State House Memo: The questions voters should ask themselves

Last modified: Wednesday, July 16, 2014
In September, we have a primary and in November, a general election. Our primaries will draw about 15 percent of our electorate, which is a shame because this is as important an election as the general, when candidates of each party are chosen, some of them incumbents, some of them challengers.

So not only should we come out to vote but we should also ask ourselves how well do we know these candidates?

If incumbents: Have they returned your phone calls or emails?

If you needed help with a state agency, were they helpful?

If they voted against your wishes on a specific bill, did they have an honest rationale for their vote?

Did they listen to your concerns or lecture you about theirs?

Did they dismiss you out of hand if you are a constituent from the opposing party?

Were they responsive to your selectmen’s requests in dealings with the state or did they simply ignore them?

For both incumbents and challengers: Has he or she volunteered in our towns?

Have we seen them at selectmen’s meetings, school board meetings and were their comments useful or simply inflammatory?

Have they been to our town fairs, at a community spaghetti dinner, an ice cream social?

Is their literature telling us what they will do for us, our towns, our state or is it simply an attack on their opponent?

Are these candidates speaking out in anger, telling us they have all the answers or are they willing to admit that nothing is black and white and difficult problems cannot be solved easily?

Are they willing to compromise to achieve some of their goals or do they believe compromise is a dirty word?

Answers to these questions will likely tell you what kind of state representative or state senator they might be if elected.

In the last two years, we have had a Legislature that has functioned in a bipartisan way, moved the state forward and used common sense as its guiding principle.

Reasonable Democrats and Republicans in New Hampshire have shown that the gridlock we have in Washington need not happen here in the Granite State.

While we did not agree on everything, we managed to keep our emotions in check (most of us), were civil toward one another and respected each other’s position without resorting to name-calling.

I am proud to have served in this Legislature and happy to call many in both parties friends.

I hope that when voters go to the polls in September and November, they will have familiarized themselves with the various candidates.

We need people who are mature, experienced, willing to work hard and get along with others.

That is why our primaries are so important.

Once chosen, our candidates are here to stay in the general election.

Shouldn’t more than 15 percent of voters make that choice?

In November, before we reflexively check an R or a D on the ballot, we should know who we are voting for.

I trust the politically savvy New Hampshire voters will come out to vote on primary day as well as in November and make an informed choice.

(Mario Ratzki is a Democratic state representative from East Andover.)