Letter: State failed the people

Tuesday, March 21, 2017
State failed the people

So much for local control.

On March 13, Gov. Sununu, with the assistance of Bill Gardner and Shawn Jasper, told town officials that they were “strongly encouraged” to hold Tuesday’s election ignoring potential safety issues with the impending storm.

Sununu also issued a thinly veiled warning that there might be legal challenges to the results if towns disobeyed him and postponed the election. Moderators who reminded the governor that RSA 40:4.ii gives them the legal right to postpone an election for inclement weather were told that was not an option.

Yet, on Tuesday, legislative sessions were canceled, state employees were encouraged to work at home and all state liquor store employees were sent home early because of the storm. On the other hand, voters, town officials and poll workers were not given such protection. Once the polls opened, they had to remain open until after dark. Voters had to choose between their basic rights and their safety.

Given that it was a local election, our governor should have encouraged each town moderator to do what was best and safest for each community.

The hastily called conference call between the governor and town officials didn’t occur until mid-afternoon on Monday. The governor was unable to answer basic questions, and he didn’t seem very well prepared in general. But, he was adamant that he was right, and that the towns could not exercise their best judgment.

State government should always work for and represent the people. That is their job. They didn’t do it in this instance, and they need to be held accountable.