State Senate candidate Daniel C. LeClair said he’s taking his cues from the voters he’s met on the campaign trail — and so far, the biggest issue they’ve identified is the opioid crisis.
He touched on that topic and others, including education and equal parental rights, during an interview with Sentinel editors ahead of the Nov. 6 general election.
LeClair, a Swanzey Republican, is running for N.H. Senate District 10, which covers the city of Keene, as well as the towns of Alstead, Chesterfield, Gilsum, Harrisville, Hinsdale, Marlborough, Nelson, Roxbury, Sullivan, Surry, Swanzey, Walpole, Westmoreland and Winchester.
He’ll face incumbent Sen. Jay V. Kahn, a Democrat from Keene who is running for his second term, and Libertarian candidate Ian Freeman of Keene.
In LeClair’s view, part of lawmakers’ roles in stemming the opioid crisis should be to make it easier for law enforcement to apprehend drug dealers. In the past, he’s criticized the state’s “Good Samaritan” law, which grants certain immunity to people who report drug overdoses.
“When somebody has an overdose, I think it’s very imperative that the police officers are able to question the people that have overdosed and find out where they’re getting the drugs from,” LeClair said.
LeClair previously worked as a police officer in Winchester for four years; he now owns DCL Custom Construction in Swanzey.
He also praised a plan announced by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu and the state health department in August to create nine regional “hubs” for coordinating treatment and services for people struggling with substance misuse. The system would be supported by $45.8 million over two years funded through a federal State Opioid Response grant.
LeClair said, if elected, another of his legislative priorities during his first term would be to co-sponsor a bill related to equal shared parenting. In 2014, about 82.5 percent of custodial parents were mothers and about 17.5 percent were fathers, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
From his perspective, the visitation time afforded to noncustodial parents is not adequate for those parents to have a positive impact on their children, he said.
“An equal shared parenting bill would say, ‘Hey, guess what, it’s a presumption of 50-50 equal shared parenting — both parents have equal time with their child unless there is some type of abuse or neglect or drug abuse, something along that lines,’ “ he said.
LeClair has three children, according to his campaign website.
Asked about addressing high property taxes, LeClair pointed to the possibility of legalizing marijuana or opening a gambling facility in the Granite State, creating additional revenue streams to ease the property tax burden.
“All the states around us — Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts — they’ve all legalized marijuana,” LeClair said. “And if you’re able to legalize marijuana, regulate it and tax it, you could use the taxes raised to be able to put towards schools and education, which would in turn lower your property taxes.”
He said he considers marijuana to be less dangerous than alcohol, but noted that he wants to learn more about the potential community impacts that legalizing it or loosening restrictions on gambling could have.
On several topics, from funding public education to bolstering mental health resources, LeClair emphasized the state should prioritize spending for programs that are most needed while also keeping costs low for the taxpayer.
“A lot of times it’s not about more spending,” he said. “It’s about restructuring — restructuring the programs that you already have.”