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Senate District 7 candidates Andrew Hosmer, Joshua Youssef debate

  • Andrew Hosmer and Joshua Youssuf, candidates for the state Senate seat in District 7, faced off in a debate  on October 22, 2012. Franklin, NH.<br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH/Monitor Staff)

    Andrew Hosmer and Joshua Youssuf, candidates for the state Senate seat in District 7, faced off in a debate on October 22, 2012. Franklin, NH.

    (SAMANTHA GORESH/Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Andrew Hosmer and Joshua Youssuf, candidates for the state Senate seat in District 7, faced off in a debate  on October 22, 2012. Franklin, NH.<br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH/Monitor Staff)

    Andrew Hosmer and Joshua Youssuf, candidates for the state Senate seat in District 7, faced off in a debate on October 22, 2012. Franklin, NH.

    (SAMANTHA GORESH/Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Andrew Hosmer and Joshua Youssuf, candidates for the state Senate seat in District 7, faced off in a debate  on October 22, 2012. Franklin, NH.<br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH/Monitor Staff)
  • Andrew Hosmer and Joshua Youssuf, candidates for the state Senate seat in District 7, faced off in a debate  on October 22, 2012. Franklin, NH.<br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH/Monitor Staff)

State Senate candidates Josh Youssef and Andrew Hosmer differed sharply last night on nearly every issue facing the state, from business taxes and education to abortion and gambling.

The two, who are running for the District 7 seat that represents Franklin, Laconia, Andover, Belmont, Boscawen, Canterbury, Gilford, Northfield, Salisbury and Webster, met last night at the Franklin Opera House for a lively debate before a full house.

Youssef, a Laconia Republican, said he’d “shelve” the state’s business profits and enterprise taxes for five years to entice new companies to the state. Privatizing higher education would encourage much-needed competition, he said. He’d outlaw all abortions and oppose a casino in the state.

No. 1 on Youssef’s list, though, would be shrinking government. “New Hampshire does not have a revenue problem,” Youssef said. “It has a spending problem.”

Not quite, said Hosmer, a Laconia Democrat. The state has both a spending and revenue problem, he said.

Hosmer favors restoring state money to its universities and community colleges because he believes a well-educated and trained work force will bring new businesses to New Hampshire. He would also double the business research and development tax credit.

Hosmer said he’d “drill down” on the state budget to look for efficiencies but also support a single, highly regulated casino in the state to bring more money into state coffers.

Abortion, Hosmer said, should be “legal, safe and rare” and decisions about abortion should be left to a woman and her doctor.

And he vehemently dismissed Youssef’s proposal to suspend business profits taxes for five years as “fool hardy and short-sighted.” Hosmer said: “It would put a hole in the state budget of hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The two were mostly cordial to one another but grew testy when asked whether they’d spend more money preventing domestic violence and protecting its victims.

Hosmer said he would and cited a report released yesterday by the state attorney general’s office that showed 92 percent of homicides and suicides in the state in the past 10 years were related to domestic violence. He said making sure courts are available to people seeking restraining orders could help save lives. The same would be true, he said, if shelters had the money to take in more victims.

Youssef said he agreed that no one should suffer abuse and that perpetrators should be held accountable as long as government was also “protecting the rights of the innocent.”

He added, “But there also needs to be education at these intervention levels so that these people understand not to go back to a violent lifestyle.

That upset Hosmer, who accused Youssef of blaming domestic violence victims. “To call that a lifestyle choice, it’s shameful,” he said.

Youssef responded, “That’s not what I said or what I intended.” Then, referring to Hosmer’s past work as an assistant district attorney, Youssef said, “Reframed, like a prosecutor.” He then said he felt like he was “in a deposition.”

Both candidates touted their business experience last night.

Hosmer is the general manager of AutoServ in Tilton, a business owned by his wife’s family. Hosmer said he employs 150 people across the state and would bring the same budget setting priorities to the state as he does his business.

Youssef owns Same Day Computer, a computer repair business with five franchise locations. He said each location employs “between 1 and 10 people at any given time.”

Youssef said if elected he would question every state expense and “think outside the box.” He questioned why some state departments have a deputy commissioner in addition to a commissioner. He also believes a number of state agencies are over-staffed with layers of bureaucracy.

“If we reduce our spending problem, we won’t have a need for taxation,” Youssef said. “I want to make New Hampshire a more efficient, lean machine.”

The questions put to Hosmer and Youssef came from the audience, and one listener asked them to elaborate on their gambling positions.

Hosmer said New Hampshire stands to lose “millions in revenue” if it does not actively court a casino because Maine and Massachusetts are building casinos on the borders. He’d want a casino closely regulated and would expect the casino to pay for the social costs that come with gambling.

Hosmer called the jobs and tax revenue a casino would bring the state a “shot in the arm.”

Youssef said he couldn’t support a single casino “monopoly” created by the state if just one license was issued because he believes in the free market, nor does he support widespread gambling across the state.

Youssef said allowing commercial gambling into New Hampshire will jeopardize the gaming proceeds nearly 100 charities realize now through their state gaming licenses. And, he said, allowing a casino to open in New Hampshire will create a new bureaucracy the state will have to support with taxes.

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

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