Three state Senate races in the Nov. 3 election involve multiple Monadnock Region communities.
In District 10 (which covers Alstead, Chesterfield, Gilsum, Harrisville, Hinsdale, Keene, Marlborough, Nelson, Roxbury, Sullivan, Surry, Swanzey, Walpole, Westmoreland and Winchester), Sen. Jay Kahn, a Democrat, is facing Swanzey Republican Daniel LeClair in a rematch of the 2018 general election.
Democrat Kahn first won the seat four years ago, after a brief stint on the Keene City Council. Previously, he spent decades as an administrator at Keene State College, including as its interim president and its longtime vice president of finance. Kahn has also been a fixture on the boards of some of the area’s nonprofit groups and institutions, including Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene and Monadnock Economic Development Corp.
In the Senate, he’s proven to be a very adept legislator, getting things done by seeking out stakeholders and finding out what can be done, rather than what can’t. His successful effort to allow municipalities to issue bonds for broadband infrastructure seemed at first a modest step forward, but has proven far more than that. Town after town has partnered with Consolidated Communications to build out broadband access.
Kahn also sponsored a change in the law to allow health care workers in neighboring states faster access to jobs in New Hampshire. That’s an especially important change given the current health crisis.
LeClair is a former Winchester police officer and security guard, who now runs his own construction firm. Two years ago, we felt he was unready for the Senate, and that if he really wanted to participate in governing, he ought to first try local office, or even a House challenge. Indeed, he’s since run for and won a seat on the Monadnock Regional School Board.
This time around, he seems to have a firmer grasp of pertinent issues, and a decidedly libertarian bent. Asked what his first piece of legislation would be to aid the state’s pandemic recovery, he proposed what would have to be a constitutional overhaul that would ban the government from having any say over businesses, churches and organizations. LeClair’s contention is that the social-distancing protocols implemented by the governor are an illegal overreach that should never be allowed again.
The district continues to be very well-served by Kahn’s consensus-building approach, and we urge his re-election.
In District 8 (which includes the Monadnock Region towns of Acworth, Antrim, Bennington, Langdon, Marlow and Stoddard), incumbent Republican Ruth Ward of Stoddard again faces Democrat Jenn Alford-Teaster of Sutton.
Ward, a retired nurse and paralegal, won the seat in 2016 and defeated Alford-Teaster, a research project director at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, two years ago.
As was the case two years ago, the candidates share some key positions — or, at least, they are not far off. Alford-Teaster is pro-choice, while Ward supports abortion in cases of rape or when the mother’s health requires it. Both are anti-death penalty and against recreational marijuana legalization. Both support gun-owner’s rights, with one major point of contention: Ward would not allow school districts to create gun-free safety zones.
Another split is in their views on education. Ward is an adamant backer of school vouchers, saying public funding should follow the student, including to private schools. On the other hand, she co-sponsored a bill to fully restore stabilization grants to school districts. Alford-Teaster is a booster of public schools, which Ward has referred to as “government schools.” Alford-Tester also backs family medical leave and increasing the minimum wage, two issues Ward has helped tank while in office. And Alford-Teaster advocates measures to deal with climate change, an issue on which Ward continues to say the science is inconclusive.
While Ward has exhibited some progressive positions for a generally conservative lawmaker, we still feel Alford-Teaster offers the state, and the district, a better opportunity to move ahead.
District 9 pits incumbent Democrat Jeanne Dietsch of Peterborough against Bedford Republican Denise Ricciardi. The district includes Dublin, Fitzwilliam, Greenfield, Hancock, Jaffrey, Peterborough, Richmond and Troy, among other towns.
Dietsch is a founder of several tech firms. She cofounded the MAxT Makerspace, Greenerborough 2.0, and MVP Special Olympics team. She’s been a member of Peterborough’s economic development authority and the N.H. Rural Affairs Commission, the Peterborough ZBA and ConVal School Board. As a first-term legislator, she wasted no time in pushing bills related to firearms safety, solar energy, waste reduction, education, drug pricing, affordable housing and election reform — and more. She’s offered several tweaks to the state’s tax and revenue streams and has been an advocate for the disenfranchised.
Ricciardi, the former owner of an insurance-related small business, is also vice chair of the Bedford Town Council. She started Bedford Cares at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to help Bedford residents that were immunocompromised and couldn’t leave their homes. Her priority is lowering taxes for businesses, along with getting rid of regulations on businesses.
Ricciardi seems bright, energetic and hard-working. She might indeed be an asset to the Statehouse. It’s her misfortune to be up against someone who shares those traits and has already demonstrated how well-suited they are to legislating.
We urge voters to support Dietsch.
This editorial has been changed to reflect that Jenn Alford-Teaster lives in Sutton, which was confirmed by her campaign but not listed in Secretary of State candidate filings.