Pignatelli won't run again for Executive Council seat
Executive Councilor Debora Pignatelli of Nashua announced Monday that she will not seek reelection this year, creating an opening for Republicans who see a chance to regain control of the council that must approve state contracts and gubernatorial appointees.
Democrats currently have a 3-2 advantage on the five-member council.
The Nashua Democrat has been prominent in Concord for decades, serving five years in the House of Representatives and 10 years in the State Senate.
She served on the Executive Council from 2004 to 2010, and again from 2012 until the present. She lost the seat in 2010 to Republican David Wheeler of Milford, now the most likely Republican candidate for the council district that encompasses Greater Nashua and a huge chunk of Southern New Hampshire.
Pignatelli cited a "short-term health issue" in announcing her decision. "I can’t really campaign the way this large district requires," she said. "The time has arrived for me to take a break from my work in Concord."
During her career, Pignatelli has been a vocal advocate for extending commuter rail service from the Greater Boston area into Southern New Hampshire. When the council last year voted to approve the use of federal funds to study expansion of the rail corridor in the Granite State, she said she sought reelection in 2012 in large part to advocate for rail.
"Serving New Hampshire on the Executive Council has been a very rewarding experience, just as was my prior service in the House of Representatives and in the State Senate," she said in a statement.
Pignatelli has a reputation for decorum and dedication to what she called an "open and civil political process."
"That is more important than the passage of a specific piece of legislation or the casting of a specific vote," she said, "and I am most proud of that effort."
Gov. Maggie Hassan thanked Pignatelli for her nearly 30 years of service.
"Deb Pignatelli has been a strong and thoughtful voice in Concord for her constituents," the governor said. "It has been an honor to work with her at the council table. The people of New Hampshire will miss her leadership and advocacy."
New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said Pignatelli leaves behind "an impressive body of work."
Pignatelli cited "casting the deciding vote for the feasibility study now under way for commuter rail service between Nashua and Boston" at the top of her list of accomplishments.
Among the other highlights of her career she cited "working relentlessly on the unfair Merrimack toll situation; preventing the installation of tollbooths on the Everett Turnpike in Nashua; playing a major role in bringing the Department of Motor Vehicles center to Exit 6 in Nashua; objecting to unnecessary no-bid contracts; and advocating for programs to prevent domestic violence and family abuse.
"While we didn’t agree with Councilor Pignatelli on every issue, we thank her for her years of service to the State of New Hampshire," said Republican Party Chair Jennifer Horn.
In addition to Nashua, Executive Council District 5 includes Amherst, Antrim, Bennington, Brookline, Deering, Dunbarton, Fitzwilliam, Francestown, Greenfield, Greenville, Hillsborough, Hollis, Hudson, Jaffrey, Litchfield, Lyndeborough, Mason, Merrimack, Milford, Mont Vernon, New Boston, New Ipswich, Peterborough, Richmond, Rindge, Sharon, Swanzey, Temple, Troy, Weare, Wilton, and Windson, and the city of Nashua.