Merrimack County District 23
Republican incumbents JR Hoell, Bill Kuch and John Martin are running against Democrats Dennis D’Ovidio, Michael Kaminski and Mary Beth Walz.Dennis D’Ovidio
Town of residence: Bow
Occupation: Retired, state of N.H.; part-time adjunct faculty NHTI
Do you support commuter rail funding? Not at this time. We need to address the more immediate and critical issues of our roads and bridges first.
Do you support providing more state money for higher education? N.H. must have a more balanced approach to helping our young citizens access higher education without the unacceptable level of debt when they graduate. There also needs to be a greater focus on post secondary education opportunities that teach vocational and technology skills in manufacturing, the trades and health care.
Do you support pro-gun legislation, such as constitutional carry? I believe the current gun laws of N.H. are sufficient to prevent/reduce gun violence with the inclusion of mandatory background checks for all gun show purchases.
Reauthorizing Medicaid expansion? All citizens of N.H. should have access to affordable health care including preventative health care. Unless and until there is a reasonable and affordable alternative to Medicaid expansion, I support reauthorization.
Do you support increasing the minimum wage? N.H. does not have a minimum wage, and I believe the federal minimum wage is not a living wage. I support a phasing in of a living wage based on the cost of living in N.H.
Do you support marijuana legalization or decriminalization? I do not support legalization of marijuana at this time. If the surrounding states move to legalize marijuana then I would consider supporting a bill. I support decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana. I would want to review each of the bills before making a final determination on their merits
What would you like voters to know about your philosophy, principles or priorities? I support: policies that promote every family to provide for a safe, affordable and healthy living environment; policies that protect retirement and pension security so that every person can retire with dignity; policies that promote a fair, fiscally responsible budget and tax structure that does not cost shift on to property owners; policies that promote quality education for all N.H. children K through 12 and posts secondary skills training; the right of workers to bargain collectively.Michael S. Kaminski
Town of residence: Dunbarton
Occupation: retired U.S. Army veteran (27 years); optometrist
Do you support commuter rail funding? This needs more study with regards to developing a solid financial plan. We must not sacrifice our road and bridge repair to fund commuter rail nor incur massive state debt.
Do you support providing more state money for higher education? Yes, we must strive to reduce costs of higher education which now leave most graduates in significant debt.
Do you support pro-gun legislation, such as constitutional carry? The Second Amendment is alive and well in New Hampshire, our existing laws are adequate.
Do you support reauthorizing Medicaid expansion? Yes, however, a more permanent solution is needed. Our citizens living close to the poverty level should be afforded insurance that provides at a minimum basic preventive and catastrophic care.
Do you support increasing the minimum wage? I support a two-tiered minimum wage, a higher living wage for those over 18 years of age and a lower minimum for summer student hires.
Do you support marijuana legalization or decriminalization? Only decriminalization at this time. I currently oppose legalization of recreational marijuana use.
What would you like voters to know about your philosophy, principles or priorities? We need common-sense bipartisan solutions to N.H. problems. Extreme positions on either side of the aisle impedes progress. I will best represent the true needs and interests of the citizens of Bow and Dunbarton.Mary Beth Walz
Town of residence: Bow
Incumbent? I am not an incumbent, but I represented this district for four terms between 2004 and 2014.
Do you support commuter rail funding? I like the idea of commuter rail, but I have yet to see numbers that convince me that, financially, it is a wise use of taxpayers dollars.
Do you support providing more state money for higher education? Yes. We are last in the nation in the support we provide to higher education and our students are graduating with far too much debt.
Do you support pro-gun legislation, such as constitutional carry? No
Do you support reauthorizing Medicaid expansion? Yes
Do you support increasing the minimum wage? Yes
Do you support marijuana legalization or decriminalization? I support decriminalization. I like the idea of legalization and taxation, but I want to learn more about the outcome of legalization in other states before I fully support it for New Hampshire.
What would you like voters to know about your philosophy, principles or priorities? Governing should be based on public policy, not ideology. Good governing demands learning about issues, and what solutions have worked as well as what have not worked. Too often legislators arrive in Concord with their own agenda and ideology that prevent them from looking at a matter from any point of view beyond their own ideological perspective. A legislator’s job is to listen and learn before making a decision on their vote. During my last term, I was chair of the Children and Family Law Committee. As chair, I sponsored and ushered juvenile justice reform through the legislature. I included members from both parties in every step of the planning and decision making. As a result, there was overwhelming support for the legislation from both sides of the aisle. We can and should take this approach with more issues.JR Hoell
Town of residence: Dunbarton
Occupation: Chief mechanical systems engineer and small business owner
Incumbent? If so, how many terms? Yes; I have served for 3 terms (6 years)
Do you support commuter rail funding? Several recent studies of rail transit indicated that bringing passenger rail to New Hampshire would cost taxpayers over $300 million and beyond this would require an annual taxpayer subsidy of over $11 million. This should surprise no one, since commuter rail systems always run at a loss. This is an expensive choice for improving the state’s infrastructure that meets the needs of only a fraction of residents statewide. Therefore, I would not support a commuter rail project for southern N.H.
Do you support providing more state money for higher education? The goal of taxpayer subsidized higher education should be building skills in New Hampshire residents that allows them to move into the state’s workforce and continue to expand our economy. The university system is failing that mission. A better use of taxpayer resources, that delivers a much better return on investment, is the state’s community college system. We should look to identify opportunities there to work to build opportunities to match skills with jobs available in today’s changing economy.
Do you support pro-gun legislation, such as constitutional carry? I support all of the Constitutional rights including the Second Amendment, and I would support pro-gun legislation such as constitutional carry. Gun control does not result in crime control. The criminals do not request permission from government to go purchase a gun. The real solution is to make sure that those who commit violent crimes are not put back on the streets.
