NEWMARKET, NH – With about a year left until voters head to the polls to determine Granite State’s next governor, a candidate known well by local food lovers but not by Granite State politicos is throwing his hat into the ring.
Former Newmarket town councilor, local restaurateur and Democratic activist Jon Kiper is seeking the party’s gubernatorial nomination, spurred on by a variety of factors.
One of the biggest issues is his desire to address how the state and its municipalities look at revenue. During his time on Newmarket’s council, he says he learned that there are a variety of factors that create a level of unfairness in the amount of services received compared to the amount of property tax paid.
He fears that if this is not addressed, the property taxes on his restaurant, Johnny Boston’s International, may become too high for him to pay. He is seeking a new approach for property owners in municipalities that have been treated unfairly.
“This is a system that was built a long time ago when property values were not so high and the disparity between the rich and the poor was not so high,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s the rich paying less and the poor paying more.”
Kiper says that this unfairness has a trickle-down effect on municipalities ranging from education to building enough housing for New Hampshire’s population.
He believes the best way to lower property taxes is adjusting other state taxes, capping taxes at the local level and reducing loopholes for larger corporations and richer residents not paying a fair amount for the services they use.
If this can happen, Kiper says it would be a significant boon to the state economy.
“A lot of people, especially Republicans, talk about bringing business to New Hampshire, but you can’t start a business if you can’t afford to put your business anywhere or if your potential workers can’t afford to live nearby,” he said.
On the issue of housing, he also supports simplifying zoning laws, having seen hurdles to development firsthand serving on Newmarket’s Zoning Board of Adjustment.
“It’s gotten so complicated and convoluted in the process to create housing. There’s a million ways anyone can say no at any point, but it seems like no one is realizing we’re in an emergency situation,” he said.
More housing is needed not just to help residents struggling to pay rent or mortgages or help those who have lost their homes, but also to attract skilled professionals who keep New Hampshire’s economy functioning, Kiper says. One key example of those needed professionals is nurses, who will become even more vital as the state’s population grows older.
“People talk about raising the minimum wage, we don’t even need to raise the minimum wage if we can just make it that so many people don’t have to pay over 30 percent of their wages every month on housing,” he said.
He says the state should hold a greater responsibility for funding local education and New Hampshire should approach how its government functions ranging from reassessing needless bureaucracy in the state’s liquor laws to more funding for programs getting victims of substance abuse back into the workplace to creating government-run small homes for the state’s homeless population. However, he doesn’t believe older politicians in power now would willingly listen to innovation and more young people need to run for office.
“We have fresh ideas and we can approach these problems, but we need to wake up to the fact that older generations will never give up the reins,” he said.
Kiper says he’s unimpressed with the two current Democratic candidates for governor, Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig and Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington.
Along with property tax equity, Kiper says a lack of ideas from both Democrat candidates and particularly Warmington’s past as a lobbyist for pharmaceutical companies that were found to promote opioid drugs they knew were unsafe are triggers for his decision.
“I don’t actually really want to be governor, it’s a hard job and it’s annoying to run every two years, but I feel like I have to run because New Hampshire is not going in the right direction and no one is even talking about these issues.”
More information on Kiper’s campaign can be found at votekiper.org