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February 26. 2013 10:00PM

Nashua aldermen won't hold special election to fill Ward 8 House seat

NASHUA - The Board of Aldermen on Tuesday agreed to leave a vacant state representative position unfilled until the fall.

At the age of 79, state Rep. Roland LaPlante resigned last week from his seat in the House of Representatives, citing ongoing health issues.

LaPlante, a Democrat, is one of three Ward 8 state representatives. It is up to the Board of Aldermen to decide whether a special election is warranted. Because of the time needed for the Governor and Executive Council to approve a special election, coupled with the necessary filing period, a primary election could occur in May at the earliest, according to City Clerk Paul Bergeron. The earliest a special election could take place is June 25, he said.

"By the time a special election is held, the Legislature is not in session," Alderman Lori Wilshire told her colleagues on Tuesday.

While Ward 8 would benefit from having a third delegate, Wilshire said it doesn't really make sense to hold a special election at this time.

Since the current legislative session ends June 30, and does not resume again until January 2014, Bergeron suggested city officials coordinate the special election with the city election in November.

Alderman Dan Moriarty stressed that if a primary was not necessary, meaning one Republican and one Democrat filed to run for the vacant seat, a special election could be held in early May.

"If we schedule an election, we have to assume it will involve a primary," said Alderman Brian McCarthy, board president.

McCarthy emphasized there is an extra expense to hold a special election, and voter turnout is typically much lower for a special election involving a single state representative as opposed to a municipal election in November.

In addition, McCarthy said there is no guarantee that the new candidate will be seated by the end of the current legislative session even if a special election is held at the earliest opportunity.

Alderman Mary Ann Melizzi-Golja, Ward 8, said she has spoken with some of her constituents, and none of them have concerns about delaying the special election until the fall.

LaPlante has not commented on his resignation.

His wife, Sally, told the New Hampshire Union Leader last week that LaPlante has been sick for quite a while, but she did not elaborate on his health condition.

"He feels it is in the best interest of the community to resign so that someone else can fill his spot as soon as possible," Sally LaPlante said previously. "This was a hard decision, but he really had no choice. He was really looking forward to this session."

Roland LaPlante first served as a local state representative for District 35, Ward 8, from 2008-2010. He lost during his re-election attempt in 2010, but won a seat during the election last November.

LaPlante was assigned to the Transportation Committee, and, according to his wife, he was excited about some of the upcoming initiatives under way in Concord.

The other two Ward 8 representatives are Democrats Daniel Hansberry and Mary Nelson.

With LaPlante's seat left vacant during the current legislative session, 26 out of Nashua's 27 House of Representative positions will be filled.

khoughton@newstote.com

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