Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls stake out positions at Dover forumBy KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent
June 22. 2016 9:55PM
DOVER — Funding for Planned Parenthood, Medicaid expansion, the state’s opioid crisis, and a passenger rail line between southern New Hampshire and Boston were topics touched on by Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls at a forum held Wednesday evening at the McConnell Center in Dover.
Participating were Mark Connolly of New Castle, Steve Marchand of Portsmouth, and Colin Van Ostern of Concord.
Van Ostern, a current executive councilor, started a round of opening statements by saying he is running for governor, “so we can build a stronger economy where everyone in New Hampshire has a chance to succeed, and not just those at the top.”
Van Ostern mentioned restoring funding for Planned Parenthood, and making Medicaid expansion permanent. If said if elected governor, he would work to expand passenger rail from Boston.
Van Ostern said people in New Hampshire have to work. It is rare for families to have someone able to stay at home for child care every day. That is just one reason to support and protect public education, he said.
“We must have full-day public kindergarten in every community in New Hampshire,” Van Ostern said.
Marchand said he has the most executive experience of the three candidates because he served as the mayor of Portsmouth.
Born in Manchester, Marchand said the state is radically different than it was when he was born in 1974, and it needs to continue progressing. He said current state law is behind the mainstream beliefs of the people who live in New Hampshire, particularly on the topics of ending the death penalty and legalization of marijuana.
“I think I am the most progressive candidate,” Marchand said, later adding that he would legalize marijuana.
Marchand said he understands the magnitude of the opioid crisis, and legalizing marijuana would help with tackling that problem financially.
“I spent a lot of time talking to law enforcement, talking to people about recovery centers,” Marchand said.
Connolly said he has been in the race for seven months, and has heard about the needs of Granite Staters in every community. He said he would also focus on dealing with the opioid crisis, funding Planned Parenthood and making Medicaid expansion permanent.
Connolly said he spoke with emergency rescue crews in Manchester who told him they save people from overdosing on drugs, and they are back on the streets using again within 24 hours. Connolly said he will go after the pharmaceutical companies who are, “hooking our kids and families on drugs.”
All three candidates agreed that most people who become hooked on heroin start with prescription pills.
Connolly said that if he is elected, he will implement a 10-year economic plan for the state and fix the education funding formula.
“The decisions we make determines whether we are stagnant in the future or not,” Connolly said.
Connolly is the principal of New Castle Investment Advisors.
Moderators for the forum were Kristine Baber, chairman of the Dover Democratic Committee, and Rich Leonard, a Strafford County Democratic Committee Executive Committee member.