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State Rep races: Merrimack County District 5 (New London, Newbury)

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New London, Newbury (two seats)
Wednesday, November 02, 2016
Merrimack County District 5

Incumbent Karen Ebel is joined by Jayne Powers Leary on the Democratic ticket while Dan Wolf is running on the Republican side.

Karen Ebel

Party: Democrat

Occupation: Former attorney

Incumbent? If so, how many terms? Yes; 2 terms

Do you support commuter rail funding? Rail extension to Manchester would help N.H.’s economy. It would be mostly federally funded, however, the state’s initial and ongoing financial commitment must be carefully considered, including public-private partnership opportunities. During our House Public Works and Highways Committee’s capital budget hearings, chambers of commerce, industry, nonprofits and the Manchester Airport convincingly supported rail and its statewide benefits. We don’t have to choose between funding rail and our highways. State Highway Fund and federal highway dollars cannot be used to fund rail. Conversely, federal transit dollars cannot fund highway repair. Public transit options for rural areas must also be assessed.

Do you support providing more state money for higher education? Yes, both for operations and to improve the university and community college system’s infrastructure. Investing in higher education will foster our state’s economic growth, help create jobs and attract younger workers. Surprising to many, manufacturing is still our economy’s largest sector. Businesses come to our capital budget committee hearings to plead for better educational infrastructure to support technical programs, promising jobs to graduates. Private-public partnerships among government, academia, industry and non-profits are vital to create jobs and bolster our economy.

Do you support pro-gun legislation, such as constitutional carry? Police can better ensure public safety by retaining concealed carry permit requirements. I support requiring common sense background checks through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for purchasers of guns online and at gun shows. However, NICS is only as good as its data. Like the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), I believe that states, like N.H., must do a far better job providing pertinent records to NICS. For instance, the NSSF ranks N.H. 49th per capita nationally in the number of mental health adjudication and involuntary commitment records submitted to NICS.

Do you support reauthorizing Medicaid expansion? Absolutely. Expansion has improved 50,000 of our neediest citizens’ health and we all benefit economically. Our insurance premiums are high. Hospitals must charge the insured more to help defray costs incurred caring for the uninsured and for Medicaid patients. (Nationally, N.H. has one of the lowest Medicaid reimbursement rates.) Hospitals get state “uncompensated care” dollars as partial reimbursement for uninsured healthcare. These payments have decreased thanks to Medicaid expansion, saving us money. Medicaid expansion dollars are vital in our fight to solve our burgeoning opioid crisis. Our excellent quality of life only improves with more, better health care coverage.

Do you support increasing the minimum wage? N.H.’s minimum wage tracks the federal minimum wage. I support reestablishing our minimum wage at a level higher than that set by the federal government ($7.25). The discussion continues on how high it should be and who should be covered. Evidence indicates that putting more money in the pockets of our citizens will help our economy. Increasing the minimum wage would start to alleviate the tremendous day-to-day money-related stresses faced by too many underpaid working people in our state, helping them to live healthier, happier lives.

Do you support marijuana legalization or decriminalization? I do not support legalization. State law specifies the conditions for which medical marijuana may be used. We should continue to discuss whether additional conditions should be authorized for use. I support decriminalization, depending on the terms of proposed legislation. Dollars spent on the pursuit and prosecution of marijuana users could be better spent to help alleviate our opioid crisis.

What would you like voters to know about your philosophy, principles or priorities? I feel privileged to serve in the N.H. House. My most important job is listening to constituents and representing my district well. I am issue-focused. We must build consensus to develop common-sense bipartisan solutions to N.H.’s myriad issues. Efficient, responsive, innovative state government helps N.H. be its best. We must promote our economy, working with business to create jobs through wise investment in education and infrastructure.

Constituent service, conservation, promotion of renewable energy, women’s health and maintaining our quality of life are also my top priorities.

Jayne Powers Leary

Dan Wolf

Party: Republican

Age: 69

Town of residence: Newbury

Occupation: Property management and development

Incumbent? No

Do you support commuter rail funding? While commuter rail is an admirable project, I feel that the existing infrastructure needs to be brought up to standards first. There are too many red-listed bridges, deteriorated roads, poorly maintained right-of-ways and other problems that need to be repaired before we take on new costs. Where will the money come from?

Do you support providing more state money for higher education? We must have the best system of higher education that we can afford. However, after 14 years on the Kearsarge Regional School Board, I have found that more money does not always guarantee a better education. Money must be spent with intent and a well-defined objective. I support more money for the higher education system if the purpose is clear and the results are measurable.

Do you support pro-gun legislation, such as constitutional carry? I do not believe that there should be a right to carry a weapon without limitation. If an individual does not want someone to bring a weapon into his home or place of business, that individual should have the right to say no. I believe in the right to bear arms, but as with every issue, there are restrictions and controls. This should not be an all or nothing solution.

Do you support reauthorizing Medicaid expansion? While the early results are promising, I need to have more information on the costs and benefits of this program to make an educated response.

Do you support increasing the minimum wage? I believe that the minimum wage should be increased. I believe that working full time at minimum wage should place you above the poverty line. Today’s minimum wage barely does that. Also, it has not been raised since 2009, and inflation has increased over 8 percent.

Do you support marijuana legalization or decriminalization? The issue needs to be examined especially now that there are several states that have experienced decriminalization. The effort to stop marijuana has been unsuccessful and with killer drugs available, is this the best use of our resources? While I would be inclined to support legalization of marijuana, I would like to see what the results have been from other states that have changed their laws before making a definitive decision.

What would you like voters to know about your philosophy, principles or priorities? I do not believe that just spending more money makes a better state. We need to come together to look at the problems and find solutions that may be non-financial. I also believe that there are very few issues that can simply be answered yes or no, or that are black and white. We need to be open to conversations across party lines and to not be so idealistic as to believe that one’s idea is the only solution.