My Turn: As District 15 candidate, health care and education among priorities
This week, I declared my candidacy as a Democrat for the District 15 State Senate seat representing Concord, Henniker, Hopkinton and Warner. Over the next months, I look forward to hearing the hopes and concerns of the district’s voters, and campaigning to win their support based on my beliefs and my record of public service as an eight-year member of the Concord School Board.
My Democratic values result from my experiences as a lifelong resident of New Hampshire. I grew up in Claremont, where I graduated from Stevens High School. I am the granddaughter of Greek immigrants, who instilled in our family the high value of education.
My grandmother worked in the textile mills in Manchester, putting irons in her dress pockets in order to meet the weight requirements for work. My grandfather was a barber. Even though they struggled to make ends meet, my grandparents managed to send all five of their children to college.
One was my uncle, Harry Spanos, who went from Newport public schools to Harvard, became a lawyer, was elected state senator and eventually ran as the Democratic nominee against the incumbent governor, Meldrim Thompson. As a teenager supporting my uncle’s campaign, I learned the importance of public service as one means of making our communities stronger – though I never anticipated that I would one day run for public office.
My family’s experience has instilled in me a belief in the transformative power of public education. My service on the Concord School Board demonstrates my commitment to improving opportunities for the next generations.
As school board president, I helped develop community consensus to support the construction of three new elementary schools. The Mill Brook, Abbott-Downing and McAuliffe schools were delivered on time and under budget and provide high-quality learning environments for students throughout Concord. I am very proud of our city’s support for these efforts. I have been very fortunate to work with talented administrators, teachers and parents, all of whom are striving to deliver quality education to Concord’s families.
In addition to supporting public education, I believe government has an important role to play in ensuring access to affordable, quality health care. I am proud of my three children, and especially proud of my youngest, who survived a life-threatening illness at age 3. Now 22, her grit and determination to survive and thrive, despite ongoing challenges, is surpassed only by the excellent health care she received and continues to receive, thanks to good insurance coverage due to employer-provided health benefits.
Throughout our country today, there exist other parents with children who face serious illnesses, but do not have access to the kind of treatment we had for our daughter. This is not acceptable, and New Hampshire’s expansion of Medicaid is a good first step to remedy this failure. We must continue to improve services and networks, so that all our citizens have access to local, high quality health services.
Quality public education and access to good health care are the basic building blocks of a vibrant economy and prosperous society. Still, our policy choices should not only encourage entrepreneurship and success but also must protect our most vulnerable neighbors when they need a helping hand. Together, we must provide supports that allow all citizens to be productive members of our communities and to live lives of dignity and respect.
Public education, access to health care and protecting those in need – these are basic values that lead me to seek the District 15 state Senate seat. During this campaign, I look forward to hearing from voters in District 15 about the issues and values that are important to them.
(Kass Ardinger of Concord is a candidate for the District 15 state Senate seat.)