Pappas waiting in wings in Executive Council District 4 race
District 4 Executive Councilor Chris Pappas of Manchester (center) speaks to a group of supporters last week. Also pictured is Gov. Maggie Hassan, Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley and state Sen. Lou D'Alessandro. Pappas's challenger, Maria Chilson, has not been actively campaigning. (
IAIN WILSON / Monitor staff)
District 4 Executive Councilor Chris Pappas (left), speaks to a group of supporters in Manchester last week. Pappas, a Democrat, is seeking reelection. His opponent, Maria Chilson, has not actively campaigned.
IAIN WILSON/Monitor staff
The winner of the Republican primary for the Executive Council District 4 seat will likely face incumbent Manchester Democrat Chris Pappas in the general election.
His opponent, Manchester resident Maria Chilson, has not actively campaigned since filing paperwork to run against Pappas in the Democratic primary. A spokeswoman for the state Democratic Party said the party does not have Chilson’s contact information, and the League of Women Voters canceled a candidate forum after a letter and phone message to Chilson went unanswered.
On Friday morning, Chilson said she was still in the race but is in the process of moving. “I don’t want to say too much before things are confirmed,” she said.
This clears the way for Pappas, who was elected in 2012 to represent the 19-community district that includes Allenstown, Bow, Chichester, Epsom, Loudon, Northwood, Pembroke, Pittsfield and Manchester. It is a unique district because it includes the state’s biggest city, suburban communities such as Derry and Londonderry, and smaller, agricultural towns like Lee, Pappas said.
“I think it provides a good cross-section of the state,” he said in an interview last week. “I hear the interests in the small communities, and they are similar to what I’m hearing from folks in Manchester.”
He is one of five members on the Executive Council, which acts as a check on the governor. The councilors must approve the governor’s judicial nominations and appointments of state agency heads, as well as state contracts of more than $10,000. Pappas is one of three Democrats on the council, and one of three members younger than 40.
Last week, he joined Gov. Maggie Hassan and state Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley at the opening of the Granite State Forward organizing office in Manchester. In an interview afterward, he said modernizing transportation infrastructure and creating a healthy New Hampshire continue to be pillars of his platform. He campaigned heavily on both ideas in 2012.
“I think because of the district’s centrality of the state – we’re at the nexus of all the interstate highways – transportation issues are really paramount,” he said. “You can’t get to one place in New Hampshire without passing through the greater Manchester or greater Concord area. It’s really important we continue to invest in our transportation infrastructure.”
To that end, he noted the council’s approval of $9.4 million for road widening on Interstate 93.
“That is an economic lifeline to the state, important both to local communities and the state in general, especially to tourism and the quality of life and life safety,” he said.
In 2013, the Executive Council approved a $3.7 million contract to conduct a feasibility study of rail service from Boston to Nashua, Manchester and Concord. Less than a year earlier, the previous council had rejected federal funding for a similar contract. “Rail is something that I believe could be in the mix,” he said.
“The last Executive Council turned away federal money to do the study, so it was a big campaign issue the last time around,” he said. “People see it as something that could reinvigorate the economy and really try to improve the qualify of life and change the dynamic in the downtown areas in the cities we are serving.”
Preliminary findings in the study are encouraging, he said. “Ultimately, it’s going to come down to dollars and cents and whether the state has the resources to support it,” he said.
Pappas said he has met with local officials in all 19 communities to get a sense of the issues. “They want good roads. They want transportation taken care of. They want to make sure Concord hasn’t passed the buck down to the local level,” he said.
In part, he ran in 2012 in response to a decision by the previous council to vote down a contract with Planned Parenthood clinics. The council has since voted to approve the contracts.
“It was an issue. There’s an issue pretty plainly where the council decided to make a political case about one particular provider at the expense of women and families that are relying on critical services,” he said.
In October, Pappas voted in favor of a special legislative session to consider Medicaid expansion, and in July the council approved a $292 million contract for providers to expand Medicaid to newly eligible participants.
Pappas said he sees the council as the state’s board of directors.
“It’s not the place to duke it out over a political issue,” he said. “It’s the place we need to try to get it right in terms of managing state government.”
(Iain Wilson can be reached at 369-3313 or email@example.com)