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Race for Governor: Frank Edelblut says N.H. should push back over transgender bathroom policy

  • Republican gubernatorial candidate Frank Edelblut attends a “Monitor” interview. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Frank Edelblut at the Monitor editorial board August 16, 2016.

Monitor staff
Published: 8/17/2016 1:53:52 AM

If elected governor, Republican Frank Edelblut would push back on the federal policy that calls for transgender people to use the bathroom matching their chosen identity, he said Tuesday.

“I don’t think we need the federal government dictating that type of policy to us,” said Edelblut, a first-term state representative from Wilton. “It’s a practical issue. I think that people should use the bathrooms that are associated with their physiological gender.”

Transgender issues have exploded as a national debate in recent months and New Hampshire has waded into the discussion. Attorney General Joe Foster recently signed onto a brief supporting the Obama administration’s guidelines on transgender student bathroom use.

The state doesn’t have a law on the books protecting transgender people from discrimination, but Gov. Maggie Hassan signed an executive order in June that bars such bias in state government.

Edelblut, locked in a Republican primary with three other candidates, didn’t say whether he would reverse that order.

Edelblut is pitching himself as a conservative Republican who is focused on growing business, and preserving family values. He is competing against state Sen. Jeanie Forrester Forrester, Ted Gatsas, the Manchester mayor, and Chris Sununu, an executive councilor.

In an interview with the Monitor editorial board, Edelblut said he supports repealing the state’s death penalty, decriminalizing marijuana, and overhauling the education system.

Edelblut said he would not sign an execution order for Michael Addison, the state’s only death row inmate. Addison was found guilty for the 2006 killing of Manchester police Officer Michael Briggs and sentenced to death.

“If somebody comes after me, or my family, I am happy to use force and I would use deadly force to protect myself,” Edelblut said. “But once someone has been incarcerated and they are no longer a threat to society, lock them up and throw away the key.”

Edeblut said he would sign a bill to decriminalize marijuana, and allow people to grow up to six plants in their home. While one gubernatorial candidate backs legalizing marijuana, Edelblut cautions one step at a time.

On education, Edelblut outlined an idea to overhaul the state’s public school system by letting students “personalize” their classes and potentially graduate from high school courses in two years.

Edelblut, an accountant who sold his consulting business in 2009, homeschooled his seven children.

While the fight over state education aid for local school districts has been fought fiercely over the last two decades, Edelblut said his proposed changes wouldn’t cost additional dollars, they would just reshuffle what’s already there.

He doesn’t support increasing state adequacy aid for the districts that implement full-day kindergarten programs. It’s not necessary, he said, because more than half of public schools already offer the full-day option without the extra state money.

Edelblut does not support bringing commuter rail from Massachusetts to Southern New Hampshire.

“I do have a lot of experience with the millennial generation,” he said. “The last thing they want to do is roll out of bed and get on the train and ride it for an hour-and-a-half to go to work in Boston. They will get an apartment in Boston if that’s where they’re working.”

Edelblut backed a bill to bring the electronic lottery game keno to New Hampshire, and would do the same as governor, he said. But he doesn’t back casino gambling.

Edelblut opposes legislation to expand background checks for gun purchases. He is against sending mental health records to the federal gun background check system that is used to vet prospective buyers. “Mental illness, in all cases, is not a crime,” he said. New Hampshire is one of a handful of states that do not currently submit that information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Edelblut agrees with Hassan’s call last year for the U.S. to temporarily stop accepting Syrian refugees, while the government strengthens the vetting process.

As governor, Edelblut said he would work to ensure incoming refugees’ health and criminal backgrounds are screened. Most refugees in New Hampshire are resettled in Concord, Laconia, Manchester and Nashua, but Edelblut said they should be distributed across the state.

“When immigrants are coming into our communities we tend to pile them all into one place, we create these enclaves,” he said. “Imagine if every community took one family . . . the kids would learn how to speak English, they would become more assimilated.”

(Allie Morris can be reached at 360-3307 or amorris@cmonitor.com)




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