An Opinion About the Candidates and Their Views

By Kent Hackmann

The 2020 race in Merrimack House District 1 is underway.  Louise Andrus, the Republican candidate, associates herself with Trump Republicans.  Ken Wells, the incumbent, is the moderate Democrat. At Andover’s July 4th celebration and at Salisbury’s Old Home Day both reached out to the public and both marched in the parades. 

In her announcement of candidacy, Louise Andrus declares her passion for K-12 education and the safety of school children.  She stated that she had learned a great deal though attendance at school board meetings for five years. She assures the reader that she is a fiscal conservative, opposed to any measure that has a hint of a tax on income.  She agrees with Trump and Governor Sununu that improvements in mental health services are the key to the prevention of gun violence.

Ken Wells and David Karrick (Merrimack House District 25) have demonstrated qualities of reasoned discussion and compromise essential in state politics to advance measures that are for the good of the state and that represented the issues most important to their constituents. 

A key issue is relief from increases in property taxes.  I have seen, first hand, citizen discontent and frustration voiced at the annual town meetings when the treasurer reported an increase in property taxes.  The town’s citizens knew the cause: The failure, over recent decades, of the General Court to stop downshifting taxes to the towns and to provide for the court-ordered “adequacy” funding.  Wells and Karrick worked for property tax relief.

Regarding taxes, I invite Louse Andrus to explain how she will fund education and relief from local property tax increases.  She should also describe how she will fund other worthwhile measures, from highways and bridges to prevention and treatment of drug addiction, that were in the vetoed budget.

A second local issue is school safety.  I saw at the 2017 town meeting heart felt and passionate concern for school safety.  I joined the town in approving expensive upgrades in AEMS’s security and life-safety systems.  There was also considerable interest in hiring a school safety officer. It is well and good that the Governor says that New Hampshire is one of the safest states in the nation. That assurance, I suspect, is cold comfort to teachers, students, and staff who know about the recent tragedies at Dayton and El Paso and who may have drills for how to act in an emergency. 

Louse Andrus had sharp criticism for HB 564, which allowed school districts to decide what, if any, measures they might take to protect schools.  Although the Governor vetoed the bill, I hope Andrus will explain what she meant when she wrote that the bill was for “protecting criminals by disarming law-abiding citizens.”

She was also critical of HB696, which had considerable bipartisan support until the Governor vetoed it.  She described it as “creating a guilty until proven innocent” standard. I wonder what she had in mind for an act that provided a protective order for vulnerable adults.

In her letter, Louise Andrus is long on generalities.  She has yet to respond to questions that I have raised in recent editions of the Beacon.  I look forward to reading her responses.


Kent Hackmann