O P I N I O N
Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.
Election Day is coming up and when you head into the voting booth on November 8 the names at the top of the ballot will be very familiar to you, mostly because of the barrage of TV ads and mailings you have seen over the past few weeks.
But I would like you to take a minute to consider the names toward the bottom of the ballot, the ones who don’t have million-dollar ad budgets, the ones who are running for the state legislature.
I am one of them.
If elected, I will be one of 400 State Representatives who spend considerable time in Concord laboring through hundreds of bills in committee meetings and legislative voting sessions, and I will be paid $100 per year plus mileage.
So why am I doing it? I’m not trying to make a name for myself. At 65 I’m not exactly rising star material. And clearly, it is not for the money.
I’m doing it because I think it is important and I recognize how lucky I am to be old enough to be retired and healthy enough to take it on. I’m also doing it because I believe in Democracy. You can’t have a representative government if no one is willing to serve as a representative. Most of the people I know who are running would say the same thing.
The other reason is that many important issues are decided at the state level. The amount of money the city gets from the state has an impact on our property taxes and the quality of our public schools. Medicaid expansion is up for reauthorization this term. Thousands of our Manchester neighbors who find themselves out of work or don’t make enough to purchase insurance through the ACA, could find themselves without access to health care.
During the last session, when Republicans couldn’t get bills passed to restrict abortion, or create a school voucher program, or mandate a restriction on teaching “divisive concepts,” they snuck them into the budget. You can be assured that these items will be back on the agenda in the next session to make them permanent. These are not the things that will improve the quality of life for Granite Staters and are not what the legislature should be focused on.
Finally, the state gets to determine the rules for voting. We should be making it easier for citizens to participate and have their voices heard. The erosion of voting rights we have seen over the last few years is very troubling. Our vote is our greatest tool for holding our elected officials accountable. Without it we can’t call ourselves a democracy.
Manchester has 33 state representatives, two for each ward and the rest in multi-ward floterial districts. Most of us who are running are knocking on your doors and leaving our palm cards in order to introduce ourselves.
If we come by, please take a minute to talk with us. We don’t do this just to get your vote, we do this to understand the needs and concerns of the people we may be going to Concord to represent. If you aren’t home when we knock, please look at our literature and use the contact info provided to reach out to us with questions.
Democracy is a great system, but it requires some work on the part of its citizens. Thomas Jefferson may have been kind of a jerk about some things, but he had great faith in ordinary citizens. In 1789 he wrote to his friend Richard Price, “Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.”
I hope you will take a few minutes to look into us down-ballot candidates before election day. You can access the sample ballot for your ward here. Find out who is running and check them out.
I hope that by pointing these things out, you will be encouraged to get out and vote. I will be at the polls for most of the day on Election Day. If you live in Ward 5, I hope to see you at Beech Street School.