CONCORD — Two Democrats on Tuesday announced candidacies for the Executive Council seat vacated by the death last week of Councilor Ray Burton.
Grafton County Commissioner Mike Cryans and former state Sen. Mark Hounsell told their local newspapers in Hanover and Conway, respectively, that they will run.
Cryans served with Burton, who was a Republican, on the Grafton County Board of Commissioners and ran unsuccessfully against Burton for Executive Council in 1996.
Hounsell served in the state Senate, as a Republican, in the 1980s.
Meanwhile, state Sen. Jeff Woodburn, D-Dalton, said Tuesday he won't run for the council seat.
On the Republican side, veteran activist and former Manchester City GOP chairman Jerry Thibodeau, now a longtime resident of Rumney, said he is seriously considering a candidacy but has yet to decide.
Woodburn said in a statement, "I think I can best serve the North Country by staying in the Senate and focusing on issues of importance to our region. The raw size of this district, now encompassing two-thirds of the state, would require me to spend too much time away from home — a place that I love, want to be and that needs government to work especially after the loss of our strongest advocate, Councilor Burton."
Hassan set the date of the election for March 11, town meeting day, with primary elections on Jan. 21. If only one candidate emerges from each party, then there would be no primaries and the general election would be held on Jan. 21.
Thibodeau, the finance chairman of the Grafton County Republican Committee, said, "I'm working on it. I'm getting a lot of phone calls from people asking me to run. But I'm sitting on it right now" and will decide shortly.
The filing period for the seat representing the huge district begins on Monday and continues next Tuesday and Wednesday, and concludes on Monday, Dec. 2.
Other Democrats considering running are Jackson Democratic Chairwoman Beth Funicella, who lost to Burton in 2010 and 2012.
Democrats being discussed among party activists as potential candidates include former candidate for governor and state Sen. Wayne King and former state Senate President Ralph Hough.
There has also been speculation among Democrats about Democratic National Committeeman and former state Sen. Peter Burling, Grafton County Commissioner Martha Richards, Carroll County Commissioner Dorothy Solomon, state Rep. Tom Buco of Conway and businessmen Wayne Presby and Mark Kelly.
Republicans also view as potential candidates former Belknap County Commissioner Chris Boothby and former state Sen. John Gallus.