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My Turn:

One of the most important elements of a healthy community is its volunteers, people who are willing to work on behalf of non-profits, to solve community problems, and to run for public office. Concord has been lucky to have many such devoted community-minded citizens.

Today we want to single out one of those remarkable people who make this community a better place in which to live. She has made wonderful contributions to this community for the past 25 years and is not done yet.

State Senate Democratic candidate Kass Ardinger is running to replace longtime community volunteer Sylvia Larsen as our District 15 state senator. Larsen set high standards with her listening skills, responsiveness to citizens’ concerns, and legislation to improve our community and state, such as universal access to public kindergarten and most recently, the Paycheck Fairness Act for fair and equal pay.

Kass Ardinger’s high ideals and experience – excellent listening skills, tested decision-making on behalf of a constituency, and compassion — will build upon that great foundation.

Kass comes to this role with a long history of being a community volunteer who is tuned in to the needs of its citizens. Many people know that she has served as a three-time elected member of the Concord School Board, serving five of those eight years as its president. She led the district through a challenging reorganization of its schools during a tough economic time.

But Kass was a volunteer before that, in ways that many people don’t know. She served as a board member for Child and Family Services and as an appointee on former governor Jeanne Shaheen’s Governor’s Council on Volunteerism. When a neighbor who is a teacher of the deaf told Kass that he wished he had a better way to teach children with hearing problems, Kass listened and became a founding member of Hear in New Hampshire – a school created to help deaf and hard of hearing children.

That is the sort of quiet problem solving she is known for among her friends, and among those who will soon know her, we hope, as a state senator.

In addition Kass continues her six-year commitment to volunteer weekly for St. Paul’s Church Food Pantry, which provides food to those in need. She and all the volunteers who serve the pantry know first-hand about “food insecurity” as they watch refugees, single mothers, and even intact families seek the food they need to get them through a short- or long-term crisis.

Kass took on those volunteer efforts while juggling the full-time job of raising three children, one of whom was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. She gave up her promising legal career to devote herself to her children and to the years of visits to hospitals and specialists in Boston.

Our community is a great place in which to live because people like Kass feel the responsibility to invest of themselves to make it a better place for all. Her years of community service have informed and shaped her as a passionate and ardent advocate for the underserved, disabled and disenfranchised.

Her commitment, life experience, compassion and strength tell us that she is the right person to be elected Democratic state senator representing District 15.

(Deborah de Peyster of Concord has been a community volunteer since 1986. Robyn Cotton of Concord has been a community volunteer since 1984.)

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