Voters in Cheshire County Tuesday left most incumbents in their posts in the N.H. House. But there were upsets in a couple of races.
Cheshire County’s 23 House seats have been mostly Democratic since at least 2012, yet statewide, Republicans held the majority in the legislative chamber in the past session.
Of the 19 Cheshire County incumbents in Tuesday’s midterm elections, two lost their seats — both Republicans.
In District 12, four candidates vied for two spots representing Richmond and Swanzey.
Republican Rep. James W. McConnell and Democratic Rep. Barry Faulkner faced challenges from political neophytes Jennie R. Gomarlo, a Democrat, and David A. Pierce, a Republican. All are from Swanzey.
Gomarlo topped the ballot with 28.79 percent of the vote, about 4 points ahead of Faulkner in second place.
Faulkner beat McConnell by 0.34 percent — just 21 votes.
McConnell, who was first elected in 2014, told The Sentinel this morning that he plans to request a recount. McConnell will have to send a written request and a $10 fee to the N.H. Secretary of State's Office by Friday.
"It’s clear it’s a tiny fraction of the vote, so we’ll see," he said.
Faulkner said this situation is familiar — he and McConnell tied in a prior race, and McConnell came out ahead by three votes after a recount.
Faulkner noted he respects McConnell’s work in the House.
“It’s not a bitter contest by any means,” he said. “... Recounts are certainly an interesting and exciting part of the process if it happens.”
Faulkner also commended Gomarlo for her appeal with voters.
“It shows how valuable a personal touch is. A lot of people know her,” he said. “… First-timer and she’s top of the ticket: That’s a good thing.”
Gomarlo has said she plans to address income inequality, food insecurity and health care. She’s also said that increasing employees’ pay to “a living wage” could have long-reaching effects and solve some of those issues she’s passionate about.
Four Democratic incumbents will continue to represent Chesterfield, Hinsdale, Walpole and Westmoreland.
Republican Kate Day of Spofford lost her bid to unseat either Michael D. Abbott of Hinsdale, Paul S. Berch of Westmoreland, Cathryn A. Harvey of Spofford or Lucy McVitty Weber of Walpole.
Day received 2,336 votes, or about 14.8 percent of the 15,791 votes cast in the race. The other four candidates each tallied more than 3,200 votes.
The district has not had a Republican representative since 2010.
Voters in Alstead, Marlow and Surry re-elected Democrat John E. Mann to a fourth term Tuesday. Mann defeated Republican challenger Anne Cartwright 908-716, taking about 55.9 percent of the vote.
Cartwright served one term in the N.H. House from 2011 to 2012, representing the same district. She lost a re-election bid to Mann in 2012 and has run unsuccessfully as the Republican nominee in each election since.
Longtime Rep. Daniel A. Eaton of Stoddard, a Democrat, won his 15th term in the House over Republican Robert D’Arcy, also from Stoddard.
The district covers Gilsum, Nelson, Stoddard and Sullivan, and Eaton won every town, for a total of 916 votes to D'Arcy's 690.
Democrat David Morrill held a strong lead over Libertarian David Crawford in the race to represent Keene’s Ward 1, ending the night with 974 votes to Crawford’s 173.
The seat has been vacant for the past few months. Joseph Stallcop, a Libertarian, was elected to the post as a Democrat in 2016, but resigned in August after moving out of District 4.
No one challenged Democratic Rep. John Bordenet to continue to represent Keene’s Ward 2 in the House. He received 1,475 votes for re-election.
Democratic Rep. David R. Meader also ran unopposed for his seat, which covers Ward 3 in Keene. Meader tallied 1,391 votes.
Alexander H. “Sparky” Von Plinsky 4th will represent Keene’s Ward 4 in the N.H. House. The Democrat and political newcomer defeated Libertarian Robert Call 1,398 to 244, with just over 85 percent of the vote.
The seat opened after Rep. Gladys Johnsen, a Democrat finishing her fourth term, announced earlier this year that she wouldn’t seek re-election. Johnsen cited her health and the death of her husband, Melvin W. Morgan, in January as factors influencing her decision. She endorsed Von Plinsky.
First-term incumbent Donovan W. Fenton successfully defended his seat against a challenge by John W. Therriault, chairman of the Cheshire County Republican Committee. Fenton, a Democrat, earned 1,576 votes to Therriault’s 661, or 70.45 percent of the votes in Keene’s Ward 5.
