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February 19. 2013 10:31PM

Democrat Brown wins special state representative election in Nashua

NASHUA - Democrat Pam Brown secured a vacant state representative seat for Ward 4 on Tuesday, beating Elizabeth Van Twuyver in a special election that brought few people to the polls.

Both candidates ran positive campaigns for the third Hillsborough County District 31 House of Representatives seat that was originally won by Stacie Laughton in November. Laughton later resigned amid revelations of her criminal history and questions about her eligibility to serve.

Brown received 203 votes compared to Van Twuyver's 167, according to City Clerk Paul Bergeron.

"This is a low turnout, but it is what we expected," ward moderator James Barnett said on Tuesday. "We are not expecting over 400."

By mid-morning, about 100 ballots had been cast, according to Barnett, who said special elections typically do not draw large crowds of voters. In addition, Barnett said Ward 4 is the smallest ward in the city, with about 3,700 registered voters.

A total of 371 voters hit the polls Tuesday, with one ballot not being calculated, Bergeron said.

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

"I am committed to attracting more talent and opportunities to New Hampshire," Brown said during her campaign, adding she hopes to preserve the beauty of the state. Brown previously worked for Fidelity Investments in Merrimack but currently is employed at a nonprofit group in Manchester that serves individuals with mental illness and substance abuse disorders.

She is a Lyme disease survivor, and is an advocate for awareness and education about the illness.

Brown is also a member of the Nashua Democratic City Committee and volunteers at local schools and nonprofit agencies.

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said Brown's victory is another example of New Hampshire voters rejecting the Republican Party and its tea party platform.

"Just as in November, when voters turned out to elect Democrats across the state, voters in Nashua have sent a clear message that they want a responsible, moderate Democrat in Concord," Buckley said in a statement, congratulating Brown on her win.

Supporters for both candidates stood outside of the polling station at Ledge Street Elementary School on Tuesday holding signs for their respective candidates.

"She is a great, fiscally conservative woman," Keith Carlsen said of Van Twuyver. "I'm sure she will do excellent in Concord."

Van Twuyver, of 9 Pine Hill Ave., said during the campaign that her primary motivation for seeking public office is to improve the state's education system. This was her third attempt to win a seat in the House.

On the opposite side of the roadway, Brown supporters gathered.

"I know that Pam will help us in Concord," said Sonyia Prince, who said she will be campaigning all day and evening for Brown. "I support Pam because she believes in the public school system, and so do I."

Brown will be joining Democrats David E. Cote and Mary Gorman as legislators from Ward 4.

Laughton made state and national history in November when she was elected as the first openly transgender legislator. However, after news surfaced about her previous life as a convicted felon under the name of Barry C. Laughton Jr. in Laconia, Laughton signed her letter of resignation on Nov. 29.

khoughton@newstote.com


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