Telegraph Publishes Candidate Surveys

The Telegraph published responses to a survey sent to all local candidates in today’s edition (November 3, 2018).  The responses were published as they were submitted.  Candidates not included in the special supplement did not respond to the survey.  Among the five candidates running for three seats in this district, Paul R. Bergeron, Ray Newman, and incumbent Rep. Sue Newman responded.  Michael McCarthy and Michael A. Balboni did not.  Following are my responses to the survey:

STATE REPRESENTATIVE

Candidate’s Name: Paul R. Bergeron

Political Party: Democratic

Office Sought: State Representative, Hills. 29 (Nashua Ward 2)

Brief Biography:
A native of Nashua, Paul R. Bergeron retired from his position as Nashua’s City Clerk in 2015 after nearly 16 years of service.  Currently, Paul is an Adjunct Faculty member at Nashua Community College in the Department of English and is a member of the Nashua Library’s Board of Trustees. Previous experience includes 17 years in retail management (including eight years in the family’s former menswear store, Bergeron’s, Inc., on West Pearl Street).

Paul’s history of community service includes serving: on the City’s Cultural Connections Committee (formerly the Ethnic Awareness Committee) from 2003 – 2015; on the Rivier College Advisory Board from 1975 – 1976 and again from 1982 – 1989; as past president of the Heart of Nashua Foundation, an earlier downtown business and professional association (1982 and 1984); and on the Nashua Children’s Association Board of Directors from 1980 – 1983. He also has legislative experience as a State Representative (Municipal and County Government Committee, 1973 – 1974).

A graduate of Bishop Guertin High School, Paul was awarded Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in English from the University of New Hampshire. He conducted additional studies in English at Texas A&M University and in Business at Boston College and received his Master of Education degree from Cambridge College.

 Paul is married, has two daughters and four grandchildren, and has lived in Ward 2 for the past 13 years. His parents, Ann T. (Hansberry) Bergeron and the late Robert P. Bergeron, were also Nashua natives.

Why are you running for this office?
I am running for State Representative because I believe that our children are entitled to a quality public education and that the state must meet its court-ordered obligation to support our public schools; I support efforts to ensure that those who have the right to vote may do so; I support policies that will improve the quality of our workforce, strengthen our infrastructure, and enhance public transportation; I believe that common sense should tell us that guns have no place in our schools; and I care about strengthening families and giving people tools to determine the direction of their lives.

What makes you uniquely qualified for this position?
My career experience includes 21 years in municipal government, more than 15 years in retail management, and time in the classroom as a high school teacher and college adjunct faculty member. I have a good understanding of the issues that are important to my constituents, including the need for a stronger and safer public education system, the need to maintain existing revenue streams to the municipalities, and the need to consider the impact that legislative actions will have on small business owners. As a former State Representative I have experience navigating through the Legislative process in Concord. I am a registered Democrat, and I had the pleasure of serving in the Nashua and Manchester City Clerk’s offices under four Republican mayors. I believe in bipartisanship, and I believe that I can fairly represent all my constituents in Ward 2 regardless of party affiliation. This background, I believe, makes me uniquely qualified for the position of State Representative.

Deadline to Register to Vote Before the Election is Oct. 27. NH Also Offers Same Day Voter Registration.

New residents who wish to register to vote may do so Monday through Friday from 8 am until 5 pm at the Office of the City Clerk, 229 Main Street. The City Clerk will also be open on Saturday, October 20th and again on Saturday, October 27th between the hours of 9 am and noon for the purpose of voter registrations. However, October 27th is the last day the City Clerk may accept voter registration applications or make corrections to the checklist prior to the State General and Special Municipal Election on November 6, 2018.  New Voters will also be able to register at the polls on Election Day.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense Rally Held at City Hall

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was the featured speaker at a Moms Demand Action rally held at City Hall on Saturday, October 13th prior to the start of a Democratic Party canvassing effort in the city later that morning.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is a grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence. Moms Demand Action campaigns for new and stronger solutions to lax gun laws and loopholes that jeopardize the safety of our families. Moms Demand Action has established a chapter in every state of the country and, along with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Students Demand Action and the Everytown Survivor Network, it is part of Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country with more than 5 million supporters and more than 350,000 donors.

During his remarks Bloomberg said, “We’ve got to send a message to elected officials. Vote for commonsense gun laws or we will throw you out.”

Photo: Among the local candidates for State Representative who were recognized for their support and involvement in the Moms Demand Action movement in this area were Ward 1 Representative Jan Schmidt (D), second from left, and Ward 2 Representative Sue Newman (D), third from left, both of whom addressed those in attendance.

