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'Former teacher, senator to run for Senate seats'

A former elementary school teacher from Chichester and a three-term Senate veteran from Portsmouth will run as Democrats for next year's newly mapped Senate.

Nancy Fraher, a Candia Elementary School teacher retiring next month, announced Friday she will run this fall for the Senate District 17 seat, held by Republican Sen. Jack Barnes of Raymond. Republicans outnumber Democrats in the Senate by a veto-proof majority, 19 to 5.

Fraher said in a statement that 'providing a high-quality education is the most important thing we can do as a state to ensure that our children have the opportunities they deserve for good lives and to ensure that our state can attract the innovative businesses of the future.'

'I've spent most of my life trying to improve education for our children here in New Hampshire,' said Fraher, a Pembroke native and Plymouth State University graduate. 'I am running because I can't just sit back any longer and watch the Legislature attempt to dismantle public education and the opportunities it provides for our children.'

Fraher is a former chairwoman of the Chichester School Board, and also served on the SAU 53 board, which comprises Allenstown, Epsom, Deerfield, Pembroke and Chichester. She lives in Chichester with her husband, Gerard, and daughter Suzanne. Fraher is retiring after 35 years as a teacher, including the last 30 years at Candia Elementary.

Thanks to redistricting, former Democratic state senator Martha Fuller Clark of Portsmouth is running to fill the seat soon vacated by retiring two-term Democratic Sen. Amanda Merrill of Durham. Clark lost her Senate seat in 2010 to Republican Nancy Stiles of Hampton, but the new 10-year Senate district map, which takes effect this year to reflect population changes in the census, now lumps Portsmouth into District 21 with Durham.

During her six terms in the House and three terms in the Senate, Fuller Clark said, 'I was able to work across party lines to pass legislation on many major issues.'

'These past two years I have been appalled at the deterioration of the process of providing good government and by the open manipulation occurring at the State House by radical out-of-state influences,' Fuller Clark said in a statement.

Merrill, who announced her retirement Friday, becomes the eighth senator - a third of the chamber - to decide against seeking re-election. Preceding her were Sens. Fenton Groen of Rochester, John Gallus of Berlin, Jim Forsythe of Strafford, Matthew Houde of Plainfield, Ray White of Bedford, Tom De Blois of Manchester and Gary Lambert of Nashua. Houde is a Democrat, the rest are Republicans.

Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen applauded Merrill's work as a senator, saying New Hampshire 'benefited greatly from her leadership and depth of understanding in the areas of energy and environmental policy, education, election law, and ethics.'

'Her attention to detail in matters of complex legislation is much appreciated by those who work with her, as are her openness and collegiality,' Larsen said in a statement.

Last week, Lempster Republican Sen. Bob Odell announced he will run for a sixth term for the District 8 seat. Odell said 'the Senate received a mandate from the voters in 2010 to get our fiscal house in order, and I'm proud to say that we delivered.'

'With the flurry of retirement announcements within the Senate, it seems all the more integral that there are senators who can provide experience and steady leadership,' Odell said.

(Matthew Spolar can be reached at 369-3309 or mspolar@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @mattspolar.)

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