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My Turn: Passion, experience set Ardinger apart

During the years when I was Democratic leader in the House, and later when I was a member of Sen. Sylvia Larsen’s leadership team in the Senate, much of my time was spent searching for smart and effective citizens who could be persuaded or cajoled into running for state office.

The trick was to find the kind of person who had experience and passion in just the right balance: experience of the way things work in the real world and a passion for the process of making things better in the world of next year.

When I heard that Kass Ardinger was planning to run for the state Senate from District 15, I recognized immediately that once again, the Democratic Party had found a candidate of extraordinary qualifications. Kass is from Claremont (neighbor to my town), and she is the daughter of our county’s most dedicated Democratic family.

Her uncle Harry Spanos, for those who don’t remember him, was a progressive Democrat who served in the New Hampshire Senate and ran for governor. Her parents remain dedicated Democrats who impressed upon Kass the importance of fair and effective government. She has done an excellent job of honoring their values.

The voters of Concord have elected Kass to serve on the school board three times in city-wide elections. As president of the school board, she led district efforts to build three new elementary schools that were delivered on spec, on time and well under budget. This is the kind of record and experience that makes Kass a simply outstanding candidate for the Senate.

Part of her success must be because she is a great listener, a quality that certainly helps make for a great state senator. A few days ago I watched her with a group of friends and constituents talking about a variety of issues. Kass has an intensity of expression when others are talking that speaks to the determination she has to hear and comprehend what others are saying.

Some folks listen without hearing, waiting for their chance to speak. Kass listens to understand, absorbing the ideas that are being expressed to her.

In her life experience, Kass has learned and triumphed. Faced with a devastating health issue that threatened one of her children, she faced the crisis with everything she had and helped her child survive. What all that cost her was a brilliant legal career, but Kass regrets nothing of the choices she made. Today, in concert with other families who have children with disabilities, she and her husband have formed an organization dedicated to creating supported independent living for their children. That, too, is the kind of experience that makes her a simply outstanding candidate for the state Senate.

In the coming weeks, the voters in Senate District 15 will have a chance to watch Kass in a series of four debates. As those debates will probably demonstrate, the candidates agree on many policy issues. The real difference comes in their New Hampshire experience and passion for the future. And one candidate, Kass, has shown her ability to weigh competing interests and make decisions that ultimately are in the best interest of the community.

Her strength and leadership as a public servant are one more reason I believe voters in District 15 should support Kass as state senator.

(Peter Hoe Burling is a former New Hampshire House Democratic leader and state senator.)

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