Editorial: Kelly is right choice for governor

Published: 11/1/2018 12:05:02 AM

Today, in this nation, the fires of division are being fanned daily by President Donald Trump, and many midterm elections will be as much a referendum on him as on the merits of the candidates on the ballot. That, inescapably, is the case in this year’s gubernatorial race as well.

Trump is only the first major factor in our decision whether to recommend that Gov. Chris Sununu be given another term or whether to endorse his opponent, former Democratic state senator Molly Kelly. The second is that neither candidate has adequately addressed the biggest issue facing the state: ever-escalating property taxes, and the gross and unconstitutional inequities in the state’s funding of public education. But we know that Sununu, with his fervent support for a school voucher program that would direct money away from public schools, would increase those inequities.

Our vote goes to Kelly. We believe that, if elected, she would do everything possible to make good on her promise to build a New Hampshire that works for everybody, including school children in places like Franklin, Pittsfield, Allenstown and Claremont.

Sununu is affable, approachable, energetic and not without accomplishments. But unlike Kelly, his positions on a host of issues run counter to those of this paper, and we believe to the best interests of New Hampshire. We’ll get to those, but first there’s Trump. Sununu supports his policies, though not his deportment in office. The president’s policies, with scant exception, range from wrong to repugnant.

Sununu’s stance on many state issues does not merit support. His business tax cuts are a big, unsought-after gift to large corporations. They hurt the state’s ability to take major steps to meet its responsibilities to public education, infrastructure, mental health, children, corrections reform and the developmentally disabled. Kelly would roll back the unnecessary cut to the business profits tax and, we believe, put an end to the state’s practice of downshifting more and more costs to property owners and renters. Having spent eight years as chair of the Governor’s Advanced Manufacturing Council, she understands the real needs of business, which is not tax cuts but the ready availability of a skilled workforce.

For an environmental engineer, Sununu’s position on climate change is surprising and disappointing. He only reluctantly acknowledges its reality, and at a time when governors are increasing their efforts to shift away from fossil fuels – North Carolina’s governor just set the goal of reducing that state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2025 – he has not taken the lead but stymied progress.

As a legislator, Kelly sponsored the bill that created the net metering program, which requires utilities to pay a premium, up to a cap, for non-polluting power from small solar projects. A bill to increase that cap passed with overwhelming support. Sununu vetoed it, ostensibly to protect ratepayers from paying an extra buck or two per month for green power. The veto mothballed efforts by municipalities to install solar farms that would reduce residents’ tax bills. The governor’s math works only if you ignore the cost to ratepayers of more global warming and more cases of asthma, heart disease and other pollution-related ills. Kelly supports increasing the net metering cap.

Every week in America brings news of mass shootings, drive-by murders, domestic homicides and suicides by gun. Kelly supports reasonable gun-control legislation, including universal background checks and limits on the availability of weaponry designed for war, not sport. She would not, as Sununu did in the first bill he signed, eliminate the need for a police background check before legally carrying a concealed weapon. Sununu believes the state’s gun laws are adequate. They aren’t.

Finally, New Hampshire is the only state in New England that continues to support the death penalty. The Legislature has twice voted to abolish capital punishment, but the effort failed for want of gubernatorial support. Kelly would sign a bill repealing the death penalty. Sununu vetoed the last attempt.

Molly Kelly is our choice to be the next governor of New Hampshire.

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