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Election Guide to Democrats for Governor: An uphill battle to show they could lead NH better

New Hampshire Union Leader

September 08. 2018 10:28PM
Steve Marchand and Molly Kelly (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
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The New Hampshire economy is strong and incumbent Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has high approval ratings in poll after poll. But two Democratic candidates for governor have been working throughout the summer to convince voters that they could do a better job in the State House’s corner office.

Former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand and former state Sen. Molly Kelly have similar positions on many of the key issues, but differ in the ways they would approach some of the challenges and opportunities facing the state.

The candidates

Kelly, 68, prides herself on her working-class roots, growing up as the second of 11 children. After attending Keene State College and Franklin Pierce Law Center, she began working as a financial adviser.

Kelly successfully ran for the state Senate for the first time in 2006 and was re-elected four times. Since leaving the Senate in 2016, she has served as acting director of the Antioch University of New England Center for Civic Engagement in Keene.

She has a daughter, three sons and seven grandchildren, and lives in Harrisville with her husband, Art Luptowski.

Marchand, 44, placed second to former executive councilor Colin Van Ostern in the 2016 Democratic gubernatorial primary, and almost immediately began running for 2016.

He frequently touts his background as the son of French Canadian immigrants to Manchester, raised on the city’s West Side. Marchand received a B.S in international relations, a B.A. in public affairs and a master’s degree in public administration from Syracuse University.

He served as mayor of Portsmouth from 2006 to 2008 and worked as the director of corporate relations for the University of New Hampshire. He and his wife, Sandi Hennequin, live in Portsmouth with their two daughters.

The issues

Jobs and the economy: Kelly acknowledges the strength in some sectors of the state’s economy, but says “too many Granite Staters are being left behind by an agenda that puts special interests ahead of children and families.”

If elected, Kelly says she would support the paid family and medical leave bill that died in the state Senate this year; would fight to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, indexed to inflation; and support legislation requiring businesses to give adequate notice to employees on schedule changes so that families can plan for child care.

Marchand says he would work to reverse some of the cuts in business taxes that have been approved by the Republican-led Legislature over the past two years, and use that money to fund many of his policy initiatives.

He says he would put an emphasis on attracting younger families to the state, through support for programs like paid family leave and state funded pre-school and kindergarten. He is proposing a family medical leave program funded by universal payroll deduction.

He would also promote investments in local infrastructure like waste water treatment plants and school buildings, with state-funded incentives for local governments to work together on projects.

Opioid epidemic: If elected, Kelly says, she would “ensure long-term stable funding so that we can grow and sustain the network of providers we need to help people get treatment and recovery resources.”

She also says she would expand the number of primary care providers, with state funded incentives and training to integrate addiction treatment into primary health care; advocate for expanding medication-assisted treatment; and expand access to treatment within the prison system.

Marchand pledges to increase funding for the Prescription Drug Monitoring database, and expand its use. He supports increased criminal penalties for drug dealers, but believes the state needs to focus more resources on medical treatment.

“There is bipartisan agreement that increasing our recovery infrastructure, and treating addiction as a medical — rather than a criminal — situation, is necessary to reversing this crisis,” he says. “Dedicating the resources needed to provide a full suite of services, including mental health and wellness expertise, is where the rubber meets the road.”

Immigration: Marchand has put forward a plan that he says would make New Hampshire a sanctuary state by restricting the extent to which state and local law enforcement cooperate in federal immigration enforcement.

He would also support allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license, and expand in-state tuition to eligible children of illegal immigrants.

“More than any segment of our population, immigrants, their children and their grandchildren are both the youngest and the most entrepreneurial members of our communities, and the future of our shared success depends on smart, inclusive immigration policy,” he says.

Kelly also believes that New Hampshire law enforcement should not do the federal government’s job of enforcing immigration laws, but has not used the term sanctuary state.

She has questioned the legality of patrols along the state’s border with Canada that may extend beyond the legal distance from the boundary. “Our country and our state are stronger because of immigrants, who enrich our communities and our lives,” she says.

Education: Marchand says he would oppose any program that directs state funds to private schools, would support full state funding for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, increase starting teacher pay, and boost state funding for education overall.

“I am committed to increasing the amount of state education funding per pupil to a figure that more accurately reflects the real cost of quality public education, as part of a package of reforms designed to focus dollars on educational outcomes, and increase equality in educational opportunity,” he says.

Kelly says she would veto “any plan that takes money from our public schools to create a voucher program for private or religious schools” and would work to make college education more affordable at UNH and other state institutions.

Second Amendment: Kelly says she supports universal background checks and efforts to “keep children and domestic abusers from getting guns; and to keep military-style weapons off our streets.”

She would work to reinstate the requirement of a permit to carry a concealed weapon; support a red-flag law; propose a 48-hour waiting period for all gun purchases; and support the right of municipalities and school districts to impose gun-free zones.

Marchand also supports universal background checks, a 48-hour waiting period for gun purchases and a ban on military-style semi-automatic weapons and bump stocks, which increase the fire power of semi-automatic weapons.

He also says he would seek to reinstitute the requirement of a permit from local police chiefs for concealed carry, and would work to change state law so that local communities and school districts could impose gun-free zones.

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