NASHUA - Two candidates will now face off in the vacant Ward 4 state representative seat, as Stacie Laughton announced Wednesday that she is withdrawing her candidacy.
"Due to circumstances out of my control, I have decided to withdraw (from) the race for state representative," Laughton posted Wednesday morning on her Facebook page.
According to City Clerk Paul Bergeron, the Attorney General's Office recently sent a letter to Laughton concerning her eligibility for the position. After speaking with Secretary of State William Gardner Wednesday morning, Bergeron was told that Laughton is expected to withdraw her candidacy -- again.
Laughton, a Democrat, made state and national history in November when she was elected as the first openly transgender legislator for District 31, Ward 4, in Nashua. However, after news surfaced about her previous life as a convicted felon under the name of Barry C. Laughton Jr. in Laconia, Laughton signed her letter of resignation on Nov. 29.
In December, the Board of Aldermen sought a special election to fill the vacant position, but to complicate matters further, Laughton filed to run for the seat she had just resigned before even taking office.
"It appears that controversy has been taken out of the election at this point," Bergeron said Wednesday.
A call to Laughton was not immediately returned Wednesday morning.
Now, with Laughton out of the race again, there is no longer a need for a primary election, according to Bergeron. The special general election is scheduled for Feb. 19 with Democrat Pam Brown, of 2 Clocktower Place, Apt. 209, squaring off against Republican Elizabeth VanTwuyver, of 9 Pine Hill Ave.
In 2001, the city held a similar special election in the same ward, in which about 400 people turned out to vote, said Bergeron. "I don't anticipate there will be more this time," he said, predicting a low turnout at the polls next month.
In 2008, Laughton pleaded guilty to charges of fraudulent use of a credit card, conspiracy to commit identity fraud and falsifying physical evidence. Under state statute, "A person sentenced for a felony, from the time of his sentence until his final discharge, may not . become a candidate for or hold public office."
Laughton's eligibility for the state representative seat was questioned because only a portion of her fine has been paid. Although the meaning of "final discharge" is now moot relative to Laughton serving in the House of Representatives, Bergeron is still concerned about whether she is eligible to continue holding public office as a selectman in Ward 4. Bergeron previously sent a letter to Attorney General Michael Delaney asking for clarification on the matter.
"I am writing to request an opinion on the meaning of the term (final discharge) as Stacie Laughton and Lisa Laughton -- who was also involved in the above identity theft/credit card fraud incident and convicted -- were elected as Ward 4 selectmen at the 2011 Municipal Election," Bergeron wrote.
Lisa Laughton is Stacie Laughton's ex-wife and campaign manager.