Candidate Shares Past Struggles That Led to Run for State Senate

By Philip Spagnuolo

I’ll admit I’m not a normal politician. My life experience is decidedly different from most, if not all of Concord. But my past struggles inform a perspective that is sorely needed in our government — the perspective of working people, struggling people, and people who have been left behind. That’s why I’m running for State Senate.

I was born in Wakefield, Massachusetts to a proud immigrant community. My family moved to Laconia early in my life as my parents pursued job opportunities. Growing up, I learned the values of working hard, working together, and lifting people up.

Getting older, I found that what had started as an innocent escape from life’s difficulties and traumas had turned into self-medication. I had become dependent on drugs and alcohol.

Even as I worked hard and became very successful in the restaurant industry — working up from being a busboy in a Laconia restaurant, to managing restaurants across the country, even owning a restaurant in Gilford for a period of time — I struggled to maintain balance with a continued substance abuse issue.

My lowest point, my rock bottom, came after I became involved with heroin and was arrested for possession. During my few months in jail, I realized that it was either get sober or continue a spiral of addiction that would likely lead to my death.

I left jail with a trash bag of my possessions and a determination to get and stay sober. With no other options, I was able to get on Medicaid and get the services I needed. But that process was not without roadblocks. It was incredibly difficult due to the lack of service providers, the stigma surrounding addiction, and the absolute inaction of our government in combating the crisis.

I realized I was not unlike many others who couldn’t find the help they needed and were looking for a hand up, not a handout. So, I took action and have dedicated my life since being sober to helping and serving others. When my community was in need, I didn’t wait for Concord to act — I co-founded a nonprofit recovery center, opened multiple affordable sober houses, and became a certified recovery coach.

After our government continued to take no action on the crisis of addiction, I decided to run for state representative. I was told not to run, and that I’d lose because of my past mistakes. I ran anyway to confront the stigma of addiction and to be a voice for a community in need.

I brought together Democrats, independents, and Republicans in a mission to give a voice to the voiceless. And I won.

To me, service isn’t about partisanship or party, it’s about dedication to our communities, to the people I represent, and giving a voice to those who feel left behind. People in our district have been fighting for their families for years — it’s time they had someone fighting for them in the State Senate. You can find more information at

Phil Spagnuolo