A Republican has thrown his hat into the ring to represent Cheshire County residents on the state’s Executive Council.
On Wednesday, Jim Beard, 65, of Lempster, announced his intention to try to unseat first-term Councilor Andru Volinsky, D-Concord.
Beard is the only declared candidate thus far for District 2, although Volinsky said he’s planning a formal announcement of his own candidacy. District 2 covers six cities and 43 towns, including Acworth, Alstead, Charlestown, Chesterfield, Dublin, Gilsum, Hancock, Harrisville, Hinsdale, Langdon, Keene, Marlborough, Marlow, Nelson, Roxbury, Stoddard, Sullivan, Surry, Walpole, Westmoreland and Winchester.
“I’m running because the council will be stronger with my presence,” Beard said Wednesday afternoon. “My extensive business background will help focus the council on economic development.”
Beard said he wants to represent District 2 because more jobs are needed in the region.
“I believe we are overlooked out here in the hinterlands, and I want to change that focus,” Beard said. “I want to have more vocational and technical training offered in the area. I want our young people to get good jobs. Not everybody needs or benefits by going to college.”
Beard said he’s still working out the details of his platform on these and other issues, including on renewable energy production and farmland preservation.
“These are the broad strokes of my campaign,” he said.
As for his background, Beard said he’s been a licensed pilot since 1971, and served as a vice president for sales and marketing for worldwide airplane manufacturing firms such as Brazil-based Embraer Air until his retirement in 2012.
Volinsky had no comment Wednesday about Beard entering the race, but did confirm his intent to seek a second term.
“I will be making a formal announcement in the spring,” Volinsky said. “I love this job. If you’re intellectually curious, this is the best place to be.”
The Executive Council is the state’s executive body that oversees fiscal matters, including the state treasury, and approves the appointment of judges and commissioners for state departments. It also acts as a check on the governor’s power, among other responsibilities.
“It is a very broad palette,” Volinsky said. “It’s a lot of work, but very rewarding.”
Beard ran unsuccessfully for N.H. Senate District 8 in 2016, narrowly losing to Republican Ruth Ward of Stoddard in the primary.
Beard garnered 2,609 votes to Ward’s 2,618. Ward went on to defeat Democrat John Garvey of New London in the general election, and represents 24 communities, including Acworth, Antrim, Bennington, Langdon, Marlow and Stoddard.
Each of New Hampshire’s five executive councilors represents one-fifth of the state’s population, or about 263,000 residents. Councilors serve two-year terms, running concurrently with the governor. In 2015, each councilor received a salary of about $16,070, according to the state’s employee salary database. The councilor representing District 1 also received a $9,000 expense stipend while other councilors received $6,000 for expenses.
State primaries are scheduled Sept. 11, ahead of the Nov. 6 general election.