One incumbent and three first-time candidates for the N.H. House are seeking two seats in Hillsborough County’s 38th District, which includes the local communities of Antrim, Bennington, Greenfield and Hancock.
Jim Bosman, a Francestown Democrat and retired educator, is hoping for his second two-year term representing the district, which also covers Francestown, Greenville, Hillsboro, Lyndeborough, Wilton and Windsor. The other Democratic nominee is Stephanie Hyland, a yoga instructor and former teacher who also lives in Francestown.
The Republicans seeking office in the district are Riché Colcombe, who retired in 2018 from a career in the HVAC business and lives in Hillsboro, and Jim Creighton, a retired colonel in the U.S. Army who now lives in Antrim and owns two small businesses.
Here’s a look at the field:
Bosman, 73, spent his career as a teacher and school administrator, the last 15 years at Souhegan High School in Amherst. Since retiring in 2008, he has volunteered as a court-appointed special advocate for children who have suffered abuse or neglect and served on the Francestown Zoning Board of Adjustment.
He won a seat in the Legislature in 2018 and said he decided to run again before the COVID-19 pandemic hit New Hampshire. But the coronavirus outbreak, and the state budget shortfalls it likely will cause, only intensified Bosman’s desire for another term, he said.
“I think that the state needs to pay attention not only to people’s well-being and their health and what’s going on, but they’re going to have to take a look at how they’re going to be able to balance the budget,” Bosman said. “And it’s not going to be easy.”
Bosman added that he fears the state will cut funding to programs that serve “people that don’t have a voice, really, in Concord,” such as children and homeless people, and people who have lost their jobs during the pandemic.
“So that’s one reason [why I’m running],” he said. “I just think that I want to be there to lend my voice and defend those people that are going to suffer the most.”
Bosman also said changing the state’s public-school funding formula would be a top priority for him if he wins another term.
“The state has ignored its responsibility for the last 30 years,” he said. “The [N.H. Supreme] Court made it very clear that it’s the state’s responsibility to provide an adequate education for all students, no matter where they live. And the Legislature just hasn’t been able to make much headway on that.
“... So, we need to be honest and have honest conversations about revenue and how we’re going to manage the rising cost of education,” he continued, adding that the state needs to provide a source of revenue for schools that isn’t largely tied to local property taxes, the way the system currently operates.
Colcombe, 54, moved to Hillsboro in 2016 from Wales, Mass. She retired two years later after a 25-year career with an HVAC company called EMCOR Services New England Mechanical, where she worked her way up to the position of vice president and general manager of the Albany, N.Y. office.
Since retiring, she has volunteered extensively throughout the state, including serving on the boards of Back in the Saddle Equine Therapy Center in Hopkinton and the Greater Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce and as an alternate trustee of the Fuller Public Library in Hillsboro.
Colcombe said she and her husband decided to retire to New Hampshire because of its limited taxes, and she decided to run for office when she saw that the state’s tax structure might change.
“What got me passionate about it had to do with the threats of the income tax, the sales tax and all of the different tax bills that are out there,” she said in an interview Tuesday. “I started to get concerned over the fact that I moved to a state that I thought was going to be retirement-friendly, and then it was turning into something that wasn’t so retirement-friendly.”
Colcombe said her top priority in the Legislature would be preventing any new taxes. She also said education is another issue that she would like to work on in Concord.
“Not every child learns the same way, so I would like to see there be a more diverse education system that meets the needs of the student and the parents, rather than the traditional public school classroom,” she said. “So I am in favor of charter schools; I am in favor of trade schools.”
Specifically, Colcombe said she would review a $46 million federal grant to expand New Hampshire public charter schools, which a Democratic-led state legislative committee has voted against. Democrats on the state’s fiscal committee who voted against the funding said it would have strained the state’s existing public education system, according to a report in the Concord Monitor.
“I would look at that grant closer and find out what were the terms in that grant, what are the restrictions in that grant,” Colcombe said. “And I would probably start there to find out what money’s available.”
Creighton, 60, graduated from the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., in 1982 before embarking on a 30-year career in the U.S. Army. He retired in 2012 as a colonel, and in his last year served as a brigade commander overseeing 6,000 people in two provinces in Afghanistan.
After retiring from the Army, Creighton took a job as the chief operating officer of the EastWest Institute, a New York-based nonprofit focused on international conflict resolution. Creighton said he would bring all of this experience with him to Concord.
“I left home when I was 17 years old in 1978, and I’ve been serving ever since. And I just look forward to continuing my service in a different way,” he said in an interview Monday. “... I have a background in service. I have a background in communication and working with people to get things done, even when they don’t agree.”
Like Colcombe, Creighton and his wife decided to retire to New Hampshire because of its economic advantages, such as a “great tax structure for operating two small businesses,” he said. The couple built a house in Antrim in 2014 and moved there full-time in November of 2015, Creighton said. He now owns and operates two small businesses — Eagle Point Global Solutions, a leadership and security consulting firm, and Ursa Major Northeast Guides, a wilderness adventure and leadership company.
Creighton said his top priority, if elected, would be helping to foster an economic environment to reopen businesses safely during the COVID-19 pandemic and promote new businesses into the future. He added that he wants to work with local business leaders and constituents “to figure out how to get businesses to open up such that young people want to stay in New Hampshire, that new people want to come to New Hampshire to work.”
On education, Creighton said he’s a proponent of expanding options for children, such as charter schools. He also said he would support accepting the $46 million federal grant to expand the state’s public charter schools.
Hyland, 33, moved to Newton from Malden, Mass., in early 2018 before settling in Francestown in June 2019. The West Virginia native worked as a special education teacher in Massachusetts and began working as a yoga instructor after moving to New Hampshire. She opened her own studio, Live Free Yoga in Epping, though the COVID-19 pandemic has forced her business to transition to online-only classes.
Hyland said her experience in special education and her perspective as a millennial would be her unique contribution in Concord.
“Understanding childhood development and mental health development is something I’m really passionate about and something I would like to offer,” she said.
Hyland said she believes the state should provide more funding for public education, instead of leaving local towns to fund schools largely through property taxes.
“The way it’s set up right now, it leaves our property-poor towns with much higher, unequal taxes,” she said. “And it makes living in these areas increasingly unaffordable.”
Hyland said there’s no single solution to fixing the state’s school-funding formula, but that the issue should be a top priority. She also said she would focus on expanding broadband access in rural areas if she wins a seat in the House.
“I think what’s really going to be a meaningful change is going to be expanding and updating broadband Internet access so that we can really encourage remote learning and working during this time,” Hyland said, adding that she has personally experienced slow and unreliable Internet in Francestown.
Hyland also said she cares deeply about environmental issues and would support legislation to incentivize clean-energy production, such as increasing net-metering limits for homes and businesses that generate solar energy, with the goal of making New Hampshire carbon-neutral by 2030.