State Senate District 6: Sam Cataldo vs. Rich LeonardBy GARRY RAYNO
State House Bureau
November 04. 2012 10:33PM
CONCORD - Rep. Sam Cataldo, R-Farmington, faces Richard "Rich" Leonard, a pharmacist from New Durham, for the redrawn District 6 seat that now stretches from Rochester to Alton.
Cataldo, 75, has had a variety of careers, from restaurant owner to nuclear decontamination project manager, and he said he hopes the Senate has the same sensibilities as the House has had the past two years.
"I want to continue the same agenda as the last two years," said Cataldo, who defeated former Rochester Mayor and District 6 Sen. Dick Green in the Republican primary.
But Leonard said what went on in Concord the last two years is one of the reasons he decided to enter the Senate race.
Leonard, who owns a small farm, said he joined the Strafford County Extension Services advisory group, and in a short time the state had cut the money for the services.
"That was my first eye-opening experience of what was going on in Concord," Leonard said.
The $48 million annual cut to the university system was another eye-opener for him.
Leonard said he has been emphasizing properly funding education in his campaign. "I see it as a domino effect. If you look at education as an expense instead of an investment, it does not create jobs," he said. "Education is the key to job revitalization and keeping the workforce growing and keeping kids staying in New Hampshire and not moving away because ... there are no jobs in their home state."
But Cataldo said lawmakers faced an $800 million deficit and increased fees and taxes.
"We corrected over 50 percent of that," he said. "We should carry on with what we did. We all have to live within our means, even the state."
He also defended the voting reform legislation passed this year.
"I know we're getting a lot of flak from college kids and so forth, but look at Massachusetts or the 23 or 26 other states that have this law," Cataldo said. "If you pay out-of-state tuition, you cannot vote in that state. It's no great inconvenience. They have a right to vote in their own state."
Cataldo has been a vocal opponent of the federal health care law and supported legislative efforts to stop the state from forming its own health care exchange and to send the federal planning money back to Washington.
But Leonard believes the act will benefit people. On the campaign trail, he talks about his wife's battle with the cancer that eventually took her life. When she became sick, she was out of work for a year, and the couple lost their health insurance. But Leonard was able to turn to his employer for health insurance, which did cover pre-existing conditions.
"A lot of people out there are not that lucky," he said. "Pre-existing conditions hit home to me. In a blink of an eye you can lose everything."
Leonard, 61, was born in Bedford, Mass., and grew up in Hanover, Mass.
He graduated from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Services in Boston in 1975 and soon moved to New Hampshire to take a job at Wentworth Douglass Hospital in Dover. Leonard has four grown sons.
Cataldo first moved to New Hampshire in 1971 when he owned a restaurant in Seabrook and has lived in Farmington since 2001. He served in the House from 2002 until 2006 and was elected again in 2010. He served six years in the U.S. Air Force and has a commercial pilot's license. He graduated from Northeastern University and was born in Lawrence, Mass.
He and his wife live in Farmington. They have five children and many grandchildren.