The Concord Monitor is launching its Environmental Reporting Lab, a long-term effort to better inform the community about the New Hampshire environment. To launch phase 1 of this effort, we need your help. The money raised will go toward hiring a full-time environmental reporter.

Please consider donating to this effort.


Youth vs. experience in state Senate race

Last modified: 9/8/2012 12:00:00 AM
The primary race for the state Senate seat representing towns in Merrimack and Belknap counties gives voters a choice between two very different Republicans.

Bill Grimm of Franklin is a traditional, fiscally conservative Republican who favors some abortion rights and has concerns about allowing guns on college campuses and the dispensing of medical marijuana.

Josh Youssef of Laconia places himself in the right wing of the Republican Party, describing himself as a "constitutional conservative" who opposes all abortions and backs medical marijuana and guns on campuses.

Their differences are equally stark when you compare their resumes.

Grimm was chairman of Franklin's school board and helped found a charter school in the city that has since closed. He's on the board of directors for the Lakes Region General Hospital and the city's drug task force leadership team.

He has served as chairman of the state Judicial Conduct Committee and worked closely on Sen. John McCain's 2000 presidential campaign, serving as co-chairman of the campaign's veterans' coalition. McCain has endorsed Grimm in this race.

Grimm was also named Franklin's Citizen of the Year in 2003 for his work on education.

This is Youssef's first run for elected office. He declined a request for a phone interview but described his community involvement in an email.

Youssef wrote that he is a regular donor to "various charities," local causes and food drives. He said he has also mentored young children, teenagers and young adults in the "development of entrepreneurship, business, sales and computer skills."

The District 7 Senate seat, which was reconfigured this year, includes Canterbury, Boscawen, Northfield, Belmont, Andover, Webster, Salisbury, Gilford, Franklin and Laconia. The winner of Tuesday's primary will face Democrat Andrew Hosmer of Laconia in the general election.

In his email, Youssef said he is running for the Senate because he believes the state is at a "critical crossroads in history after years of misguided leadership." He said he would bring a "fresh set of eyes" to the state's complex problems.

"It is time the people of New Hampshire elected commonsense constitutional conservatives," he wrote.

Among Youssef's priorities is fostering a business-friendly economic and political climate to create jobs. Other priorities include creating "attainable solutions" for the state's "broken" education and health care systems. Asked to elaborate on how he'd approach those goals, Youssef did not respond.

Grimm said he got into the race primarily because he has concerns about the state budget. "We have to get a control on spending," he said

Grimm declined to comment on most of this Legislature's specific budget decisions, including a cut to the cigarette tax and the state university system budget, saying he didn't know enough about the broader budget discussions that led to those cuts.

He did say he thought it was wrong for the Legislature to eliminate Medicaid Enhancement Tax payments to the state's hospitals after promising them they'd get the money. While he understands the Legislature did so to balance the budget, Grimm said of the hospital cuts that "promises made should be promises kept."

Grimm's solution would be to reconsider long-term spending commitments and apply four questions to all spending requests: Does it make future spending commitments higher? Does it encourage job creation? Does it downshift state obligations to local communities? Does it result in higher taxes?

Grimm, like Youssef, has taken the pledge against a broad-based tax. But Grimm thinks the pledge should also include a promise to rein in spending.

"With spending at its current levels and the continuing acceptance of more long-term liabilities, our financial system is becoming unsustainable," he said.

The Monitor asked Grimm and Youssef for their positions on several issues that are likely to be part of the legislative debate next term.

• On abortion, Youssef said he is "100 percent pro-life" and doesn't believe in exceptions for rape or incest. "The founding documents of the United States enumerate a basic right to life," he wrote.

Grimm said he believes in "the sanctity of life" but said he struggles with where to set limits on abortion. He opposes late-term abortions but wonders how much decision-making the government should take from a pregnant woman. He said he would make exceptions for rape and incest early in a pregnancy.

• Youssef and Grimm both support right-to-work legislation that would prevent unions from collecting fees from nonmembers. That bill was tabled in the Senate this year after passing the House.

• Youssef would have supported a bill this year allowing any employer to drop birth control from its employee health plan if it had a religious objection. Grimm said he would have opposed that legislation. It failed this session.

• Youssef said in his email that he favors medical marijuana but did not elaborate. Grimm said he would support doctors being allowed to prescribe marijuana but has concerns about dispensing it. He would like it dispensed by a doctor or in a way that prevents abuse.

• The candidates disagree sharply on the Northern Pass hydroelectric power line from Canada. The project calls for a $350 million investment in Franklin that includes a large converter station.

Grimm supports the project. But he said he wouldn't if he thought the project was bad for the rest of the state. "Obviously this is a good deal for Franklin," he said. "But if I thought everybody else was going to get screwed, I wouldn't be for it."

Grimm sees the hydropower as clean energy that will benefit the state. He would like to see the transmission lines buried where possible.

Youssef opposes Northern Pass. "I do not trust the state to refrain from use of eminent domain for this project," he wrote. "I would consider a plan which routes the power into a New Hampshire sub-station for distribution through the New Hampshire grid." The current plan would put the energy into the New England grid.

• This session, the Legislature considered allowing the open carry of firearms anywhere, including college campuses. The bill failed. Youssef said he would have supported that. Grimm said the legislation caused him concern.

"I'm a gun owner and I've been trained on how to use a gun," Grimm said. He also instructed others on gun safety when he was in the Navy. "I'm skeptical (about allowing guns on campuses) because I've actually had some experience training (gun users), and if you are not used to handling guns, it's easy to do something dangerous."

Both Grimm and Youssef are touting their business experience as credentials in this race.

Youssef owns Same Day Computer, a repair business that has locations across the state. He said he has created jobs, though he declined to say how many, and knows from running a business the importance of sound reasoning, critical thinking and leadership.

Grimm is a retired Wall Street trader. He was responsible for 2,000 employees during his time with Dean Witter, a stock brokerage and securities firm. He also co-founded a small technology business that employed 17 people.

Youssef grew up in Laconia. He has made headlines this year for going public with his contentious divorce, which he has asked the House Redress of Grievances Committee to review. The committee concluded this year that Youssef had been mistreated by the courts and has recommended the judges in the case be investigated for impeachment proceedings.

Grimm came to New Hampshire in the fifth grade but left the state to attend the U.S. Naval Academy and business school in California. When he retired, he returned to New Hampshire with his family.


Age: 65

Town: Franklin

Job: Retired, former Wall Street broker

Family: Married with four children

Education: U.S. Naval Academy, bachelor’s of science degree; University of Southern California, master’s degree in business and finance

Political experience: Served as chairman of Franklin’s school board


Age: 36

Town: Laconia

Job: Entrepreneur and software engineer; owns Same Day Computer

Family: Divorced with a son

Education: Studied computer science at Syracuse University and the University of New Hampshire

Political experience: None

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


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Concord Monitor, recently named the best paper of its size in New England.

Concord Monitor Office

1 Monitor Drive
Concord,NH 03301


© 2021 Concord Monitor
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy