Candidates make a final pitch to Cheshire County voters
Jaffrey Selectman Don MacIsaac asks candidates for state representative in Cheshire County District 14 and District 9 if they will make restoring a state-aid grant to help fund Jaffrey's new wastewater treatment facility a top priority, if they are elected.
(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
Nearly 50 voters turned out Tuesday night to hear from six candidates, who are vying for three seats in the state's House of Representatives.
(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
JAFFREY — Six candidates for seats in the state’s House of Representatives made a final pitch to voters Tuesday during a Candidates’ Night, co-sponsored by the Jaffrey Chamber of Commerce and the Jaffrey Woman’s Club.
The event drew a large crowd of voters, who came ready with questions for the Cheshire County District 14 and District 9 candidates on a wide range of topics, including education, job growth, state grants, health care and increasing county costs.
During the nearly two-hour-long event at the Jaffrey Woman’s Club, a few voters and the three Democratic candidates — Harry Young, Dick Ames and Doug Ley, all of Jaffrey — also took the opportunity to question Republican incumbents Frank Sterling and Charlie Moore, both of Jaffrey, about their voting record and what opponents called a lack of bipartisanship in the current House.
Sterling and Young are competing for a seat in the newly configured District 14, which includes Jaffrey, Rindge, Fitzwilliam, Dublin, Harrisville and Roxbury. For District 9, which includes Jaffrey, Dublin, Harrisville, and Roxbury, there are two seats available. Ames and Ley represent the Democratic ticket, while Moore and former state Representative Ray Desmarais are on the Republican ticket.
One of the first voter questions Tuesday night came from Jaffrey Selectman Don MacIsaac, who asked the candidates whether or not they are committed to restoring $6 million in state-aid grant money promised to the town nearly five years ago. The grant was supposed to cover one-third of the construction costs for Jaffrey’s $18 million wastewater treatment facility, but since 2008 the state has dramatically reduced funding for the program.
Each candidate told MacIsaac that the issue is an important one for Jaffrey and that he will advocate to recoup those funds. Ley, who has lived in downtown Jaffrey for 20 years, said his wastewater and water bills in the 1990s were one-third of what they are today.
“I not only know the issue, [but] I pay the issue,” he said.
While candidates from both sides of the political isle made a pitch for education funding, not everyone agreed on how it should be funded or the steps for getting there.
Too many of New Hampshire’s college graduates leave the state after earning their degree because there are no jobs for them here, Sterling said. He added that offering incentives to businesses so they stay or relocate to New Hampshire is key to job creation in the state.
But Young, Ames and Lay called out Sterling and Moore on the recent cuts in state aid to New Hampshire’s public universities and noted that college education costs are some of the highest in the country.
Amidst the political attacks and disagreements between the parties, however, Chandler “Tuck” Gilbert of Jaffrey told the candidates to put the issues aside for a moment, asking, “What does it mean to be a state representative?”
While each candidate differed slightly in his response, all admitted one thing: They don’t know all the solutions. Input from voters and fellow legislators, they said, is a critical part of the political process and what will keep New Hampshire moving forward.