Ryan Buchanan: Secretary of state race needs facts, not smears

For the Monitor
Published: 11/20/2018 12:14:58 AM

I am a newly elected state representative still learning my way in Concord. The false statements against secretary of state candidate Colin Van Ostern that some longtime politicians are pushing in an attempt to prevent much-needed change do not represent the change that the voters of New Hampshire demanded in this historic midterm.

I know that Sen. Bob Giuda’s recent claim that Colin is funded with “out-of-state, special interest money . . . lots of it” is just not true. The reason I know that is because I checked for myself in the public Google spreadsheet where Van Ostern posted every single receipt and expenditure in his campaign for any lawmaker or member of the public to view. Ninety percent of his contributions are from New Hampshire and zero are from any PAC or corporation. Why would anyone twist these facts into a false attack when they can be checked so easily?

As a new representative the only way I even know how to navigate some of this is because Colin Van Ostern’s campaign has provided me and other candidates more clarity in understanding the secretary of state’s complicated forms and financial filing systems, more policy overviews about the office and more nonpartisan education in how our N.H. voting laws work than any other source I’ve seen in the past year.

The information Van Ostern’s campaign has provided has been an information-based and sorely needed public service for voters and candidates like me. In all of that help, not once – not once – have I heard him criticize either political party or endorse me or any other candidate.

A fellow new lawmaker from the other party has been open with us about what’s going on here. It’s a strategy he’s skeptical of, too. Some Republican leaders are trying to pressure every single Republican lawmaker to vote against change in the secretary of state’s office and bully enough Democrats into flipping to vote against this change as well. I for one will not fall prey to this trap, and I urge you, the voters, to avoid it as well.

It is this tactic of fear mongering that the voters of this great state voted against this November. The tactic is, “If you can’t win on the facts and the law, then yell and bang on the table.” It is a sign that this is a change that the establishment fears and hates. Those who are fighting change are the same ones who enjoy that power the system gives them and the strength it takes from you. It is very telling to me that Van Ostern is talking about real facts and issues that affect me and my community, and those trying to attack him out of a cynical political strategy are yelling and banging on the table instead.

Shouldn’t we have a real discussion about the fact that new legislative candidates like me – much less voters – can barely navigate their way through the secretary of state’s website and its complicated forms?

Shouldn’t we talk about how we can better fix the town meeting blizzard mess that our state has mismanaged for two years in a row now, when local town officials got confusion instead of cooperation from the secretary of state’s office?

Because of detailed, well-sourced policy papers sent out to every legislator by Colin Van Ostern, I have fair questions, questions that come from my work as a financial municipal auditor, about why the secretary of state’s office hasn’t received a full financial audit in over 11 years. That’s not a red or blue issue. Let’s fix it together.

In my limited interactions with the staff of the secretary of state’s office, they struck me as kind and dedicated. When I heard Gardner speak in the Democratic caucus, he seemed like a quiet, history-loving individual. But he lacks the strength needed to foster the change in the system that controls the most fundamental right, a right I defended as a member of the Navy, the right to a free and fair election.

I am so grateful Colin Van Ostern is running for this job. Our state can’t be stuck in 1976. Forty-two years in office is a long time, and smears against Secretary Gardner’s opponent or attempts to turn a nonpartisan race into a partisan grudge match against Van Ostern are not helping Secretary Gardner’s case. Let’s stick to the issues.

(Ryan Buchanan is an incoming state representative for Concord Ward 6.)

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