×

Cilley vows no pledges as governor



Last modified: Wednesday, February 08, 2012
Democratic former state senator Jackie Cilley announced her run for governor yesterday, promising to champion workers' rights while drawing a bright line between her and her primary opponent.

'I won't play pledge politics with the future of our state,' Cilley told an energetic crowd inside the YWCA in Manchester, a location chosen because it once housed young women who came to the city to work in the mills.

Former Senate Democratic leader Maggie Hassan of Exeter, who announced her gubernatorial candidacy in October, has vowed to veto any proposal of a state sales or income tax. Democratic Gov. John Lynch, who has decided against running for a fifth term, made similar promises that won him favor with Republicans. Cilley yesterday dismissed such pledges as 'simplistic' and said citizens 'deserve to be heard regardless of the issue.'

'If one takes enough pledges, they never have to think about anything again,' she said. 'My candidacy and my administration, if elected, will be based on an unwavering belief in the intelligence of our people to have any conversation they choose without my telling them in advance I will not listen to them.'

Cilley represented Barrington in the New Hampshire House and Senate before losing her seat, like Hassan, to a Republican in 2010. Cilley said 'the Free State-Tea Party-John Birch politicians in Concord' are 'doing all that they can to unravel the social contract we have with our working families.'

'I ask you: Is this what New Hampshire really stands for? Is this good enough for our workers? Can we do better than this?' Cilley said.

She said she would not compromise in her defense of workers' collective bargaining power, abortion rights or the state's same-sex marriage law.

'There is no credible ability to negotiate between a myth and a fact,' Cilley said. 'There is no halfway point between a lie and the truth.'

Diana Lacey, president of the State Employees' Association, was in attendance. Lacey said she was invited to Cilley's announcement but not Hassan's.

'Jackie is having real conversations, and what she's doing is she's refusing to handcuff her from those conversations,' Lacey said. 'We're seeing governors that for years have handcuffed themselves to the New Hampshire pledge. The time has gone for simple pledges. The time has come for real, hard-work conversations.'

Cilley's refusal to take an anti-income tax pledge could rally support within the state's Democratic base, but her stance will be a tougher sell to the wider electorate.

A University of New Hampshire poll released yesterday showed 46 percent of independents support a constitutional amendment banning the adoption of a state income tax, compared with 30 percent who would oppose such a ban.

Among Democrats, 55 percent oppose the ban and 23 percent support it.

Harry Judd, chairman of the Bow selectmen, attended yesterday's event in support of Cilley. Judd praised her forthrightness on the tax pledge issue.

'She's not trying to be everything to everybody,' Judd said. 'That's who she is, and that's great to see.'

Cilley was born in Berlin. Her parents were mill workers, and Cilley was the first in her family to attend college. She holds an MBA from the University of New Hampshire and runs a farrier supply company with her husband, Bruce.

Judd was counsel to the state's nuclear decommissioning financing committee, on which Cilley sat while a senator.

Cilley would be a 'terrific business-minded governor,' Judd said.

'She sprinkles nails on her cereal in the morning, and at the same time, she has an unlimited reserve for compassion,' he said.

(Matthew Spolar can be reached at 369-3309 or mspolar@cmonitor.com.)