Nashua officials to seek special election for vacant state rep seat
NASHUA — Nashua officials will ask that the Governor and Council declare a special election to fill the vacancy left by state representative-elect Stacie Laughton.
The proposal was unanimously accepted, despite opposition from Laughton herself. The Democrat made state and national history in November when she was elected as the first openly transgender legislator for District 31, Ward 4. Laughton resigned Nov. 29 after a prior felony conviction surfaced.
"We are only in this mess right now because of dirty, nasty politics," Laughton told aldermen Tuesday, urging the board to vote against seeking a special election.
Laughton, who is a Ward 4 selectman and could potentially oversee the future special election, said it would not be wise to spend money on a special election that will likely have a low voter turnout.
The cost of the special election is estimated at $2,175.
"A special election has to be done," said former alderman Paula Johnson, explaining Ward 4 residents are entitled to have three state representatives in place. "Well, dirty politics, that is the name of the game," said Johnson. " ... If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen."
Some aldermen have questioned the need for a special election, posting on various social networking sites that the runner-up in the election should be given the seat.
In that case, the position would be given to Republican Elizabeth VanTwuyver, who currently serves on the Nashua Board of Education.
Alderman Daniel Moriarty asked if it were possible to take the next highest vote-getter.
Stephen Bennett, city legal counsel, said state law establishes the process for filling vacancies, maintaining the position requires an election.
The Governor and Council have a meeting planned for Dec. 19, at which time the special election request will likely be discussed.
According to City Clerk Paul Bergeron, a primary election could be held either Feb. 5 or Feb. 12, and a general election could be scheduled for either April 9 or April 16.
If this is accepted, the filing period for the special election would take place on Dec. 24 at the Secretary of State's Office, and from Dec. 26 to Dec. 28 at the City Clerk's Office.
During last month's election, Laughton received 1,596 votes. Fellow Democrats David E. Cote won 1,880 votes and Mary Gorman 1,872 votes.
Republican VanTwuyver received 759 votes and Republican Richard Heitmiller 735 votes.
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Kimberly Houghton may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.