Free State Project members seeking Bedford votes
And some who come for all of those reasons want a greater hand in how government is run, as the town of Bedford is learning firsthand.
"I want to live in a state that strongly believes in protecting personal liberties, and New Hampshire's 'Live Free or Die' mentality does that," Day said. "I grew up in a town in Indiana that's the same size as Bedford, and it has a similar feel. Before moving to New Hampshire in 2009, we were living in Boston, with high taxes and high crime. That's not what we wanted for our children. The Massachusetts legislators make all this money, but in New Hampshire, they get a stipend of $100; there is much less corruption in government here. Bedford is politically conservative and has a small-town feel, with less intrusive government."
"I chose New Hampshire partly because of the Free State Project, but also because of all the reasons everyone else chose it; remember, only 42 percent of New Hampshirites were born in the state," Philips said. "The people here are warm, welcoming, pragmatic and reasonable. There is great natural beauty, low crime, low poverty, low personal taxes."
Some longtime residents see the Free State movement as a threat and an attempt to make drastic changes to local and state government.
"Most of us have come to New Hampshire because of a way of life and not because we're part of a group formed outside of the state," said Bill Greiner, a former town councilor and member of several community organizations. "Aaron Day and Matt Philips have only recently come to Bedford for the sole purpose of colonizing New Hampshire as part of the Free State Project and infiltrating municipal and state elective office to make radical and anarchistic changes that would be extremely detrimental to the quality of life in Bedford."
"Greiner has been factually inaccurate in his statements about me and the Free State project. I am not against the Constitution. New Hampshire is the 'Live Free or Die' state, and the truth is in his time on the town council, property taxes here have nearly doubled."
At the Bedford School District's deliberative session on Feb. 4, Day wanted to change the terms of the district's pension fund, but was told all towns are required by the state to participate in the retirement system. He also tried to reduce the budget by $880,000, but his motion was based on the default budget, not the proposed budget. The default budget is set by state statute and cannot be amended. The motion was changed to reflect the proposed budget, but failed by hand vote.
"They would like to get us out of the public school business, and I've spent too many years, tears and effort on the school board to see that happen. Anyone who wants to dismantle our school system, I'm opposed to," Brock said. "They should live in New Hampshire and earn their stripes before they run for office in New Hampshire."
The Free State Project's philosophy is "less government is better government, and government should only exist to protect individual rights." Philips said anyone seeking more information should Google "Libertarian reading list" or read "The Law," by Claude Frederic Bastiat.
"The town council and school board are accountable to the electorate, and if they overstep their bounds as defined by the charter, then it is the responsibility of the voters to make their will known," Philips said. "Of course, that depends on there being a choice of candidates, which is why I'm running."
"I want to be able to send my children to public school, but I have concerns about Common Core. I do have kids, and I'm concerned about the curriculum and the schools themselves, and I'm going to do a complete analysis for my own children. I think that's a unique perspective," Day said. "On the school board, there's only people who have kids in the schools, and that's poor structure. I'm a taxpayer, but I also want to represent older people."
"If the voters judge me by my character and statements and elect me, then I will work with my fellow councilors within the framework established by the town charter and the New Hampshire and United States Constitutions," Philips said.
"The residents of Bedford, regardless of political ideology, need to see these folks for what they are; part of an attempt to infiltrate New Hampshire and our community in order to radically transform what Bedford stands for. Make no mistake; this is a well-calculated attempt on their part to come in literally overnight and influence our lives," Greiner said.