Do you support reauthorizing Medicaid expansion? The fundamental lesson of the success of federal welfare reform was the need for able-bodied, healthy adults to work, or seek work, to receive benefits. Medicaid expansion turns away from that common sense lesson, and spends hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, meaning that those who are working will need to work even harder to subsidize people who can work but don’t.
Do you support increasing the minimum wage? The solution to lifting workers’ wages is not a government mandate, but a strong economy. Today, with New Hampshire having less than 3 percent unemployment, you can’t find jobs that pay $7.25. The way to continue to push up wages is to have a high demand for workers because our economy is growing. We do that by making the state more competitive by providing greater tax relief to employers and lowering health care and energy costs.
Do you support marijuana legalization or decriminalization? As a former employee at a drug rehab facility, I have seen what works and what does not. We are currently facing a drug epidemic and the current prohibitions do not seem to be working. It is time to take a hard look at the failures seen during the U.S. prohibition on alcohol and how there was a significant increase of crime that correlated to the prohibitions put in place under the 18th Amendment. Other countries have found significant reductions in drug abuse and drug-induced deaths by reducing the penalties on marijuana and other drugs. It is time to look at the 21 states that have already reduced the penalties for simple possession and review the data from those states. If the penalties are eliminated, the money that is currently spent on enforcement of those criminal penalties could then be spent on helping those who have addictions. It is time that we ensure that those who need treatment get treatment, not jail time. For the record, we are currently the only state in all of New England that has not reduced the criminal penalties for simple possession.
What would you like voters to know about your philosophy, principles or priorities? Our education system needs work. The current system does not adequately prepare students for life after high school. I have talked to several large employers and they are reluctant to hire 18-year-olds as they are not ready to do the jobs that are available. Education choice is important as not every child learns the same way and we need to find a way to give parents greater say in which school their child attends. We have a number of people dying from drug overdoses. The current plan to spend more money on overtime is not working. 20 years ago I volunteered full time for two years at a drug rehab facility. I know what works and what does not. It is time to get these kids help and not just throw more criminal penalties at them. There is a better way to help those addicted. Lastly, our state has some of the worst business taxes and companies are leaving the state. We need to make our great state a place not only to live, but a place where employers want to locate their firms. This means solving the energy prices as well as fixing the tax structure to make New Hampshire more competitive.Bill Kuch
Town of residence: Bow
Occupation: retired former high-tech executive
Incumbent? If so, how many terms? Yes, one term
Do you support commuter rail funding? By private enterprise, not taxpayers.
Do you support providing more state money for higher education? As a product of the community college system, I support our community colleges to fill the trades and skills gap we are experiencing in New Hampshire. I do not support increased taxpayer dollars to fund the building of sports stadiums or high-tech dining room tables.
Do you support pro-gun legislation, such as constitutional carry? Yes.
Do you support reauthorizing Medicaid expansion? No.
Do you support increasing the minimum wage? It should be up to the employer to set wages for his/her employees based upon market conditions.
Do you support marijuana legalization or decriminalization? No, except with a medical professional’s prescription..
What would you like voters to know about your philosophy, principles or priorities? We need to reduce regulations that are stifling our businesses. We need to keep government in check by requiring all rules and regulations to have a business impact test. Government spending of our money must be limited and should provide demonstrable benefits to all taxpayers. Free market solutions are the best way to lower government spending.John Martin
Town of residence: Bow
Occupation: retired, N.H. DOC and U.S. Army
Incumbent? If so, how many terms? Yes, first term.
Do you support commuter rail funding? I don’t support this. We had commuter rail to Concord back in the early 80s. It failed. Commuter rail will primarily be to the benefit of Massachusetts, particularly Boston. Worse, the system will be overseen by the MBTA, possibly the worst-run public utility, that is used as a slush fund for Massachusetts politicians.
Do you support providing more state money for higher education? The high cost of education is because colleges don’t prioritize their budgets on providing the best education for the buck. Unfortunately, over the years the N.H. university system has proven it is incapable of prioritizing education. A $17,000 table and a new football stadium did absolutely nothing to decrease the cost of what is the most expensive public university education in the country. Until the university system reigns in it’s overpriced spending and salary habits, I cannot see any reason to increase taxpayer funding. It will not benefit the students.
Do you support pro-gun legislation, such as constitutional carry? I support the 2nd amendment, and constitutional carry. N.H. is the safest state in the country. If you look at areas with harsh gun control measures, like Chicago, you see the error of draconian gun control measures.
Reauthorizing Medicaid expansion? No. If you go back to before one illustrious governor took office, there were many choices for health insurance. By the time that governor left office, there were only two, and her daughter had a job with one of them. We have had Medicare and Medicaid in one form or another since the 60s. The constant expansion has done nothing to control health care costs. Obamacare was supposed to solve the problem, and all it has done is increase costs. Expanding Medicaid more will only trap people in the cycle of poverty that keeps them from improving their lives.
Do you support increasing the minimum wage? The minimum wage should be market driven and not mandated. Forcing businesses to increase wages to all employees disincentives ambition, and marginal companies only cut hours and employees to maintain their payroll budget. That has been the result everywhere higher minimum wages have been mandated. The good employee will always rise to the top. If the over achiever is treated the same as the under achiever, where is the incentive?
Do you support marijuana legalization or decriminalization? No. There is a drug abuse crisis in this state. Adding another intoxicant to the range of drugs already available for abuse will only be counter-productive. Medical marijuana has barely gotten established in N.H. We have no idea how that will work out.
What would you like voters to know about your philosophy, principles or priorities? Government agencies should not be allowed to create new rules and regulations or set fees independently without the approval of the Legislature. This only costs the citizens of this state time, money and freedoms.