Editorial: Van Ostern, Pappas deserve your support
It’s time to return moderation to the Executive Council, the body that approves or rejects state contracts and gubernatorial appointments. For that reason, and because they are right on several crucial issues and their opponents wrong, we urge voters to cast their ballot for Colin Van Ostern in District 2 and Chris Pappas in District 4. Both men are Democrats whose election would bring balance to a council sorely in need of it.
The current all-Republican Executive Council has often taken extreme positions. Its five members abused their power by countermanding legislative decisions for ideological reasons. That was the case when a majority of councilors voted to reject a longstanding contract between the state and Planned Parenthood, and with it $1.8 million in federal funds that help the organization provide health care and contraceptives, but not abortions, to low-income women. It happened again when the council refused to allow the state to accept federal funds to study the feasibility of extending passenger rail service as far as Concord, and yet again when it voted against permitting the state to accept federal money to design a health care exchange of its own to connect uninsured residents with the private insurers who could best meet their needs.
The newly drawn District 2 includes Concord as well as Boscawen, Bradford, Canterbury, Franklin, Henniker, Hopkinton, Newbury, Northfield, Salisbury, Sutton, Warner, Webster, Barnstead, Belmont, Gilmanton – and slew of other communities stretching across the center of the state.
Van Ostern, a manager for Stonyfield Farm with an MBA from Dartmouth, has long been active in Democratic politics and, though he has never held public office, he can answer questions about the issues more knowledgeably than many who have. He would have voted to fund Planned Parenthood and in favor of the creation of a state health exchange and a study of the future of passenger rail. He does not believe it is the council’s role to effectively overturn legislative decisions it disagrees with.
Van Ostern’s Republican opponent is attorney Michael Tierney, a lawyer for New Hampshire Right to Life and a critic of Planned Parenthood. In his meeting with the Monitor editorial board Tierney was emphatic in his view that the Executive Council could act as a super-legislature and overrule a majority of the state’s lawmakers, not only for mechanical reasons pertaining to a contract, but because a majority of councilors opposed whatever the contract called for. That alone is enough to disqualify Tierney.
After redistricting, District 4 now includes the local communities of Allenstown, Bow, Chichester, Epsom, Hooksett, Loudon, Pembroke, Pittsfield, Deerfield and Northwood.
Pappas, a Manchester restaurant owner with 230 employees is a Harvard graduate, a Democrat and a former county treasurer. He feels that it was a mistake for the state not to set up its own health care exchange or study the extension of rail service. He has a strong financial background and experience in reviewing and negotiating contracts. Pappas’s Republican opponent is Hillsborough County Treasurer Robert Burns. Burns supports the council’s decision to reject the rail study, Planned Parenthood and health care exchange. His election would help keep the Executive Council on the path it’s been on, a reactionary one. Our vote goes to Pappas.