A special election

Community members campaign for Democrat Andrew Maneval and Republican Rita Mattson, to fill a vacant Cheshire County House District 9 seat, outside the polling location at the Jaffrey Fire Department on Tuesday evening.

Andrew Maneval will be Cheshire County House District 9’s newest state representative after winning Tuesday’s special election.

Maneval, a Harrisville Democrat, secured an easy victory over challenger Rita Mattson, a Dublin Republican, with a tally of 1,209-655. Maneval was victorious in each of the district’s four towns: Harrisville, Dublin, Jaffrey and Roxbury.

“I just love these communities, these four towns, and I can’t tell you how much help I got from people who are in positions of ... government, but from all other kinds of people. Neighbors and friends and just people coming out and being willing to canvass or phone or just talk to their friends,” Maneval said Wednesday morning. “It was an incredible group effort.”

In Jaffrey, the most populated of Cheshire 9’s four towns, voters chose Maneval by a vote of 542-396, and in Dublin, the district’s next largest community, Maneval won, 327-172. Harrisville voters also favored Maneval, with a vote of 308-74, while in Roxbury, the smallest town in the district, Maneval won 32 votes compared to Mattson’s 13.

The special election was held to fill the seat left vacant when former Rep. Douglas Ley, D-Jaffrey, died in June following a battle with cancer. He was first elected in 2012 and served as the House majority leader from 2018 to 2020. Ley was re-elected to a two-year term in the House that started in January, and Maneval will serve out the remainder of that term. District 9 is also represented by Rep. Richard Ames, D-Jaffrey.

“I want to express my heartfelt thanks to the voters of Jaffrey, Harrisville, Dublin, and Roxbury,” Maneval said in a news release Tuesday night from the N.H. House Dems Victory Committee. “I realize that I have some pretty big shoes to fill in taking this seat, and I am going to make every effort to live up to that responsibility. I want the people who voted for me, and also those who didn’t, to know I am going to go to work for all the people of Cheshire 9.”

In a written statement Tuesday night, Rep. Renny Cushing D-Hampton, who succeeded Ley as the House Democratic leader, congratulated Maneval on the victory.

“Tonight is a somber night as we continue to think of and mourn the passing of former Democratic Leader Doug Ley,” Cushing said. “We know and voters emphatically agreed that [Maneval] is the right man for the job to carry out Doug’s legacy fighting the good fight for working people across the state.”

In a special primary election held in September, Mattson easily overcame her Republican opponent, Jaffrey resident Lucille Decker, to advance to Tuesday’s general election. Maneval ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Both candidates ran unsuccessfully for house seats in 2020. Maneval ran in the Cheshire County House District 14 race, where he lost to Rindge Republican Matthew Santonastaso, and Mattson ran in Cheshire District 9, falling short against Ley and Ames.

Maneval, 68, is a New Jersey native who has lived in the Monadnock Region in 2008. He studied economics at Earlham College in Indiana before earning a law degree from Fordham University in New York City and spent his career working in both the legal and business sectors, ultimately launching Chesham Consulting in Harrisville.

With a long history of public service under his belt, including stints on the Harrisville selectboard, planning board, zoning board and in the town’s emergency management office, Maneval said he’d like to apply his experience in local government to the Statehouse. Some of his priorities include working to invest more in public education, lessening the tax burden for property owners and working to increase New Hampshire’s involvement in the fight against climate change.

Maneval also said he has dealt with the state’s housing shortage while serving in Harrisville as a member various public bodies. The housing issue, he said, isn’t just a problem of keeping a roof over someone’s head; it affects the whole economy, making it harder to attract workers to the area.

He’s also an opponent of the state’s school voucher program, which launched in August and allocates funds for students that can be used at schools outside of the public education system, including private schools. Maneval said he’s concerned the program could not only hurt the public school system but also increase the burden on property taxpayers.

“I think we’re going a little bit in the wrong direction here on taxation,” Maneval said in an interview earlier this month. “We put so much of a burden on property taxes. And maybe once upon a time, many, many years ago, property taxes would have been a relatively progressive form of taxation, but it sure isn’t now. It’s a terrible burden to people on fixed incomes, or older people, and it certainly discourages younger people with less resources to come into, and buy houses in, the region and the state.”

Mia Summerson can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1435, or msummerson@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @MiaSummerson