 

We Are Moving on to November!

Thank you to all Ward 2 voters who turned out to cast their ballots in the NH Primary Election, Tuesday, September 11th.  Official results have been released by the Secretary of State.

My congratulations to Sue Newman and Ray Newman who will be joining me as the three Democratic candidates for State Representative who will appear on the NH General Election ballot in November.  I also wish to congratulate Jordan Thompson who finished fourth by just 31 votes.  Jordan ran a positive, enthusiastic, high-effort campaign that helped energize the race and which will certainly carry us forward into November.  Jordan has a bright future in elective politics, I am sure.

My thanks, also, to my Republican friends who wrote my name in for the vacant, third nomination spot on the Republican Primary ballot.  I believe that whoever wins in November has a responsibility to listen to your concerns, help solve problems, and serve as a link to your state and county governments.  If elected, I promise to do my best to do so for all my constituents.

Again, thank you for your support during the NH Primary Election.  Next up: the November 6th NH General Election.

OFFICIAL RESULTS (an asterisk [*] denotes the nominees who will appear on the November ballot:

Democrats: *Sue Newman, 610. *Paul R. Bergeron, 399. *Ray Newman, 384. Jordan Thompson, 353.

Republicans: *Michael McCarthy, 400. *Michael A. Balboni, 348. *Paul R. Bergeron, 40.

How to Check Your Voter Registration or Absentee Ballot Request Status

The NH Secretary of State provides an online tool that allows NH residents the opportunity to see if they are registered to vote, to determine what their political party affiliation is, and — if they applied for an absentee ballot – what the status of that process is. In addition, the site provides links to contact information for your city or town clerk and identifies the location for your polling place. If you want to verify your voter registration status, go to: https://app.sos.nh.gov/Public/PartyInfo.aspx

Why I am Running for State Representative

I am running for the state legislature because I believe in fairness and the obligation of the government to protect the most vulnerable among us.

I am running for the state legislature because I believe that our children are entitled to a quality public education and that the state must meet its court-ordered obligation to support our public schools.

I am running for the state legislature because I support efforts to ensure that those who have the right to vote may do so and to broaden voter participation, not restrict it.

I am running for the state legislature because I support policies that will improve the quality of our workforce, strengthen our infrastructure, and enhance public transportation, including rail service.

I am running for the state legislature because common sense should tell us that School Boards should have the right to ban guns from school buildings and property, except for those carried by law enforcement personnel.

I care about strengthening families and giving people tools to determine the direction of their lives.

I retired from my appointed position as Nashua City Clerk, after 16 years of service, in 2015. This is my first campaign for office since then, but it is not my first time running for elective office. I served in the NH House of Representatives in 1973 – 1974, was elected to the NH Constitutional Convention in 1974, and during the 1980s had two unsuccessful campaigns as the Democratic nominee for State Senate in District 14.

I graduated from Bishop Guertin High School in 1968, and the events of that year certainly shaped my political views and focused my political energies. 1968 was the year of North Vietnam’s Tet Offensive, of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination, of Russia’s invasion of Czechoslovakia, and of Black athletes protesting at the Summer Olympics by raising their fists during the National Anthem. That June, our graduating class of 18-year-olds knew that some would be going to Vietnam, and not all might come home. And at 18, we did not have the right to vote.

The values of today’s Democratic party are not that different from those of the 70s and 80s. We believe in giving those who are in need a hand up, not a hand out. We believe in quality education. We believe that voting is a right and responsibility and not a privilege. We believe in fighting for the rights of women and minorities. We believe in expanding access to affordable housing. And we believe in, and embrace, the strength of diversity.

As a boy, I remember hearing residents conversing in restaurants, in stores, on buses, and in their workplaces in a variety of languages – French, Greek, Italian, Spanish, and Polish. Today, I know people who have emigrated to the United States, and I believe in their right to feel safe, to enjoy their liberties, and to achieve their aspirations and dreams for themselves and their children…just as our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents dreamt for us.

These values are not just abstract ideals; they are also personal. My 89-year-old mother is able to live independently in the home she has owned for over 60 years because of government-funded assistance programs. I have a daughter and son-in-law whose family moved out-of-state in search of a better public education for their children and more affordable housing. I have a five-year-old granddaughter who described to me the safety drill she and her classmates had – hiding in a closet – in case “a badman came with a gun.”

Why am I running for the office of NH State Representative? Because I believe that we need to stay true to what makes New Hampshire, and its people, great. And because I think that, together, we can make a difference.

