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Dave Solomon has been a reporter or editor for New England news organizations since 1977. He has served as executive editor of both the Portsmouth Herald and the Nashua Telegraph. He joined the reporting staff of the New Hampshire Union Leader in 2012.

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November 22. 2013 11:12AM

John DiStaso's Granite Status: Republicans Brown, St. Hilaire, Democrat Kelley consider Executive Council candidacies

FRIDAY, NOV. 22: TWO MORE FOR COUNCIL. With the filing period for the special election for the District 1 Executive Council seat opening on Monday, two more Republicans and have confirmed they are seriously considering candidacies, while Democrats say Kathleen Kelley of Randolph is also looking at a run.

Former Grafton County Attorney Rick St. Hiliaire and Grantham attorney Sheridan Brown, a former long time aide to former Sen. John E. Sununu have joined former Belknap County Commissioner Christopher Boothby on the Republican side in eyeing runs.

St. Hiliaire is the younger brother of former District 2 Executive Councilor Dan St. Hilaire, who did not seek reelection in 2012, and a former assistant county attorney in Belknap County.

Brown said that after serving as an constituent service aide to Sununu for 10 years, in both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate, he has been in private practice in Grantham and has done much work on conservation issues, including the Loon Protection Society.

“I think John Sununu had a great constituent service staff, and obviously no one can replace Ray or do the job that Ray did,” Brown said, “but I’d like to think that if I run and am successful, I would work hard to make sure constituents in the first council district have a strong voice in Concord.”

St. Hilaire, who was elected four times as Grafton County attorney, said it is “vital” that a strong voice from the northern part of the state continue on the council “and that Ray’s legacy of public service continues.

“In our part of the state we have values of individual responsibility, common sense and lending a helping hand,” St. Hilaire said.  “Those are values Ray cherished and that I cherish. We culture of pitching in and helping neighbors.”

Both men said they will see how the field shapes up next week.

On the Democratic side, sources say the latest potential candidate to emerge on Friday was Katheen Kelley of Randolph who is active with the state Council on Fund-Raising, which helps nonprofits raise money.

She is a former finance director for the Concord Community School and a former member of the Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce.


(Earlier reports on St. Hilaire and other Executive Council developments follow.)
 
FRIDAY, NOV. 22: ST. HILIARE EYES COUNCIL. GOP sources tell the Status that Lebanon attorney and former Grafton County Attorney Rick St. Hilaire is the latest Republican strongly considering running for the District 1 Executive Council seat.

St. Hilaire is the younger brother of former District 2 Executive Councilor Dan St. Hilaire, who did not seek reelection in 2012.

Rick St. Hiliare is also a former assistant county attorney in Belknap County and has lived in Tilton, Plymouth and now Lebanon.

Redistricting last year added to Executive Council District 1 some large communities that were formerly in District 2 when Dan St. Hiliare was on the ballot for Merrimack County Attorney and Executive Council, something which could help Rick St. Hiliare should he run.

The filing period for the seat left vacant by the death of Ray Burton begins on Monday.

For more on how District 1 is shaping up, see items below.


THURSDAY, NOV. 21: GALLUS, THIBODEAU OUT: Scratch two key Republicans from the race for the District 1 Executive Council seat left vacant by the death of 18-term councilor Ray Burton.

Former state Sen. John Gallus, R-Berlin, said today he had been quietly considering a run, but has decided against it.

He cited the tight time frame for the Jan. 21 special primary election and the March 11 general election, saying that through the holiday season he did not believe he could give a "120 percent commitment" to a candidacy, as he has in the past to his Senate runs.

Jerry Thibodeau, a former Manchester Republican Committee chairman who has resided in Rumney for several years and is finance chair of the Grafton County GOP Committee, posted a simple statement on his web site today that he will not run for "personal reasons."


(For more on how the special election races are shaping up in each party, see our items below.)


WEDNESDAY, NOV. 20. BOOTHBY: "SERIOUS CONSIDERATION." The list of candidates looking at running for the District 1 Executive Council seat left vacant by the death of 18-term councilor Ray Burton continued to grow Tuesday night.

Christopher Boothby, a Laconia Republican who served for 12 years as a Belknap County Commissioner, told us he is giving "serious consideration" to the seat.

He was the second Republican to do so. Former Manchester Republican Committee Chairman Jerry Thibodeau, who has lived for several years now in Rumney, said he is also considering a run.

"I have been honored by a number of phone calls by people who are encouraging me to consider a run for the council in District 1," he said. "I have not made a final decision. Obviously I'm going to need to make a final decision relatively quickly" because the filing period opens next week.

"But I can confirm that I'm giving it serious consideration," he said.

Boothby also served two years as president of the New Hampshire Association of Counties, which, he said, "gave me the opportunity to work on a statewide basis."

Gov. Maggie Hassan has set the date of the primaries in the special election for Jan. 21 and the general election for March 11, town meeting day. If there is only one candidate running in each party, the general election will be held on Jan. 21.


(See the latest on the District 1 Executive Council special election below the following item.)
TUESDAY, NOV. 19: GARCIA NEARING DECISION. Republican state Rep. Marilinda Garcia of Salem is telling follow conservatives she intends to run for the 2nd District U.S. House seat and to expect an announcement soon.

We first reported last month that the 30-year-old four-term New Hampshire House member was making it known that she was looking at the possibility of running and that she was leaning heavily toward becoming a candidate.

Last month, she was telling fellow Republicans she was eyeing an announcement in early November. Now that it's mid-November, she is apparently readying a candidacy.

If she runs, she will be in a primary with former state Sen. Gary Lambert of Nashua for the right to take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster next November.

Many southern New Hampshire conservatives have been urging Garcia to run, although she has made no definitive comments about it in public.

Coincidentally, this latest news comes as Republicans in Garcia's neighboring town of Windham are expressing some frustration with Lambert's cancellation of a scheduled appearance at their meeting tonight.

Windham Republican Committee vice chairman David Bates emailed fellow committee members today that Lambert "is in DC on a fundraising trip so he will not be in Windham as planned."

"It's not a big, nefarious thing," Bates told us today, "but it is a bit frustrating." He said that as a result, tonight's committee meeting was cancelled.


(An earlier Granite Status report follows.)
UPDATED: TUESDAY, NOV. 19: HOUNSELL, CRYANS IN; "WOODY" OUT; THIBODEAU "MAYBE." Two Democrats stepped up on Tuesday to announce candidacies for the Executive Council seat vacated by the death last week of the legendary 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 and prefers to remain in the Senate (voters willing, of course.)


On the Republican side, veteran activist and former Manchester City GOP chair Jerry Thibodeau, now a long-time resident of Rumney, said he is seriously considering a candidacy but has yet to decide.
State Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, told the Status he is "flattered" by the speculation but is sticking to his decision earlier this year not to run for higher office, including the council. He said he still intends to seek reelection to the state Senate.



Woodburn said in a statement Tuesday, "Despite the encouragement of many people, I've decided not to run for Executive Council.

"I think I can best serve the North Country by staying in the Senate and focusing on issues of importance to our region," Woodburn said. "The raw size of this district, now encompassing two-thirds of the state, would require me to spent 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, who is 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 Chair Beth Funicella, who lost to Burton in 2010 and 2012.

Democrats being talked up as potential candidates among party activists 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.


(See earlier Granite Status reports elsewhere on this page or by clicking on "Granite Status" above.)


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