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October 24. 2012 10:12PM

Candidates for state Senate, Executive Council vie for votes

TAMWORTH — President Obama and Governor Romney weren’t the only ones debating on Monday night.

Candidates for public offices including state representative, state Senate, Executive Council, Carroll County attorney, Carroll County Commission and Carroll County Sheriff participated in a Candidates Forum held at the K.A. Brett School at 7 p.m. George Cleveland of the Gibson Center in North Conway moderated the forum, where candidates were given a few minutes each to pitch their case before a crowd of about 50 people. Candidates also responded to questions from the audience submitted through the moderator, who kept a tab on response times as several people expressed an interest in wrapping up to give them time to get home and catch the presidential debate.

Senior statesman Executive Councilor Ray Burton went first, as he was due at a New Hampshire Association of Counties meeting where he was scheduled to receive an award. Due to the meeting, incumbent Carroll County Commissioners David Sorenson and Dorothy Solomon did not attend the forum, but Solomon submitted a printed statement.

In his introduction, Burton said his district includes 108 towns with 263,000 people. He said the Governor and Executive Council’s duties include confirming judges to the judicial branch, and making recommendations for air, rail and highway transportation in the state. But his favorite aspect of the job was helping citizens with snags.

“I love to represent the people,” he said.

Burton’s agenda includes continued support of the hospitality, tourist, outdoor recreation and wood industries; working with the NH Congressional Delegation to enhance federal programs for local, county and state programs; following through on constituents’ requests; and supporting District One residents for public appointments.

In 2010 he defeated Democratic challenger Beth Funicella, who is running once again for the seat.

Funicella, of Jackson, said she salutes Burton’s long tenure.

“Why do I run against such a legend? First, to give the voters a choice not just an echo, and to bring balance and a new perspective to the Executive Council. I am appalled by the extremely partisan direction this present council has taken, refusing federal funding for commuter rail, economic development, grants for health insurance exchanges and for blocking appointments and reappointments of people who are very capable for nothing but political reasons,” said Funicella.

She opposed the current council’s support of privatizing prisons, describing the view as a “recipe for disaster.” She said the North County has just the same infrastructure problems as the rest of New Hampshire, such as sketchy communications and transportation needs. She said she was appalled at the amount of money pouring into campaigns, including $2 million for an unnamed Congressional candidate. If elected she would “not to be beholden to special interest.” She has accepted no donations to her campaign.

State Sen. Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, is facing Brookfield Democrat Jeff Ballard in Senate District 3.

Bradley, a former U.S. congressman, has served in the state Senate for the past four years. As a former small business owner, he said he knows what it means to sign the front of a paycheck. In his tenure in the Legislature, Bradley said he led efforts to repeal business-related taxes and reform the education funding formula. He also worked to protect services for the mental health network and developmentally disabled. His priority if re-elected would be to fight for more jobs, oppose any sales or income tax, and lower health care costs in New Hampshire.

Ballard, who works as an emergency department nurse, said he sees the impact decisions in the state Legislature has on everyday lives. “Since the last budget cuts have been in place, we’ve seen damage done to health care and the mental health care system,” said Ballard.

Ballard was awarded the Combat Medical Badge while serving as an infantry medic with the N.H. Army National Guard in Afghanistan in 2010.

He said budget cuts resulted in patients with mental problems ending up in an emergency room facing a three- to five-day wait for admission to a hospital. He said that under the current conditions there are not enough beds to meet the demand and that problems are created due to the shortsightedness of lawmakers in Concord. Ballard also supports public education, and has a son in the public school system.

“I’d be a safe choice,” he said.

A videotape of this meeting, and other public meetings, may be viewed at www.governmentoversite.com, taped and presented by Ed Comeau.

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Larissa Mulkern may be reached at LMulkern@newstote.com.

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