Editorial: Ardinger is the right choice for District 15
People who vote in the Democratic primary in Senate District 15, which comprises Concord, Hopkinton Henniker and Warner, can’t make a bad choice.
The candidates, Dan Feltes and Kass Ardinger, take essentially the same position on major issues. Both, for example, oppose the death penalty and favor increasing the minimum wage. Both are lawyers active in civic life and well-qualified to represent their fellow citizens.
They differ, however, in life experience.
Ardinger is 54 and Feltes 35, and her additional two decades solving problems, dealing with adversity and working cooperatively were apparent in the Monitor’s meetings with the candidates.
Ardinger’s answers to the editorial board’s questions had a depth that can only come from much thought and long public experience. That experience makes her the best choice to replace veteran Sen. Sylvia Larsen.
School boards are mine fields. A wrong step and an issue can explode into a dispute that divides the community. Service on a school board is almost always thankless, fiscal prudence a necessity.
The ability to negotiate with fellow board members, school administrators, parents and unions is the key to success, and Ardinger demonstrated those skills in her eight years on Concord’s school board.
As its president, Ardinger oversaw what can only be considered a remarkable accomplishment – the replacement of four outmoded elementary schools with three new schools. All three came in under budget and ahead of time, and they were built without increasing the city’s tax rate.
The accomplishment speaks to Ardinger’s ability to lead and her sensitivity to how decisions made by government affect taxpayers.
Several side issues marred the contest between Feltes and Ardinger.
The first was the early endorsement of Ardinger by the outgoing Sen. Larsen.
While it’s standard practice for office holders to seek a like-minded replacement, Larsen’s endorsement of Ardinger was clumsy. It gave the impression that she was anointing her successor. That angered many, but in the end it’s up to voters to decide who will best represent them. In this case, we believe that’s Ardinger.
The second distraction has been the mischaracterization by the Feltes campaign of Ardinger’s position on full-day kindergarten.
The decision to provide full-day kindergarten, barring statewide legislation to do so, is made at the local level so the issue is, at best, tangential.
Ardinger, as the mother of three children, one with a disability, is well-versed in the debate over full-day kindergarten, and she supports adopting it. Her opposition to it, as reflected in the minutes of a 2009 school board meeting, should be placed in context.
The question before the board was not to endorse or oppose full-day kindergarten but to add rooms to the new schools to accommodate a future decision to extend the kindergarten day.
Adding rooms would have increased the budget for the school construction project, affected the tax rate, increased opposition to the project and proven unnecessary if school enrollments declined as predicted. The decision by the board not to add extra rooms was unanimous and smart.
New Hampshire must make some tough decisions in the next few years. Ardinger has the right mix of experience, idealism and pragmatism to work effectively with senators of either party to make those decisions. She is the best choice for District 15 voters.