Two Democratic incumbents, Richard Ames and Douglas Ley, will head into their fourth terms in the House over a challenge by Christopher Mazerall. All live in Jaffrey.
Ames and Ley represent Dublin, Harrisville, Jaffrey and Roxbury in the district.
Mazerall earned 25.61 percent of the vote to Ley’s 35.84 percent and Ames’ 38.55 percent. The race came the closest in Jaffrey, which also has the most voters: Mazerall ended up just 6 percentage points behind the top candidate there.
Democrat Sandra L. “Sandy” Swinburne of Marlborough swept the race to represent Marlborough and Troy in the N.H. House, defeating Republican Ed Bryans, also of Marlborough.
Swinburne received 1,020 votes to Bryans’ 633, or 61.71 percent of the vote.
The district’s current representative, Democrat Marjorie J. Shepardson, announced early this year that she would not seek re-election. Shepardson, of Marlborough, served three terms in the House and said she wanted to take some time for herself and her family.
Shepardson endorsed Swinburne to succeed her.
Two incumbents successfully held their seats in this district, fending off challenges from across the aisle, to continue representing Fitzwilliam and Rindge.
Republicans John B. Hunt and John O’Day, both from Rindge, earned 29.87 percent and 25.83 percent of the district’s vote, respectively.
Democrats Patricia A. Martin of Rindge and Susan S. Silverman of Fitzwilliam each finished with about 22 percent. They fared better in Fitzwilliam, however, where Silverman trumped the other candidates with 27.76 percent of the vote, and Martin ended neck-and-neck with Hunt.
Incumbent Henry A.L. Parkhurst, a Democrat, successfully defended his seat from Republican challenger Chester Lapointe 2nd. Parkhurst won, 763-538, earning 58.65 percent of the vote in a district that covers Winchester.
By a narrow margin, Republican Franklin W. Sterling Jr. of Jaffrey, who is wrapping up his fourth term in the House, lost his seat to political newcomer Craig R. Thompson, a Harrisville Democrat who earned 50.84 percent of the vote.
Thompson received 3,671 votes to Sterling’s 3,550.
The district covers Dublin, Fitzwilliam, Harrisville, Jaffrey, Rindge and Roxbury.
Thompson moved to Harrisville in 2011 and runs Mayfair Farm there. He said this morning that he stayed up until about midnight waiting for results from the district and was relieved when Dublin’s votes put him ahead.
He said he expected a tough race because Rindge voters lean conservative and Sterling is a well-known incumbent.
“There was never any question in my mind. I knew all along that it would be hard to win,” Thompson said. “Because of that I started early. I had my first campaign events in May.”
He encouraged more political newcomers to run for office but said they should prepare for hard work.
“I’m a father of two young kids and running a business; that’s a hard thing to do when you’re trying to do those things,” he said. “… (But) there’s a real need for young voices and young perspectives in New Hampshire.”
Some of the top issues Thompson plans to address include the opioid crisis, tuition costs, teacher pay and the property tax structure.
Rep. Bruce L. Tatro, D-Swanzey, is headed into his fifth term in the House after beating Stephen K. Malone, a Swanzey Republican. Tatro received 3,579 of the district’s 6,253 votes for the post, or 57.24 percent.
Cheshire House District 15 covers Marlborough, Richmond, Swanzey, Troy and Winchester.
Joe Schapiro and incumbent William A. Pearson, both Democrats, came out on top in the race to represent Keene’s five wards. Libertarian Darryl W. Perry fell behind with 1,034 of the city’s 13,039 votes in the race — less than 8 percent.
The district covers all of Keene’s five wards.
Schapiro, who will be a newcomer to the House, walked away from September’s primary election with an easy win, earning nearly twice as many votes as Pearson. In doing so, Schapiro managed to unseat fellow Democrat Delmar D. Burridge, who was vying for his fifth term in office.
Schapiro is a clinical social worker and had never run for public office. He is a founding member of the Keene Immigrant and Refugee Partnership, and he serves on the ethics committee at Cedarcrest Center for Children with Disabilities in Keene.
He’s said he plans to address education, health care and methods of generating revenue in the state.
State representatives are elected to two-year terms.
This article has been updated to include the final results from Cheshire District 3.