RYE — Candidates for seats in the N.H. House of Representatives, the N.H. Senate and the Executive Council talked about education, health care and energy costs, and the importance of a balanced budget at a meet the candidates night at Rye Elementary School.
Absent from the event were two Republican candidates for the House, Dan Hughes and Ray Tweedie, who had “prior obligations,” according to moderator Robert Eaton. The candidates are running against incumbents David Borden and Tom Sherman.
“I was very surprised, they tried to change the evening and apparently they weren’t able to,” Borden said. “It’s very unfortunate. The voters need to be able to know both sides.”
Sherman, as he did through most of the questions directed at the two Democratic incumbents, agreed with Borden.
“In a way it doesn’t really matter. We are accountable to the public. If we don’t show up, how can we be accountable?” Sherman said. “If they choose not to show up, I can’t control that.”
Both candidates for the District 24 Senate seat — Sen. Nancy Stiles and challenger Chris Muns —and the Executive Council position — incumbent Chris Sununu and challenger Robin McLain — were in attendance and addressed citizens’ concerns regarding a balanced budget, health care, education and economic development.
“We need transparency in spending,” Stiles said in her opening statement. “We need ways to improve the business environment by examining taxes and regulations imposed on businesses.”
Muns commented on where Stiles allegiance is: with area constituents or lobbyists in Concord.
“My opponent went to Concord with good intentions, but that’s where her focus is,” Muns said. “I spent my time talking with people in the district about their concerns.”
Both candidates agreed that the largest issue facing its citizens is continuing economic development and job creation.
“Although we’ve made significant progress since 2008, there’s still a ways to go. There are still thousands of people in the state struggling and jobs are the No. 1 priority,” Muns said. “We need to focus on retaining and training young people to fill the jobs that are out there. We also need to continue to support the tourism industry.”
Stiles said that the environment for businesses needs to improve to increase jobs, while also saying that balancing a budget is an important issue for the state.
“We need to see how can we address education to fit with the jobs that are out there,” Stiles said. “We also need to make sure we balance the budget and don’t head down toward a road that includes income or sales tax.”
Mike Schwartz, a Rye resident, asked the candidates about bipartisanship and when they should stray from voting with party lines, which both candidates said they do.
“Many times I took the position opposite of my party and turned the party around on the issue,” Stiles, a Republican, said.
Muns said that while he believes in the core values of the Democratic Party, he votes on behalf of constituents.
“I pride myself as someone who doesn’t just follow party lines,” he said.
The candidates for the Executive Council, which oversees expenditures of all state departments and agencies, spent a considerable amount of time explaining what the job is to the roughly 30 attendees.
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