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January 26. 2014 8:33AM

At 20, Joseph Sweeney is helping get things back on track in Concord

Joe Sweeney 

Joe Sweeney, 20

Home: Salem

Birthplace: Methuen, Mass.

Family: Parents, Thomas and Barbara; brother, Tom, and sister, Deb 

High school: Salem High School, Salem

College/post grad degrees: Currently enrolled at the University of New Hampshire

Current job: State representative

Key past positions held: I have held the positions of New Hampshire Association of Student Councils president, Salem High School student body president, NH-20001 Junior ROTC Corps Commander, and Salem High Class of 2012 president.

Volunteer activities: I volunteer mainly through my fraternity, Phi Mu Delta, at the University of New Hampshire. I serve as the UNH Student Senate Campus Structure chair, and I also volunteer my time and serve as the chair of the Salem GOP Relay for Life Team. Most admired person (outside your family): Mahatma Gandhi 

Key current professional challenge: Putting New Hampshire in the best position to spur growth and expand the economic objectives of the state.

Last major achievement: Elected to the New Hampshire House, November of 2012. 

Two peers who know you well: Michele Nunnelley and Thomas Stephen

Biggest problem facing New Hampshire: The biggest problem facing New Hampshire is the lack of economic development in the western and northern parts of the state. By attracting new development, we can boost economic growth while reversing the outsourcing of jobs to neighboring states, such as Massachusetts.

Favorite place in New Hampshire: White Mountains

What book are you reading now? "1434" by Gavin Menzies

How do you relax? Typically I relax by watching programs on Netflix, either movies or TV shows. Beyond watching programs, I tend to spend free time connecting with friends, either in person or through social media.

What websites do you visit most often? Salem Patch, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube

Favorite TV show, radio station or musical artist: My favorite TV show is probably "House of Cards" on Netflix, but I also appreciate detective shows, mainly "Psych" or "Castle."

SALEM — When most college sophomores get out of class, they might head out with friends or go to an after-school job.

For Salem's Joseph Sweeney, you are just as likely to find him heading to the State House in Concord to work on the state budget.

The 20-year-old Salem High School graduate and UNH-Durham sophomore was elected to the House of Representatives representing Rockingham District 8 in 2012.

"My main reason for running is that I felt there was a lot of confusion and not a lot of representation in the State House," said Sweeney. "My grandfather is also a huge influence on me, and I wanted to show him I could run for office and help get things back on track."

As a state representative, Sweeney said he can help provide a new voice in the state.

"I never think there should be leadership in a vacuum," Sweeney said. "It is important to have a lot of different voices and perspective."

During his time in Concord, Sweeney said he is most proud of helping pass a new state budget that won't raise taxes and fees and will help put New Hampshire on a good path for a strong economy.

At UNH, Sweeney is majoring in political science and said his goal is to attend graduate school for public policy.

On campus, Sweeney serves as the campus structure chair of the student senate, is a founding father of the Phi Mu Delta fraternity, and is the publicist of the student cable access network.

"I want to work in the public sector, for a town or county government in some capacity," said Sweeney.

During his limited down time, Sweeney said he enjoys playing pickup sports such as basketball and football and that he is an avid reader.

A lifelong Salem resident, Sweeney said he is eager to see Salem grow and develop over the coming decades, and to have more people involved in the town's growth.

"Joe is eager to learn and holds himself up well, fighting for taxpayers and millennials alike against out-of-control spending and debt," said Michele Nunnelley, who nominated Sweeney for the 40 Under Forty honor.

Nominations for Class of 2015

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