him by a razor-thin margin.
A lobbyist with Preti Strategies in Concord, Hosmer was appointed by the City Council to serve out the remainder of the term of Ward 6 Councilor Armand Bolduc, who died on April 1, 2018.
Fellow councilors Bob Hamel and Mark Haynes were among those in attendance in Rotary Park near City Hall when Hosmer announced he was running for mayor.
His Preti Strategies bio said he was the prime sponsor of a “first-in-the-nation bill repealing sub-minimum wages for the disabled, a bill that modernized investment vehicles for domestic insurers and legislation addressing critical updates to New Hampshire’s trust laws.”
According to VoteSmart.org, during his time in the state Senate, Hosmer voted against bills to:
— Repeal buffer zones around abortion clinics (HB1570).
— Repeal permit requirements for concealed carry of firearms (HR582).
— Require a person to live in the state for 30 days to be eligible to vote (SB4).
— Increase the minimum wage (SB261)
He voted in favor of bills to:
— Authorize casino gaming (SB113).
— Require certain political organizations to disclose individual contributors (SB120).
— Establish a buffer zone around abortion clinics (SB319).
— Repeal the death penalty (HB1170).
Questions and Answers
Why are you running for mayor?
Part of my makeup is to always look for opportunities to give back to my community, whether serving in the Senate, non-profit boards, coaching sports in the city. I hope it sets a good example for my four kids. Second, I am really appreciative of the past 18 months on the City Council and to see the work that my fellow councilors and mayor have done. It is inspiring to sit with people with different perspectives on issues and different ideas who settle challenges and in a nonpartisan and civil manner and come to compromise. I have gained a great appreciation of not only the elected officials, but also the full time staff throughout the city.
I’m excited to take that experience and look to the future of our city. The future is as bright and filled with opportunities as I’ve ever seen in 25 years here. Economic development opportunities downtown, in Lakeport, at the old State School property are exciting and perhaps transformative to our city.
The opportunity to work with a new school superintendent is exciting. He brings energy and professional credibility to the table that is only going to help our schools.
I think what the city needs right now is a mayor who can take all these opportunities and bring the message that Laconia is poised for growth, is open to everyone and we’re moving beyond the days when people looked to the city and just criticized its shortcomings and challenges.
What would be your main priorities if elected?
Performance zoning allows us to be flexible and support entrepreneurs. Our students are being prepared for the jobs of the 21st century at the Huot, at the high school, at the community college. If we can give employers candidates they need, we have to look at what housing looks like. Good schools will attract people, but housing that is appealing to growing families, people who want to put down roots, will be critical in the development of the city. It is also going to provide tax revenue to the city, which will be appreciated. Appealing housing, education and economic development are three big priorities, and so obtainable.
What makes you qualified for the position?
I bring a breadth of experience over a professional career and in public service as a senator and a councilor, which is extraordinarily helpful. I have a good understanding of state government finances and unfunded mandates and how that relates to what is going on in the city level. I take pride in the organizations I’m involved in, Holy Trinity School, Navigating Recovery, the Belknap Mill, Belknap Economic Development Council.
What are the main problems the city is facing?
I spend a lot of time riding a bike and driving a car. This winter was particularly challenging with infrastructure. We need to continue to improve surface transportation and everything underneath — water, sewer and electrical. It’s long overdue. Postponed maintenance has economic and quality of life impact. We are doing a pretty good job, but I want more roads improved and want it done faster. Second, if we want younger people to stay in the city after their education is complete, we need to give them appealing housing options and provide a quality of life as well, with things such as the WOW Trail and development of theaters. We don’t want Laconia to be viewed as a stodgy old city that hasn’t changed in 50 years, but rather a great place to work and raise a family.
We have to focus on evidence-based solutions to the opioid epidemic, a collaborative effort that needs to be strengthened by the health care community, the hospital, behavioral health services, other substance use disorder groups. That’s an issue we can’t take our eyes off. It’s taken too many lives already.
What are the city’s main opportunities going forward?
Go around the country and talk to folks faced with the same challenges. When we compare Laconia with its airport, hospital, technical center, three beautiful lakes and our sense of community, which I think is second to none, we have so much going for us and other communities around the country would love to have some of these community foundational elements. We have them we just need to find a way to harness, energize and capitalize on opportunities. I know we can do it and it is exciting.
Does Laconia need change?
It is a changing world. Either we harness change and capitalize on it, or we are going to fall behind. We can look at housing options in the city. If millennials and professional people want appealing housing options and we are not supporting an environment where this can be built, then we need to change. There has to be constant assessment.