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Special election in N.H. Senate District 16 kicks off July 25

  • David Boutin

  • Kevin Cavanaugh 



Monitor staff
Monday, July 24, 2017

The heavily contested special election for a state Senate seat will come to a close Tuesday.

Republican David Boutin of Hooksett and Democrat Kevin Cavanaugh of Manchester, along with Libertarian Jason Dubrow of Dunbarton, will be vying for the District 16 seat left empty by Democratic Sen. Scott McGilvray, who died in March. District 16 covers Bow, Dunbarton, Candia, Hooksett and parts of Manchester.

The campaign has been marked by big spending and endorsements from major political figures and a strong focus on absentee voting. And while the Democrats and Republicans may see themselves as having completely different ideas on what’s best for the Granite State, the candidates’ views intersect in more instances than one might think.

Education

Both Boutin and Cavanaugh have said the decision to increase funding for full-day kindergarten was the right move. They also agreed that they would have supported funding kindergarten through the use of the keno lottery game, although they didn’t like the idea.

“I would have had to hold my nose to do it,” Boutin said. He said he believes someone will step forward next spring to increase kindergarten funding by $700.

Cavanaugh said he would have preferred to see a fully funded program and a guaranteed form of funding.

Boutin said the public education system is funded adequately, although he said the Claremont ruling from the Supreme Court – allocating state funding for schools in property-poor districts – may have to be revisited in the next two or three years.

He also defended the downshifting of retirement costs to local towns, saying it’s appropriate that towns shoulder those costs and that contracts for police, fire and teachers should be negotiated based on what the community’s tax rate can support. He said most towns have adjusted to the downshifting.

Cavanaugh spoke against downshifting costs, saying the withdrawal of the state’s contribution to retirements placed an unfair burden on taxpayers. He was also against the so-called Croydon bill, or Senate Bill 8, which allows school to use taxpayer money to tuition students to private schools. Cavanaugh said the program would chip away at support for public schools.

Gov. Chris Sununu signed the Croydon bill into law late last month.

The economy

Cavanaugh and Boutin have offered different visions for how to grow the state’s economy.

Cavanaugh said the key to attracting businesses to the state would be creating better infrastructure to support them, such as a viable rail system and high-speed fiber optic internet. He was against the idea of lowering business taxes.

Boutin, however, said his No. 1 priority was to create an environment for businesses to come into the state, and said the new level of taxes on businesses – the Legislature recently passed a budget incrementally cutting the business profits tax and enterprise tax – was a good place to start. He said previous reduction in the two business taxes contributed to an increase of 12 percent business tax revenue in the state for the first half of fiscal year 2017. He did not foresee a further reduction in business profit taxes.

Both Bouting and Cavanaugh agreed that they would support having one or two casinos in the state, saying a physical gambling location would bring jobs. But while both agreed they would vote against a broad-based income tax, their rationales differed dramatically.

Boutin is flat-out against a broad-based tax. And Cavanaugh?

“It’s never going to happen in New Hampshire,” he said. “To vote for it is political suicide. ... If you vote for it, that will be the last time you vote.”

Marijuana

There was a clear divide between the candidates on the decision to decriminalize three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana, signed into law last week and set to take effect in less than two months.

Cavanaugh said he would have supported it.

Boutin, who said he views marijuana as a gateway drug, would not have. He also said he would not be surprised if a bill, which he also would not support, to legalize the recreational use of the drug were passed next spring.

Voting rights

Both candidates were confident that New Hampshire elections are secure, and that there is no widespread fraudulent voting in the state. They also said there is no need for the state to send public voter information to Donald Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

Their tone, however, on Secretary of State Bill Gardner’s involvement with the committee was noticeably different.

“That’s his business,” Boutin said, who characterized the committee as being a “waste of time.”

Cavanaugh took a milder approach, saying he didn’t see why Gardner, a Democrat, shouldn’t go if his aim is to defend the state’s integrity. But Cavanaugh said the idea that there is widespread voter fraud – an idea promoted without evidence by members of the Trump administration – is “an insult to New Hampshire.”

But candidates differed on whether they would have supported Senate Bill 3, which requires voters who move to the state within 30 days of an election to provide proof that they intend to stay.

Cavanaugh would not have supported the bill, calling it “restrictive.” He said he is in favor of making voting easier via mail-in ballots and allowing people to vote in the weeks before elections at town halls.

Boutin pushed back against the idea that SB 3 is restrictive, saying the bill’s only effect was to expand number of ways voters can prove where their domicile is. If elected, he said he plans to put forward a bill making absentee voter applications available at the town level.

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Polls will be open on July 25 at the following locations: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Dunbarton at the Dunbarton Community Center; 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Bow at the Bow Memorial School; 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Candia at the Candia town offices; 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Hooksett at the David R. Cawley Middle School; and 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Manchester in Wards 1, 2 and 12.