Voters in Executive Council District 1, from the Lakes Region to the Canadian border, will head to the polls on Tuesday in a three-way Republican primary to decide who will square off against the only declared Democratic candidate in the March general election.
The GOP primary features a diverse field, with a former state senator, a former county commissioner and a retired congressional aide hoping to win the Executive Council seat left vacant by the death of longtime Republican Councilor Ray Burton.
Mark Aldrich, 64, of Lebanon was the state director for both U.S. Sens. Gordon Humphrey and Bob Smith for a combined 20 years. Although he has not previously held elected state office, Aldrich told the Union Leader his work as a congressional aide involved extensive constituent service, economic development projects in the North Country, and serving as a liaison between North Country residents and their elected officials.
After leaving Smith's staff, Aldrich worked as a government relations consultant for two years before taking the job as Claremont economic development director in 2002. He worked as a business consultant before retiring in 2010.
"The work of an executive councilor is not dissimilar to the work I did as a congressional aide," he said. "I did a lot of economic development work in the North Country."
Aldrich told the Littleton Courier on Jan. 15 that he opposes the Northern Pass as proposed and believes the lines should be buried wherever they would cause aesthetic problems. "I have an unbending allegiance to keeping our northern New Hampshire natural resources beautiful," he said.
Aldrich has a bachelor's degree from University of New Hampshire and a master's degree in business administration from Southern New Hampshire University.
Former Belknap County commissioner Christopher Boothby, 47, of Meredith, served as an intern for Burton when he was in graduate school at UNH.
"I carry the lessons learned from the internship with me today, and they still influence my approach to work, politics, and non-profit activities," Boothby writes on his website.His career has been primarily with health care organizations. He was executive director at the New Hampshire Brain Injury Association, director of outpatient services at HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital in Concord and director of marketing at the Hunt Community in Nashua.
He also served as director of community affairs, philanthropy and outpatient services at LRG Healthcare.
He and his wife founded Boothby Therapy Services, a company that provides speech and occupational therapy, as well as vision and psychological services, to schools throughout New Hampshire and Vermont.
In 1998, he was elected a Belknap County commissioner, a position he held until 2010.He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Maine and a master's degree in public administration from the University of New Hampshire.
Boothby also opposes the Northern Pass.
"As we create our economic future, we must safeguard what makes New Hampshire beautiful and unique," he said. "Rather than compromise our natural resources, we must respect and protect them, knowing that they are an integral part of our economic success."
Former state Sen. Joe Kenney, 53, of Wakefield, has the most experience of the three candidates in elective office, and promotes the fact in his campaign slogan: "Because State House Experience Matters."
Kenney served in the New Hampshire House for four terms from 1994 to 2002, and in the state Senate for three terms from 2002 to 2008. He was the Republican standard-bearer in the 2008 campaign against then-Gov. John Lynch, garnering less than 30 percent of the statewide vote.
A colonel with 30 years in the Marine Corps, Kenney is an Afghanistan and Iraq war veteran. He has an "A" rating with the National Rifle Association and on Jan. 16 was endorsed by the New Hampshire Right To Life Political Action Committee.
He is opposed to the Northern Pass, and said if elected he would strive to provide constituent service "in the tradition of Ray Burton."
The winner of the primary will face Democratic candidate and longtime Grafton County Commissioner Michael Cryans of Hanover in the March election to represent the sprawling Executive Council district that embraces the northern portion of the state, with 108 towns and four cities.