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Confirm Jasper: The right pick for Agriculture

November 20. 2017 10:14PM

At first glance, Gov. Chris Sununu’s selection of Rep. Shawn Jasper to be New Hampshire’s agriculture commissioner might seem odd.

Or worse, tapping the sitting House Speaker to run a state department might seem to be political cronyism.

But such criticism falls away once you look into Jasper’s experience.

Jasper is a student of New Hampshire history, and its agricultural sector in particular. He grew up on his family’s poultry farm in Hudson, and has maintained ties to agriculture throughout his life.

During his time in the Legislature, Jasper has learned every corner of state government, especially the budget and rule making processes central to a commissioner’s responsibilities.

Outgoing Agriculture Commissioner Lorraine Merrill and members of the state’s farming community are strongly supporting Jasper for the post.

Jasper bears the scars of repeated clashes with former Speaker Bill O’Brien and his House supporters. But those battles have no bearing on Jasper’s ability to run the state agriculture department.

Councilor Andru Volinsky is worried Jasper’s successor as Speaker would be less willing to continue Medicaid expansion. This is equally irrelevant to Jasper’s qualifications for the job. Should Jasper step down as Speaker, the House will choose new leadership.

Jasper is a good pick, and we encourage the Executive Council to confirm his nomination on Wednesday.

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