Primary candidates in New Ipswich were quizzed on their positions on abortion and education, including concepts such as critical race theory or ‘concepts of division’, at a candidates’ forum at Mascenic High School on Tuesday.
The event was not a debate, but offered the candidates the opportunity to express themselves on their platforms and answer questions from the public. It featured statements from candidates for the new House seat in Hillsborough District 32, with three seats representing Wilton, Temple and New Ipswich, as well as two gubernatorial candidates and a U.S. Senate candidate.
All of the candidates who spoke at Tuesday’s forum will be on the ballot for New Ipswich voters in the state’s next primary election on September 13.
The top winners will be on the ballot for the state’s general election on Nov. 8.
In the Republican primary ballot, the race for District 32 of Hillsborough will be contested, with incumbents Jim Kofalt of Wilton and Diane Kelley of Temple, as well as Shane Sirois of New Ipswich and Philip Andrews of New Ipswich.
Andrews did not attend Tuesday’s forum, but asked a representative to read a statement written by him. In his statement, Andrews said he was running in response to what he saw as government overreach over the past few years.
“When people are more afraid of their government than of its enemies, a change in leadership is needed. Over the past two years we have seen what can happen with rampant government, government that can issue emergency orders with the stroke of a pen and without accountability,” Andrews wrote.
Kelley was pressed to vote in March, when she was one of 13 lawmakers to vote for a proposal for New Hampshire to secede from the United States. When asked if she would cast the same vote again or if she would support secession from the United States, Kelley replied that there were circumstances where she would, saying that the federal government had “bothered “.
“We have the right to govern however we want, and I don’t want what’s happening in Washington right now,” Kelley said.
Kelley and the rest of the Republican candidates were asked about their views on abortion following the repeal of Roe v Wade. All said they were pro-life candidates who believe life begins at conception. Sirois attributed his position to his faith.
Several candidates also detailed their belief in medical freedom, including Kofalt, who said he was against vaccination mandates and was one of the co-sponsors of a bill to make ivermectin, a antiparasitic drug that has become researched as a potential treatment for COVID-19, despite not being cleared or approved by the FDA for this use, available in pharmacies.
When asked if there was a disparity between their advocacy of medical freedom and their views on reproductive rights, Kelley and Kofalt had a similar response – that there is more than one individual right at stake.
“You have every right to do whatever you want with your body, but when you’re pregnant, another body is involved,” Kelley said. Asked about exemptions, such as in cases of rape, or when the fetus is not expected to survive, Kelley said that in “extreme” cases, there could be a legal process for exemptions.
Kofalt focused on his voting record during his time in the House, noting in particular his votes to cut taxes, including the room and board tax, and a plan to phase out tax on interest. and dividends.
Republican candidates have also focused on protecting Second Amendment rights.
“I’m a huge gun advocate,” Sirois said.
Kofalt pointed to his voting record and endorsement by the National Rifle Association, saying he was a strong supporter of the Second Amendment.
Sirois also spoke about concerns he had with the school curriculum, including critical race theory and topics of sexuality and gender, which he said were “brainwashing” children.
“Leave your personal life in your bedroom and teach the program,” Sirois said.
Charles Page of New Ipswich, who will not be on the primary ballot but is running for the House as an independent and will be on the November ballot, also spoke, noting he was a “rather conservative” candidate “. Page said he was against vaccination mandates and said he didn’t think the decision to get a COVID-19 shot should be forced on anyone.
Asked about the resurgence of diseases previously eradicated in the United States, such as polio, and their recent resurgence, Page said the polio vaccine had undergone a years-long verification practice absent from the COVID-19 vaccination process. 19, and called the push to vaccinate “alarmists”.
On the Democratic side, there are three candidates in Hillsborough District 32: Michael DeLoria of Temple, Richard Swanson of Wilton and Kermit Williams of Wilton.
Williams, a former state representative for eight years, said his House experience was an asset. A former trade committee member, Williams said he wants to return to the same kinds of bills he used to approve, with a focus on helping small businesses. He pointed to previous bills he had worked on, such as allowing breweries and wineries that didn’t also have a restaurant to sell glasses of their product, and an attempt to adjust insurance payments for body work, which he said was a barrier to small auto shops hiring workers.
“I think experience matters,” Williams said.
Williams said that on big issues, an individual representative has little power to “change the world,” but they could help make small changes that would be very important to those affected.
DeLoria said her decision to run for the seat was a direct result of Kelley voting to secede from the United States.
“I think first and foremost that we’re all Americans,” he said.
DeLoria said he had experience with state assistance, grew up in foster care, and lived four months homeless, despite having a college education and a Bachelor’s degree. He said that for a period of about a year and a half, he and his wife needed help, such as food stamps, to get by. Although he no longer receives the assistance himself, he said he understands that people need this help sometimes and that his policies will be “focused on helping people get out of these holes”. .
“Any legislation I vote on will be based on the fact that it’s going to help people,” he said.
Asked about abuse of the welfare system, DeLoria said there was always abuse of any system, but he believed it was a small fraction of those using the system legitimately.
Asked about divisive concepts, DeLoria said he disagreed with ‘blaming people for things they had no part in’ but said it was important to teach the country’s history. On gun control, DeLoria said he himself is a gun owner and believes in the right to bear arms, but said he would support some control measures. , including safety course requirements, sanity checks, or magazine capacity restrictions.
Swanson spoke more broadly about his interest in social issues, including education, noting that good school systems not only attract residents, but also businesses.
“Education is at the top of the list,” Swanson said.
Swanson said teachers needed higher pay and said he disagreed with the “censorship” of what they taught in the classroom, referring to banning “concepts which divide”.
“Teaching history is about critical thinking and difficult concepts,” Swanson said.
Swanson said he’s also concerned about rising energy costs and the need for cleaner energy solutions in the state. He also said he thinks the state could do more to provide health care options and said he would work to protect abortion rights in the state.
Karen Testerman and Thaddeus P. Riley, two of the five candidates running against Gov. Chris Sununu in the upcoming Republican primary, also spoke.
Like their House counterparts on the Republican ballot, Testerman and Riley were also asked about their stance on abortion. Riley said he would be a pro-life governor, and “If a bill comes to my desk, it’s a pro-life bill, I’ll sign it,” but that exceptions should be made when the the mother’s life was endangered by the pregnancy.
He said he wanted to create a state where there were “incredible options” for pregnant women to access assistance.
Testerman said she was “strongly pro-life.” and that she was running to “put God back, not just in New Hampshire, but in America, again”, and said that God should be put back “in schools, in our homes and in our state”.
Asked about the concept of separation of church and state, Testerman said everyone has the right to practice the religion he believes in, but said that should not mean complete separation.
“There are divine principles upon which our country is founded,” Testerman said.
Testerman said she would work to expose voter fraud and reduce reliance on federal dollars in the state, including conducting an audit of all federal dollars coming into the state.
Riley said he would be a “conservative outsider”, who “is about fighting for the good” and will stand up to the “woke crowd and the media”.
Also on the ballot for the Republican primary are Sununu, Julian M. Acciard, Jay Lewis and Richard A. McMenamon II. State Senator Tom Sherman is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172 ext. 244, or [email protected] She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.