Stratham holds candidates’ night
By Hadley Barndollarhbarndollar@seacoastonline.com
STRATHAM – Local House of Representatives and Senate candidates got together in a “get to know you” setting on Wednesday night, answering questions from Stratham residents at the Wiggin Memorial Library.
From the House race, District 19 (Stratham) candidates Patrick Abrami, Debra Altschiller and Joanne Ward were all in attendance. District 36 (Stratham, Exeter, Newfields, Newmarket) candidate Patricia Lovejoy was present. District 24 Senate candidate Tom Sherman also attended. District 24 encompasses Greenland, Hampton, Hampton Falls, Kensington, New Castle, North Hampton, Newton, Rye, Seabrook, Stratham and South Hampton.
House District 36 candidate Griffin Poutre and Senate District 24 candidate Dan Innis were not in attendance.
Candidates gave brief introductions before touching upon minimum wage, climate change, past House bills and gun control.
David London, resident of Stratham, asked candidates where they stood on increasing minimum wage.
“We’re at the federal rate, $7.25,” Abrami, incumbent Republican, said. “Most people in New Hampshire don’t work at the minimum wage. I just saw McDonalds advertised at $9.50.”
Abrami continued to say that minimum wage jobs are “starter jobs” and that the market should dictate the minimum wage. He said he thought the wage should be increased, but not to $15.
Democrat Altschiller began her piece by trying to “dispel a myth” that a minimum wage job is a starter job.
“I can tell you from my work that these are not starter jobs and these are not kids’ job,” Altschiller said. She works as an outreach coordinator for a domestic and sexual violence crisis center. “At minimum wage, that gives you $290 a week if you are able to secure 40 hours. You cannot work a minimum wage job and keep yourself at the 30 percent or less threshold of your take home pay.”
Altschiller said she supported a graduated raise in minimum wage.
Rounding out District 19, incumbent Republican Ward used the example of 16-year-olds picking strawberries for work in the summertime, and if they should be afforded a raised minimum wage.
“I do believe that the free market should control what (businesses) are paying,” Ward said. “I think there’s some ramifications if you just bump it up without exploring more.”
Lovejoy, incumbent Democrat, said that while she would love to raise New Hampshire minimum wage to $15, “that’s just not going to happen.”
“I would like to see us gradually raise our minimum wage to $10 an hour and reevaluate in the future,” she said. “We are the only state in New England that still has a minimum wage of $7.25.”
Senate candidate and Democrat Sherman said he had just spent time in a high school political science class where they did minimum wage calculations.
“It is very clear, even if you are a single person on $10 an hour, and you take out housing and you take out food, you really have nothing left,” Sherman said. He also emphasized that the Legislature must work with small businesses. He said $7.25 is “unacceptable.”
Later in the night, a resident asked if the candidates would be looking to erode the Second Amendment laws in New Hampshire in any way.
Lovejoy answered first, saying she would like to make citizens safer with expanded background checks. She said she wouldn’t do anything to prevent New Hampshire residents from owning a gun, but that no matter where a gun is purchased, background checks should be administered.
Altschiller related back to her work with domestic violence victims. She said many domestic violence offenders can obtain guns even after an arrest.
“I know that it puts people in danger,” she said. “I safety plan with people whose husbands have threatened their lives and have access to weapons.” She said she would not interfere with how law enforcement is currently involved in permitting.
Abrami said that while he has “never held a gun,” he supports the Second Amendment. He went on to speak about checks on a person’s mental status.
“Most of the mass shootings we hear about, the person had some mental instability,” he said. “We have the problem of knowing that this person could be a dangerous person, but they have their rights not to be violated.” Abrami said he would vote for something about mental health checks that “makes sense.”
Sherman mentioned a bill that came through the House trying to take away the right for the University of New Hampshire campus to be gun-free.
“You take an 18-year-old kid under the influence of opioids or alcohol and they’re legally carrying a weapon on a college campus?”
Sherman said the only way for gun violence to stop is for “responsible gun owners to sit down with responsible legislators and come up with common sense solutions.”
“Whatever the answer is, we’ve got to find it because our kids are dying.”
Ward did not comment on the gun control topic.
Voting takes place Nov. 8.
Source: Seacoast Online