My Turn: Havenstein is allowed to run, but he shouldn’t be
I attended the New Hampshire Ballot Law Commission hearing on June 30 regarding Walt Havenstein’s eligibility to run for governor.
The New Hampshire Constitution states that you cannot run for (or serve as) governor unless you have been an inhabitant of our state for the past seven years.
I personally believe that there is ample evidence that Havenstein was an inhabitant of Maryland for at least some of the years between 2007 and 2012.
I was not shocked, however, that three of the five members of the commission gave him the benefit of the doubt and voted to keep him on the ballot.
In January 2007, Havenstein and his wife, Judith, bought a luxury condo in downtown Bethesda, Md., just as he was taking a new job as the chief executive of defense contractor BAE Systems’ U.S. operating division.
Havenstein and his lawyer described the condo, with only unintentional irony, as “very spartan.” C-Level executives earning $5 million or so a year generally live in fancier dwellings, but this was nevertheless a spacious two-bedroom apartment in a great location, with two parking spaces, in a fancy new building.
The Havensteins took a property tax deduction available only to residents of Maryland who are using the home as a principal residence, which saved them between $1,000 and $2,500 per year.
The Havensteins continued to own a house in Alton, which they built in 2004, and Judith Havenstein continued to live in New Hampshire full time.
Judith Havenstein is definitely eligible to run for governor of New Hampshire, but she is not the candidate. Like millions of other happily married couples, they maintained separate residences between 2007 and 2012 (the year Havenstein retired somewhat abruptly at the end of three difficult years as the CEO of one of BAE’s competitors, SAIC.)
While living in Maryland, Havenstein did visit his wife in Alton as frequently as he could, and he even continued to vote in Alton.
The tax deduction, however, is just one of many indications that he was in fact an inhabitant of Maryland.
He was active in many civic activities around the Washington, D.C., area. He frequently referred to himself in various forums as a resident of Bethesda (which happens to be the town where he grew up). He has been a leading spokesman for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development’s ongoing “ChooseMaryland.org” campaign, which encourages businesses to locate in that state.
By his own admission, he even got a Maryland driver’s license in 2009.
In case anyone is wondering about my qualifications to run for my own current elective office as a state representative from Durham, I have lived in town since 2001.
I grew up in Durham, and I moved away to New York and California while going to school and doing the other things that young people typically do in their 20s.
I moved back to New Hampshire for good in 1984. So, I am well beyond the constitutional requirement of two years as an inhabitant of New Hampshire.
(Rep. Timothy Horrigan lives in Durham.)