MANCHESTER, N.H. – A focus on listening was at the core in the message from State Senator Dr. Tom Sherman as he talked to voters at a West Side event on Monday, comparing what he sees as his strength in listening compared to incumbent Republican Governor Chris Sununu.
Sherman, a Democrat completing his second term representing ten seacoast towns as a senator in Concord, touted that experience with listening, which he believed was crucial to building trust with patients over 30 years as a doctor and EMT as well as his efforts to build consensus on legislation with both Democrats and Republicans.
In contrast, Sherman saw Sununu as only listening to his own political interests, such as Sununu calling himself pro-choice shortly after signing the biennial state budget into law earlier this year despite language within the budget that included a ban on abortions after 24 weeks and other requirements for pregnant women seeking an abortion.
Sherman also criticized Sununu for taking credit on state funding initiatives that include federal funding such as the New Hampshire Emergency Energy Relief Program.
Sherman also criticized New Hampshire Department of Education Secretary Frank Edelblut, a Sununu appointee who he called “unprofessional” and “unqualified” for the position during a tenure where Sherman stated Edelblut has attempted to stigmatize the state’s teachers and has supported a lack of transparency in public funding that can go toward private schools in what Democrats have referred to as school vouchers and Republicans have referred to as school choice.
In his criticisms, Sherman painted Sununu as an obstacle to solving the problems he’s been hearing from voters around the state, such as increasing New Hampshire’s housing stock and providing childcare to employees.
With those two needs, as well as other initiatives such as diversifying the state’s energy portfolio with more renewable sources and reducing property taxes, Sherman saw usage of the state’s regular budget surplus as a funding mechanism while opposing an income or sales tax.
He also believed that New Hampshire should codify abortion protections into law, reinvest tax cuts given to companies not headquartered in New Hampshire toward services and tax cuts for companies that are headquartered in New Hampshire and repeal “divisive concepts” legislation that passed as part of last year’s biennial budget.
When it comes to Manchester and other cities around the state, he pledged to collaborate with local leaders to provide assistance from Concord, accusing Sununu of being an opponent to towns and cities rather than an ally during his time as Governor.
“Whether it’s Manchester, Nashua, or any of the other cities, we need a much stronger bond between the Governor (and the cities),” said Sherman. “The leaders of those cities need to make sure that they feel fully supported.”
“I think Sununu has not done a good job with that, he’s made it much more political. I don’t care who’s in office from which party, we need to make sure the people of New Hampshire are supported,” Sherman added.
Barring an unexpected write-in campaign from an unknown candidate, Sherman will be the Democratic Party’s nominee following the state primary in September, a fact Sherman says has made it easier for him to campaign with other Democrats across the state.
“(not having a primary) allows me to go and work with people up and down the ballot; Number One, to make sure that Democrats and Independents vote on the issues and we make sure the things that really reflect the values of New Hampshire voters get out; second of all, that up and down the ballot everyone has the resources they need to get their message out,” he said.