State Senate District 24: Stiles vs. HollingworthBy GARRY RAYNO
State House Bureau
November 04. 2012 8:15PM
CONCORD - A former Senate president faces a first-term senator in the newly redrawn District 24 Senate race.
Incumbent Sen. Nancy Stiles, R-Hampton, was swept into office in the 2010 Republican political tsunami that put the GOP in solid control of the House and Senate. Although Stiles occasionally broke with fellow Republicans in the Senate, particularly over women's health care issues, she generally agreed with her party's focus on spending reductions, lowering or eliminating taxes, and reducing regulations on businesses.
"It's all about jobs and the economy and having everybody back working," Stiles said.
She said her second priority is reviewing business taxes and regulations to determine if changes are needed to create a better business environment so companies can expand and increase jobs.
But Beverly Hollingworth, D-Hampton, said over the last two years Republicans ran roughshod over essential state programs and long-held traditions in pursuing what she called an extreme agenda generated by outside interest groups.
"When I was looking at whether to run or not, I felt like I almost had to," Hollingworth said. "There were all these bills I worked on like the industrial research center at UNH. They cut that."
She noted Stiles supported the stand-your-ground bill the legislature approved during the 2011 session. "That is extreme legislation and clearly not something that New Hampshire needs," Hollingworth said. "The law we had on the books provided enough protection."
She also noted lawmakers, including Stiles, voted to eliminate the state's 36-percent interest cap on auto title and payday loans. Hollingworth was also critical of some of the cuts lawmakers made in the current biennial budget, particularly a 10-cent reduction in the tobacco tax.
"That's money that goes directly into the education trust fund," she said.
Stiles said budget decisions were difficult but added that balancing the budget without an income tax has to be the top priority. She noted her work to change the education-funding formula so it focuses on student needs and reading proficiency. Some changes may be needed in the new formula to adjust for school districts that grow beyond 5 percent, she said.
The state community colleges and university systems did a good job of adjusting to the reduction in state aid, Stiles noted, but lawmakers may need to provide additional help to drive down tuition.
Stiles was one of the chief architects of legislation reinstating the school building aid program after a four-year moratorium. That was a bipartisan bill, she said, which will save taxpayers money because the state will provide 80 percent of its share of money up front.
"We do not have a lot of money at the very beginning, but within five years there will be plenty of money to address the needs," Stiles said.
Stiles, 70, is serving her first term in the Senate after three terms in the House.
She is the retired director of nutritional services for the Hampton School District.
Stiles was born in Newburyport, Mass., grew up in Salisbury, Mass., and moved to Hampton in 1965.
Hollingworth, 77, served 10 years in the state Senate, including a year as Senate president, when she presided over the impeachment trial of then-Supreme Court Chief Justice David Brock. She served two terms on the Executive Council and five terms in the House. She is retired.
Hollingworth was born in Haverhill, Mass., but her family soon moved to New Hampshire and then to Hampton when she was 7.