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February 13. 2013 11:00PM

Special election for Nashua state representative seat set for Tuesday

NASHUA - Two candidates will face off next week in a special election to fill a vacant state representative seat in Ward 4.

The open position was originally secured by Stacie Laughton, but she eventually withdrew her candidacy after her criminal history was revealed and questions surfaced about her eligibility to serve in Concord pending unpaid restitution.

On Tuesday, Democrat Pam Brown and Republican Elizabeth Van Twuyver will vie for the Hillsborough County District 31 seat. Both candidates say they are ready and eager to serve their constituents.

Van Twuyver, of 9 Pine Hill Ave., says her primary motivation for seeking public office is to improve the state's education system. This is her third attempt at garnering a state representative slot.

"I have very strong feelings about education, which I believe has gone downhill in this country over the last 10 to 20 years," said Van Twuyver, who has served on the Nashua Board of Education since November 2011.

Van Twuyver is a retired software developer for Digital Equipment Corporation, among other computer companies, and has a degree in computer science. She has lived in Nashua for 34 years.

The financial burden placed on new college graduates is overwhelming, according to Van Twuyver, who said the nation needs to be encouraging students with a bright future, not weighing them down with debt.

"My concern is the cost of higher education. I am not saying that everyone has to go to college, but for those who do want to go, it should not place a big financial burden on them. I think it can be reduced, and I want to go to Concord to help improve that," said Van Twuyver, adding that if elected, she would like to be assigned to the education committee.

Van Twuyver says she is against taxes, including the gasoline tax.

In response to bringing rail back to New Hampshire, the candidate said the pending rail study needs to be reviewed thoroughly once it is completed to determine if rail is financially feasible.

"I just want to wait and see," she said. "I can see the benefits, but we need to balance the budget first. Plus, I am afraid it is going to take forever to do."

Van Twuyver has been active with various local political campaigns and volunteers for Habitat for Humanity. She also serves as president of the Northeast Region POWERtalk International, a nonprofit educational organization devoted to coaching public speaking.

Brown, of 2 Clocktower Place, has lived in Nashua since 1997. This is her first attempt at public office, although she was an active volunteer for President Barack Obama's re-election campaign.

Brown previously worked for Fidelity Investments in Merrimack but currently is employed by a non-profit group in Manchester that serves individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders.

She is a Lyme disease survivor, and is an advocate for awareness and education of the illness. Brown is also a member of the Nashua Democratic City Committee and volunteers at local schools and nonprofit agencies.

Brown is opposed to a sales or income tax, and says New Hampshire must look at the big picture of business and economics in the state.

"I have seen first-hand how the state budget cuts to our schools and social services have had a devastating effect on our community, and I want to be part of the common sense leadership that puts people before politics," she said, noting her combined educational background and work experience.

Brown has degrees in psychology and business administration, and was previously involved in the Presidential Inauguration Day of Service in January. She was also selected to speak at first lady Michelle Obama's event last August in Manchester.

"I am committed to attracting more talent and opportunities to New Hampshire," she said, adding she hopes to preserve the beauty of the state.

All Ward 4 residents are able to vote in the special election. The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Ledge Street Elementary School, 139 Ledge St.

khoughton@newstote.com


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