Families Belong Together: Greeley Park Rally

On June 30th, hundreds of thousands of people across the country, in more than 700 cities and towns, gathered to protest President Trump’s decision to separate children from their parents being held in detention at the border. And although the Administration signed an order that ended family separations prior to the date of the rallies, there remained concerns about reuniting the more than 2,000 children that were already separated from their families, about the question of indefinite retention, and about the President’s call to ignore due process and send families back immediately without an appearance before a federal judge.

Nashua’s “Families Belong Together” rally was held at Greeley Park. Close to 300 people gathered in front of the bandshell for a program that included speakers, prayer, and songs. With the midday heat in the low 90s, those in attendance clustered in front of the stage or in the shade provided by trees along the edges of the bandshell’s lawn area.

Scheduled program participants included Reverend Hank Junkin, Reverend Allison Palm, Dan Weeks, Daniel Pontoh, Alderwoman Shoshanna Kelly, Alejandro Urrutia, Jenn Morton, Brenna Woods, and Mayor Jim Donchess. Several others in attendance, including Ward 8 State Rep. Latha Mangipudi, took to the podium to share their experiences as legal immigrants and to express the pain they would have felt had their children been taken away from them as they entered the United States.

The program was informative and passionate. It is unfortunate that our local newspaper, The Telegraph, did little (if anything) to announce the event, did not send a reporter or photographer over to cover the event, and did not publish an article about the rally in the days following the event. Fortunately, the Families Belong Together rallies were national news, and our residents surely heard about some of the programs that were held coast-to-coast…even if they did not receive any news about what happened at Greeley Park, in the City of Nashua, midday on Saturday, June 30th.

No Guns in Schools

Doing nothing is not an option. Elected officials have the responsibility to provide for the safety of our citizens and, especially, for the safety of our children.  My five-year-old granddaughter recently described a safety drill she had at her daycare.  She said they had to hide in a closet and kneel down so the “badmen” couldn’t get them.  And she told me how she had to tell a smaller three-year-old boy to stand behind her.  And I got angry. Angry for our failure to take steps that would better protect our residents and our children.  Individuals have the right to own a gun for personal use, but in the DC v. Heller decision (2008) which reaffirmed that right, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote: “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited.  It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose…The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on…forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

Where to start?

NH is one of only eight states that either allow the concealed carry of firearms (by permit holders) at K – 12 schools or have no relevant law prohibiting it! (Source: Giffords Law Center, 2017).  Our School Boards should have the authority to ban guns from school buildings and grounds. Law enforcement officers and vetted campus security employees are the only personnel that should be allowed to bring weapons on school grounds.  NH is one of only six states that does not prohibit firearm possession for high risk individuals — those convicted of a felony or violent misdemeanor, those with a history of mental health, drug or alcohol issues, or those considered by the court to be dangerous.  (Source: Washington Post, 2/20/2018).  This also needs to be addressed.

NH has a large rural area and a rich tradition of hunting and outdoor activity, but other states with that tradition have taken steps to address concerns about public safety.  Vermont, for example, recently took a step toward closing the private sale loophole for background checks by requiring that all gun transactions be facilitated by a licensed dealer who would perform the background checks.  Some will say these changes aren’t needed or that they are too restrictive; others will say they don’t go far enough.  But we need to have this discussion and we need to begin enacting common sense gun safety laws.

Statement on Education

How are NH public schools funded in NH?  The answer: a mix of state funds and local property taxes.

In 1993, the NH Supreme Court ruled that the NH Constitution “imposes a duty on the State to provide a constitutionally adequate education to every educable child in the public schools in [this State] and to guarantee adequate funding.”  The NH Department of Education recently announced that the base-per-pupil Adequacy rate for FY2018 and FY2019 would be $3,636.06.  However, the statewide average cost per pupil was $15,310 for the 2016 – 2017 school year.  The state has failed to meet its educational aid obligations.

In addition, targeted state aid for students who are receiving special educations services, for eligible for free and reduced priced lunches, and for taking English as a second language were reduced.

And as the NH Municipal Association points out, “With the property tax as the primary source of local revenue, reductions in any state aid program, or the shifting of state costs to municipalities, most often results in increased property tax.”  State Aid to Municipalities: History and Trends, 2016).

Funds are needed to sustain a good educational environment:  for building upkeep, for grounds maintenance, for staff wages, for special education services, for athletics and club activities, for curriculum basics and enhancements.

If we want to provide a quality public education that will provide a foundation for a brighter future for our children, we must ensure that the state halts further reductions in aid to our public schools, we need to oppose efforts to divert already-scarce public funds to private institutions, and we must raise the per-pupil level of funding.