NASHUA - The state's first openly transgender legislator - who resigned days after being elected last November - is now being stripped of her local selectman seat.
Democrat Stacie Laughton said Wednesday night that her position as Ward 4 selectman - an elected role that she won during the 2011 municipal election - is being nullified after an opinion from the state Attorney General's Office determined that her previous criminal conviction has not been finally discharged under the law because of nearly $2,000 in unpaid restitution. "This has been a lifelong dream fulfilled, and now it is crashing down," Laughton said.
The nullification came the same day Laughton announced she was withdrawing her candidacy for the vacant Ward 4 state representative post - the same post she resigned from in November.
In 2008, Laughton, then known as Barry C. Laughton Jr., 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."
According to the attorney general's opinion, which Laughton stressed was not a ruling, she was never eligible to serve in her selectman seat. After a meeting with City Clerk Paul Bergeron on Wednesday, Laughton said the decision was made to nullify her selectman post.
The decision also applies to Laughton's ex-wife and campaign manager, Lisa Laughton, who also was elected as Ward 4 selectman during the 2011 municipal election. Lisa Laughton was convicted in the same identity theft and credit card fraud incident, according to Stacie Laughton.
For now, Stacie Laughton said she will take a break from politics and reevaluate her situation while still trying to be active in the community.
But once her restitution is paid and she is cleared to run for public office, Laughton said she will again seek an elected position in the city.
With Laughton out of the House race, 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, noting: "I don't anticipate there will be more this time."
- - - - - - - -Kimberly Houghton may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.