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Hosmer and Youssef face off last time in state Senate race

In their second debate, state Senate candidates Josh Youssef and Andrew Hosmer of Laconia differed most sharply last night on abortion rights and state support for public education.

Youssef, a Republican, also scaled back his recent proposal to temporarily “shelve” state business profits and enterprise taxes for new businesses as a boost to the economy. Last night, Youssef said he would instead make “drastic reductions” to those taxes over time for all businesses.

Youssef and Hosmer, a Democrat, are running for the newly created District 7 state Senate seat that represents Franklin, Laconia, Gilford, Belmont, Andover, Salisbury, Webster, Boscawen, Salisbury and Northfield.

Neither has previously held elected office and both are businessmen. Hosmer is general manager at AutoServ in Tilton, an auto dealership owned by his wife’s family. Youssef started Same Day Computer, a computer repair business.

Both oppose a sales or income tax but differ over the Constitutional amendment that would ban either. Youssef supports that amendment. Hosmer does not.

Last night’s debate was sponsored by the Laconia Daily Sun and gave audience members a chance to submit questions in writing.

The candidates’ positions on state support for public schools also offers voters a clear choice.

Hosmer said he believes public school, from kindergarten to community college and university, should be available and affordable to everyone. Had Hosmer been in the Senate when the state voted to pay 75 percent of the ongoing improvements to the Huot Technical Center in Laconia, Hosmer would have supported it.

Hosmer called access to public education for all is one of the country’s greatest achievements.

Youssef, who has said he wants to privatize higher education in New Hampshire, said he would have voted against state support for the Huot Technical Center. “I believe in local control,” he said. “I don’t believe the state should be as heavily investing in local education.”

Youssef said he believes the state should put its efforts and resources into giving parents more choices for schooling and supports public money for home schooling, charter schools and private schools.

But Youssef would not support privatizing the state’s prison systems because any company trying to make a profit would be susceptive to corruption. The state’s obligation to “security and law enforcement is far too important” to give those responsibilities to a private company. “Whenever somebody is motivated . . . by profit, there is far too much room for corruption to creep in,” he said.

One questioner wanted to know whether they would make exceptions for rape and incest when it came to abortion.

Youssef, who has said he’d allow no exceptions in the past, was less frank last night. He said that as a state senator, he would not be able to overturn Roe v. Wade, the United States Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal.

“I am very much prolife,” he said. “I have Constitutional argument for that. Unborn Americans have a right to life. While we’re blessed to live (in a country) that embraces choice and embraces the right of us to be individuals . . . the thing that trumps choice, is life.”

Hosmer said he believes state and federal lawmakers are trying to overturn Roe v. Wade and made clear that he’d oppose those efforts. He said the decision to have an abortion should be left to a woman and her doctor.

“It’s her choice,” he said. “Her conscience. Her body. That’s it.”

(Annmarie Timmins can be reached at 369-3323, atimmins@cmonitor.com.)

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