Five candidates fight for three N.H. state representative seats in District 10

Last modified: Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Five candidates are competing this fall for three slots in the state House of Representatives to represent Merrimack County District 10, which includes Hopkinton and Concord Ward 5.

While only two of the five are current state legislators, most of the candidates running have been on a local ballot in the past.

Democratic state Reps. Mary Jane Wallner and Mel Myler are both District 10 incumbents running for re-election. Hopkinton resident Gary Richardson, who had served four terms representing the district, announced his retirement in the spring.

Joining Myler and Wallner on the Democratic ticket this cycle is first-time candidate George Langwasser, vice chairman of the Hopkinton Board of Selectmen.

Dave Luneau, chairman of the Hopkinton School Board, is running in the general election as an independent. He ran a write-in campaign in the Democratic primary in September, but didn’t earn enough votes to be on the party’s ticket in November. Luneau has earned endorsements from both Myler and Wallner.

Barbara Mitera, a Concord resident, is the sole Republican candidate for state representative.

The election is Nov. 4.

George Langwasser

In his 67 years as a Hopkinton resident, George Langwasser has served on the school board, planning board, zoning board and board of selectmen. He is now in his ninth year on the board of selectmen, and his current term expires in 2015.

Langwasser, 76, has worked in the Merrimack County Sheriff’s Office for 20 years.

In his campaign for state representative, Langwasser said he is concerned about a number of issues also relevant to his experience as a selectman – namely tax rates and the money the state owes the town of Hopkinton for the Merrimack River Flood Control Compact.

“All of these things add up, and people feel like they’re battered from pillar to post,” Langwasser said.

He said he is also concerned about education, women’s issues and the rights of citizens.

In the September primary, Langwasser received significantly more votes in Concord Ward 5 than write-in candidate Dave Luneau. The tally came to 267-92. But Luneau received about 40 more votes, 362-325, in Hopkinton. Both Wallner and Myler received more votes in Hopkinton and Concord than any of the other candidates.

Langwasser said a candidate, who he declined to name, has asked him to withdraw his campaign from the general election to back one of the other four candidates.

“I made the commitment that I was going to run to represent the town of Hopkinton, and I’m going to fulfill that commitment,” he said.

Langwasser is married and lives with his wife.

Dave Luneau

Although he did not win enough votes in the primary to be on the Democratic ticket in the general election, Dave Luneau of Contoocook said running as an independent was always his backup plan.

“It’s really a way to continue to make a meaningful contribution to our community, and I didn’t want that to be left up to chance of a very tough write-in campaign,” Luneau said. “There’s a strong sense of independence here in New Hampshire, too. I hope the fact that if people see me on the independent column, that they’ll consider coloring in that oval.”

Luneau, 49, is the co-founder and president of ClassCo Inc., a technology company based in Concord. He has been on the Hopkinton School Board for eight years, serving as chairman for seven. He has lived in Hopkinton since age 5 and graduated from Hopkinton High School, where his son is now a senior; his daughter attends the University of New Hampshire. He is an advisory board member at NHTI and an industrial advisory board member at the University of New Hampshire at Manchester. He lives with his wife.

If elected as a state representative, Luneau said he would like to remain on the school board.

Education is a key area for Luneau, as well as entrepreneurship, new business development, local property tax relief and getting Hopkinton the flood control money the town says it is owed by Massachusetts.

“The state needs to be able to meet its obligations,” Luneau said.

Many key areas for Luneau are similar to Langwasser’s priorities.

“I look at this as a race between Luneau and Langwasser,” Luneau said. “But from a practical matter, anything could happen. You’ve got five people vying for three spots.”

Barbara Mitera

The only Republican running for the District 10 seat, Barbara Mitera was uncontested in her party’s primary.

A 26-year resident of Concord, Mitera said that she values a system of checks and balances – and with so many Democrats holding local seats, she said the district is unbalanced.

“I would bring in Republican views and balance the scale a little bit,” she said.

For the past four and a half years, Mitera has worked at Concord Hospital as a security officer and an instructor of management of aggressive behavior.

She said her professional experience was a driving force in her decision to run for state representative. Mental health is the centerpiece of her platform, she said. In December, state officials settled a lawsuit over New Hampshire’s mental health resources, which alleged people had been needlessly confined to hospitals because they could not find treatment or support in their communities. Mental health patients were staying for days in ill-equipped hospital emergency rooms.

The settlement requires the state to spend about $9 million on community treatment options through July 2016, along with $2.2 million reimbursing the plaintiffs’ legal fees.

“During my tenure at the hospital, I’ve become concerned with the lack of support for New Hampshire youth suffering with mental illness,” Mitera said. “It’s definitely a growing concern.”

Mitera said she believes the state could benefit from her experience and education. She received a bachelor’s degree from Franklin Pierce and a master’s degree in justice studies from Southern New Hampshire University.

She lives with her husband of 27 years and has two grown children.

Mel Myler

Mel Myler, a Contoocook resident, is in his first term as state representative. Myler, 70, has a background in education and sits on the House Education Committee.

When Myler first ran for office, he said he was motivated to be a state representative because he was upset with the lack of leadership from former New Hampshire speaker of the House Bill O’Brien and wanted to bring civility and integrity back to the state house. “The reason I’m running again is I want to maintain that same sense of civility, that same sense of bipartisanship,” he said.

During the last legislative session, lawmakers came up with a plan that uses federal Medicaid dollars to help poor adults purchase private health plans on the exchange. Expanding Medicaid in New Hampshire will extend insurance coverage to about 50,000 low-income adults under the Affordable Care Act.

Myler said he was glad to see the deal come together with support from both sides of the aisle.

“We demonstrated that there is away you can develop a bipartisan approach,” he said. “I want to make sure there is no regression in Medicaid expansion.”

Myler worked in public education for 48 years. He was the executive director the National Education Association in New Hampshire for 21 years, and he retired from that organization in 2008.

Myler has lived in Contoocook for 32 years with his wife, Diane.

Mary Jane Wallner

A 34-year veteran of the state House of Representatives, Concord resident Mary Jane Wallner is making a bid for her 18th term in the Legislature.

Wallner, 67, is chairwoman of the House Finance Committee. One of the Legislature’s tasks during the next session will be to pass New Hampshire’s next two-year budget.

“I felt that we had done a good job of putting together a budget that both Democrats and Republicans supported, and the governor supported,” Wallner said. “I would really like to continue working on the budget and working in a bipartisan way to address the needs of the state.”

From 2007 to 2010, Wallner was the House Majority Leader. During the last session, Wallner was one of the sponsors of a bill that would have repealed the death penalty in New Hampshire; that legislation was tabled by the state Senate. She also worked on a deal that restructured the Medicaid Enhancement Tax and stopped 25 of the New Hampshire’s 26 hospitals from suing the state.

If re-elected, Wallner said she would hope to find more money for mental health services in New Hampshire and address the state’s minimum wage.

“In New Hampshire, people cannot support a family on minimum wage,” Wallner said. “I think we need to take a look at what should the minimum wage be, what do people need.”

Wallner is also the executive director of the Merrimack Valley Day Care Service in Concord, where she has worked for more than 41 years.

“I like to think that I’m accessible to the people in my district, usually just a phone call away or an email away,” Wallner said.

(Susan Doucet can be reached at 369-3309, sdoucet@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @susan_doucet. Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321, mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)