LACONIA — Mason Donovan, a Democratic candidate for state Senate, sums up his campaign platform with three words — economy, environment and education.
Donovan, 49, who lives on a 106-acre farm in Boscawen, is running for Senate District 7, facing incumbent Sen. Harold French, R-Franklin.
His Sept. 19 campaign finance report, the latest available, shows $41,865 in contributions, more than double what French has taken in.
Donovan’s contributions include $5,000 from The Dagoba Group, Donovan’s business consulting company. He also received $5,000 each from state Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth, and her husband, Dr. Geoffrey Clark.
He also received $4,000 from Washington-based Future Now USA, $2,000 from Service Employees International Union and $1,000 from New York-based Everytown for Gun Safety.
Donovan is a principal at The Dagoba Group, which is described on its website as “an integrated global diversity and inclusion consulting practice that helps leaders take tangible steps to enhance inclusion and optimize teams.”
“I go around the world, training corporate leaders to become more inclusive, to have more voices at the table and to better manage talent,” he said.
Donovan, a former selectman in Webster, did his undergraduate work at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia and holds a master’s degree in international business from Webster University in The Netherlands. He worked for Florida’s international commerce office and was based in Frankfurt, Germany.
In his spare time, he likes to hike. Donovan and his dog, Sophie, made it to the top of all 48 New Hampshire peaks of 4,000 feet or more in one year. He also likes to work on his farm, enjoying “quiet time” on his tractor.
Coincidentally, French’s father was the real estate agent on the deal in which Donovan purchased the farm, and one of French’s cousins hays it.
Donovan said he grew up poor in a family of eight children in Chelmsford, Mass. The family lived in a 2-bedroom, 1-bath home.
“We didn’t have a lot of money, so a local farmer allowed us to have a garden on his land,” he said. “From the moment the snow melted to the next frost we would tend the garden.”
He said he is running for state Senate because he feels the state is heading down the wrong course.
Donovan said that even though property taxes have been going up, public education is underfunded and the state struggles to deal with an opioid abuse crisis. Meanwhile, out-of-state corporations doing business in New Hampshire receive millions of dollars in tax cuts.
“Property taxes have risen 58 percent on average since 1999,” he said. “We’ve been overburdening property-tax payers. “People on fixed incomes have been forced out of their homes.
“About 56 percent of property tax goes toward education, but program costs have been going up and we’ve been cutting teachers. Also, every year since 2012, there have been record numbers of drug overdose deaths.”
He said the decision by state lawmakers to cut the business profit tax has hurt the state. This is a tax mostly paid by out-of-state corporations, while most in-state companies instead pay a business enterprise tax, he said.
Donovan said cuts to the business profit tax cost the state $120 million in revenue every budget cycle, resources that could be used to allow the state to provide a greater percentage of rooms and meals taxes to municipalities and to help defray municipal pension costs.
“We need to tie Concord back to localities,” he said. “We need the state to stop giving much-needed dollars away to Amazon and Walmart. They said cutting the business profit tax would draw more business in, but name a large employer that has come to our state because of the drop in the business profit tax.”
Donovan said the state needs to develop a brand, in the same way that Michigan is known for the automobile industry and Florida is known for aerospace.
That brand should capitalize on the state’s environmental beauty, he said.
“Our biggest resource is our environment. We have the cleanest body of water in Newfound Lake. Some 84 percent of the state is forested. We have the cleanest air in the United States.
“We can capitalize on that. We can create an economy out of renewables and recyclables and be known for that.”
“After we create a strategic brand, we can legislate policy to reinforce that, while retraining our workforce and paying a liveable wage.”
He said an “economic incubator” could be created in Franklin to grow new businesses. That city is planning a major river park to revitalize the local economy.
As new businesses start up, the state will attract more young people, or be able to encourage more young people to stay in New Hampshire, Donovan said.
Meanwhile, the state needs to make sure its environment is protected, he said.
“Let’s preserve it. We don’t want to become another Massachusetts, where farms have disappeared, there are strip malls everywhere and there’s a strain on infrastructure that we don’t need here.
“We have something pretty special. Let’s conserve and find ways not only to capitalize on it but to enjoy it and protect it for generations to come.”