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Editorial: Five good choices for the state Senate

In New Hampshire state Senate contests, the easiest choice facing area voters on Tuesday is in the newly redrawn District 15, which includes Concord, Henniker, Hopkinton and Warner.

The race is between incumbent Democrat Sylvia Larsen of Concord and Republican newcomer Lydia Harman of Warner.

Larsen, the former Senate president, is a thoughtful lawmaker who has attained leadership positions by dint of hard work and an unwillingness to participate in the vilifying of political opponents that characterized the last session of the Legislature. Among her priorities: restoring funding to the university system; alleviating the shortage of hospital beds and other problems besetting the state’s once-great mental health system; and eliminating the downshifting of state responsibilities to local taxpayers.

Harman is a real estate broker, a cable television show host and a former Army Reserve medic who believes business is over-regulated and state spending excessive. She is a fiscal conservative with limited knowledge of state government.

Larsen has represented Concord and surrounding towns exceptionally well, and her voice deserves to be heard in the next Legislature. She gets our vote.

Here are our picks for four other area state Senate seats:

District 7

Voters in Senate District 7 – which includes Belmont, Gilford, Laconia, Andover, Boscawen, Canterbury, Franklin, Northfield, Salisbury and Webster – also won’t have to do any heavy lifting when choosing Democrat Andrew Hosmer over Republican Joshua Youssef.

Hosmer is the general manager of his family’s auto dealership. The 30 percent of his company’s insurance bill that he says goes to cover the cost of care for the uninsured has made him a supporter of expanding Medicaid, something he would support if elected.

Hosmer is a strong supporter of public education and funding for the state university system. He would push to create an economic plan for the system that keeps costs down and stops the flight of top students out of state.

Hosmer’s candidacy contrasts sharply with that of Youssef, who has been called unelectable by members of his party because of his refusal to candidly address court filings that document his failure to pay federal income taxes for several years. He is a neophyte politician with extreme views that are grossly out of sync with those of the vast majority of his district’s residents. This one’s no contest. Vote for Hosmer.

District 16

District 16 – a Manchester-area district that also includes Bow and Dunbarton – is a closer call, but our vote goes to incumbent Republican David Boutin over his Democratic opponent, former Manchester school board member Kathleen Kelley, who would benefit by serving a term or two in the House to become better grounded in the issues.

We disagree with most of Boutin’s voting record. But what sets him apart is his eagerness to work in a bipartisan fashion when possible with his colleagues and spend money when circumstances require it.

He voted to restore funding to modernize the judicial system’s electronic data system and against efforts to scrap the new, more efficient circuit courts.

He calls the state women’s prison a disgrace and favors replacing both it and the antiquated men’s prison in Concord. Most of all, Boutin should be sent back to the Senate because he is an affable legislator who serves as a bridge between the parties. He is force for a return to a more civil era when rivals could passionately oppose each other in debate and then go out for a beer together.

District 17

In District 17, which includes Allenstown, Chichester, Epsom, Loudon, Pembroke, Pittsfield, Deerfield, Northwood and a handful of other communities, our vote goes to Democrat Nancy Fraher over Republican John Reagan.

Reagan, who currently serves in the House, is a fiscal conservative with some profoundly mistaken ideas about the cost of higher education and the urgent need to restore the state’s mental health care system.

Fraher is a Chichester resident who spent 35 years as a middle school-teacher in Candia. She wants to find a better way to fund higher education and lower its cost because top students can now, because of better financial aid offers, attend private colleges in other states more cheaply than UNH. She fears what that could mean for the state’s economy. Fraher’s long career in education has allowed her see the struggles New Hampshire families go through. She is pragmatic about what government can do to help them.

Voters should send her to Concord.

District 2

Finally, in Senate District 2 – an enormous district which includes the local communities of Wilmot, Danbury, Hill, Bristol, Tilton, Sanbornton, New Hampton, Meredith and Center Harbor – our vote goes to challenger Robert Lamb, a Democrat, over incumbent Republican Jeanie Forrester.

We make that decision despite Forrester’s laudable record of constituent service and endearing personality. It’s simply that her voting record is so bad and her opponent, a former chief financial officer for one of the nation’s biggest banks, would be such a strong addition to the Senate.

Though the legislation Forrester sponsored was reasonable, she sided with her party on almost every controversial vote to take New Hampshire in the wrong direction. Among them was the wage-killing right-to-work bill and the change that directs taxpayer money away from the state coffers and to religious schools.

Lamb, of Holderness, is a West Point graduate and veteran of six years in the Army. He went on to get an MBA and hold jobs in business and banking. Lamb wants to restore the cuts to education funding and believes out-of-state groups came to have too much influence on legislative decisions. As a businessman, he sees the need to invest in the state’s infrastructure and programs to train workers to fill the highly-skilled jobs on which the future of the economy depends. Lamb is an independent thinker who, as a banker, knows how to assess risk and invest taxpayer money in ways likely to bring them the biggest return. He belongs in the Senate.

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