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August 24. 2014 8:07PM

Londonderry Democrats host annual summer social event


Laura Aronson of the Londonderry Democratic Committee gave words of encouragement to the small crowd gathered at Mack's Apples Saturday afternoon. (APRIL GUILMET/Union Leader Correspondent)

LONDONDERRY — Though smaller in numbers, local Democrats vowed to maintain an active presence in the weeks leading up to November elections.

Party members gathered around the pond at Mack's Apples on Saturday afternoon for the annual Summer Social.

A tradition for the Londonderry Democrats, the day focused on fundraising and candidate appearances, with Raymond blues singer Chaz Proulx providing the day's soundtrack.

Farm owner Andy Mack Sr., was travelling and didn't attend Saturday's function, but event organizer Mary Tetreau said he encouraged candidates to put up their signs in front of the Mammoth Road orchards.

“He told me he'd really like to see some more signs across the street from Matthew Thornton School,” Tetreau said, joking about the number of opponents' signs dotting the local landscape.

Also absent was U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. Shaheen's deputy political director Mike Ollen, who spoke on her behalf Saturday, said the senator was spending time with the family of slain Rochester journalist James Foley.

Shaheen was in Londonderry the previous weekend to march in the Old Home Day parade, where she was heckled by a chicken-suit-wearing Republican activist.

The “chicken man,” identified as NHGOP staffer Michael Zona, later found himself in handcuffs, facing charges of disorderly conduct.

In a written statement read by Ollen, Shaheen encouraged voters to remain vigilant while refraining from personal attacks.

“There is simply too much at stake to sit on the sidelines right now,” the senator said in her statement.

Gov. Maggie Hassan asked local voters to remember “where we were two years ago.”

“At that time, the two party Legislature wasn't helping working class families,” Hassan said. “But with all of your help, we've been restoring the New Hampshire tradition of problem-solving.”

Hassan credited both parties for working together over the past 20 months “to create a successful bipartisan budget without sales tax,” while strengthening education opportunities for the next generation.

If reelected in November, Hassan vowed to continue working to reduce the state's unemployment rate and increase economic development opportunities.

Three-term 1st District Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter said she too would be working hard to get votes from both sides of the spectrum.

“A lot of people erroneously think that Democrats don't understand business,” Shea Porter said. “But wealth creation plays an important role in what we're trying to do. And our responsibility is to bring the next generation forward.”

District 14 state Senate candidate Kate Messner said she decided to run for office because she wanted to “keep the state moving forward.”

Though her 2012 bid for the Senate seat wasn't successful, Messner said she prefers to focus on the positive.

“I got 41 percent of the local vote last time around,” she said. “So if I can get just 10 percent more in November, I could win this.”

Londonderry state representative candidates Gary Vermillion and Ted Combes also addressed the small crowd.

Vermillion, a carpenter, spoke of how the misclassification of employees can harm the working class.

“Some companies like to classify workers as independent contractors,” Vermillion said. “As the result, the individuals aren’t getting benefits, they’re not paying into workman’s compensation...our insurance rates would be lower if we were all on the same playing field.”

Combes, a former Eagle Scout who has volunteered on a number of local boards and committees, said he’d focus on economic issues if elected this fall.

“I think we can do a much better job in putting more people back to work,” he added. Incumbent state Rep. Lisa Whittemore made history last term when she was elected Londonderry’s first Democratic representative in recent history, if ever.

Whittemore said the crossover vote was strong in 2012, where she earned 5,000 votes in a town with just 4,000 registered Democrats.

She stressed the need for bipartisanship in the days ahead. “What are the things (both parties) can agree on? We need to focus on those things,” she said.

Salem resident Jane Lang, vice president for the state Alliance for Retired Americans chapter, reminded local seniors of their power at the polls.

“Retired seniors need to do their homework on the candidates,” Lang said. “And first and foremost, they need to get out and vote.”

aguilmet@newstote.com


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