Candia selectmen battling for seat in the House
CANDIA - Candia Board of Selectmen Chairman Joe Duarte and Vice Chairman Dick Snow have shared similar views but are vying for a seat at the State House to represent Rockingham's District 2.
Voters in Candia, Nottingham and Deerfield will elect three representatives out of a field of five, which also includes Carol Ann Levesque of Deerfield, and Gail Mills and Kyle Tasker of Nottingham.
'On the board of selectmen, we have the same goal, to do the best for the town,' said Snow.
But in the New Hampshire House, not so much.
Duarte, a Republican incumbent elected in 2010, scored an A-minus grade from the Liberty Alliance. According to the progressive advocacy group Granite State Progress, Duarte voted with House Speaker William O'Brien and the House Republican Alliance 88 percent of the time, and he thinks the GOP supermajority has, so far, had a good run.
'There's a good feeling, a sense of accomplishment,' said Duarte, who pointed to the Voter ID law and several new gun use measures that 'fortify Second Amendment rights' as significant.
'One of our biggest accomplishments is stopping a state income tax,' said Duarte, referring to the House proposal to amend the state Constitution to ban incomes taxes that now goes to the voters for approval.
Snow, chairman of Candia's Democrat Town Committee, is also running because of the House Republican Alliance's success.
'I decided at the last minute, of the last hour of the last day to put my name in,' said Snow.
Snow represented the district for the 2006-08 session, and has given years of time and energy to Candia's Conservation Commission, the Lamprey River Advisory Committee and other preservation efforts.
He feels the upcoming term will be shaped by limited revenues and slower growth, and he figures it's a good time for New Hampshire to look at where it's been and where it's going.
'It's going to be a time of lower expectations and less mobility,' said Snow. 'We need to use that as an opportunity to say what do we want our state to be, we need to look at what we want to happen.'
As far as the big income tax question, Snow seems to prefer a discussion on taxes and revenue rather than a constitutional amendment.
'I'm not a great fan of taxes,' he said, adding that the state needs a system of fairer taxes.
'I don't like a sales tax because it hurts business, and as for an income tax, we already have it,' he said. 'There's already an income tax on dividends and investments and that hits older residents. I don't think that's fair and reasonable.'
Snow said he is particularly interested in looking at the way New Hampshire funds education, and easing some of the burden that now falls on local property owners.
'There is a mechanism, similar to a college endowment fund, where people like me can pay back the debt I owe for my education,' said Snow, who also feels the federal government should be picking up the bills for special education programs.
Education is one of the issues that clearly separates Snow and Duarte. While Snow supports local schools and public education, Duarte favors more options, freedom and responsibility for families with school-age kids.
'We've been working hard on improving education and I think our teachers are doing a pretty good job,' Duarte said.
Still, Duarte supported a bill that would provide tax credits for families who opt to send their kids to private schools. He also supported a House bill that died in the Senate that would have lowered the dropout age back to 16. In addition to reducing education funding by $140 million, he also helped override Gov. John Lynch's veto of a bill that allows parents to intervene in school curriculum.
Duarte also sponsored a bill that would eliminate in-state tuition rates for students who are not U.S. citizens. He points to the fact that it passed the Senate and was signed by Lynch as evidence that Republicans and Democrats can work together when an issue involves common sense and fairness.
Born in a small village in Portugal, Duarte emigrated to the U.S. with his family when he was 6. He grew up on Cape Cod and had a long and successful career in financial management, and he believes his professional experience can help him find ways to foster economic growth.
He moved to New Hampshire eight years ago and jumped feet first into local politics. A self described 'pro-life, pro-business, second amendment type of guy,' he said he takes advice and direction from the people who voted him into office.
'I try to do what my constituents want,' he said, acknowledging that sometimes the criticism can be hurtful.
'Some people call and some people do appreciate what we try to do,' he said. 'I want to be a benefit to the community.'
Snow, who describes himself as an older WASP, moved around the country as a kid, earned a degree in electronics and computer science and has lived in Candia for more than five decades.
He's watched New Hampshire change over the years, and has concerns about conserving resources and managing development throughout the state, but particularly in the lower righthand corner of the state.
'I view politics and elections as a crapshoot,' he said, adding that it's hard to make any predictions on anything political with people divided on so many issues.
He's sticking with his original method of campaigning, which includes declining political donations and refusing to litter the landscape with Vote Snow signs. And he's also sticking with his core message that the state needs to be protected and preserved.
'I want to keep New Hampshire as New Hampshire,' he said.