NH Senate 8 candidates differ on abortion rules, school vouchers

  • Democrat Charlene Marcotte Lovett, left, and Republican state Sen. Ruth Ward. —Courtesy

Keene Sentinel 
Published: 11/4/2022 4:17:30 PM
Modified: 11/4/2022 4:17:12 PM

While finding some common ground on the use of renewable resources, N.H. Sen. Ruth Ward of Stoddard and Claremont resident Charlene Lovett differ when it comes to school vouchers and abortion.

The two are squaring off in the Nov. 8 general election for state Senate District 8, which includes Gilsum, Stoddard, Marlow, Acworth, Langdon, Charlestown, Claremont and Bennington, along with other communities. Ward, a Republican, is seeking her fourth term.

Both she and Lovett have prioritized lowering home energy and heating costs. And Lovett, a Democrat, said she thinks part of the solution to tackling those mounting bills is through renewable-energy technology.

“Part of the reason [for rising costs] is our reliance on fossil fuel energy,” said Lovett, 59, who worked in U.S. Army intelligence for 22 years. “The faster that we transition over to renewable energy or at minimum have a stronger portfolio, the less susceptible we’ll be to these fluctuations.”

In an email to The Sentinel, Ward, 85, said she would support taking “an all of the above energy approach,” which would include using renewable resources such as solar and hydropower where possible, while also still using traditional fossil fuels.

“Granite State families filling their oil tanks to heat their homes this winter are going to feel the shock of rising costs more than ever before,” said Ward, a retired nurse.

Ward, chair of the Senate Education Committee, is also a proponent of New Hampshire’s Education Freedom Accounts, which provide grants to be used to pay some of a child’s expenses at a private school. They are billed as offering more choices for families who want their children out of public school but can’t afford private-school tuition.

The N.H. Department of Education reported that as of Sept. 9, the one-year-old program was serving 3,025 students, most of whom were already attending private school.

“This program allows lower income families the ability to divert a piece of their individual education funding to a school of their choice. Whether it is a charter school, a private school or any other, the point is that the choice belongs to the parents and the students,” Ward wrote. “They are no longer simply beholden to their zip codes.”

Meanwhile, Lovett thinks the state Legislature should be directing more of its dollars toward public education, especially with taxpayers footing a majority of the cost.

“That’s not sustainable,” she said. “I believe we should be on a 50/50 partnership between local taxpayers and the state.”

On her campaign website, Lovett echoed a common argument against vouchers — that diverting funds from public school districts to expand “school choice” comes at the expense of public education.

“To have true school choice, all options must work — not one sacrificed for another,” she stated.

Lovett also said she thinks it’s important for the state to provide affordable child care so parents can more readily engage in the workforce and bolster the economy. Part of that solution, she thinks, is generating more funding to offer better pay to child care workers.

“We cannot expect people to do what I think is the hardest job and not pay them decently,” she said. “We need to value that profession more.”

Ward wrote that legislators “need to look at what barriers are preventing more potential child care providers from entering the market and address the issue there.”

On abortion, Ward supports legislation passed last year that prohibits most abortions in New Hampshire after 24 weeks of pregnancy. There are exceptions to save a woman’s life or for fetuses with fatal anomalies.

The debate on abortion has been heightened since June when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to the procedure.

Lovett, who does not support the current abortion law in New Hampshire, said abortion access is one of her top issues and a primary reason she’s running for office.

She said she thinks there shouldn’t be any cutoff on abortion and that she would support codifying reproductive rights in the Granite State.

“The government cannot anticipate every variable or every scenario in a person’s life,” she said. “These are very personal decisions and should remain between the individuals involved and their health care provider. When government tries to insert itself in this decision making process, they do great harm and we are seeing this play out across the nation.”




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