Some clouds
50°
Some clouds
Hi 52° | Lo 37°

Rindge

Political hopefuls bring their platforms to region

RINDGE: Debate series kicks off at Franklin Pierce with Republican gubernatorial hopefuls

  • The Monadnock Debates at Franklin Pierce University Tuesday night featured gubernatorial hopefuls Andrew Hemingway, Walt Havenstein and Jonathan Smolin.
  • The Monadnock Debates at Franklin Pierce University Tuesday night featured gubernatorial hopefuls Andrew Hemingway, Walt Havenstein and Jonathan Smolin.
  • The Monadnock Debates at Franklin Pierce University Tuesday night featured gubernatorial hopefuls Andrew Hemingway, Walt Havenstein and Jonathan Smolin.
  • The Monadnock Debates at Franklin Pierce University Tuesday night featured gubernatorial hopefuls Andrew Hemingway, Walt Havenstein and Jonathan Smolin.
  • The Monadnock Debates at Franklin Pierce University Tuesday night featured gubernatorial hopefuls Andrew Hemingway, Walt Havenstein and Jonathan Smolin.
  • The Monadnock Debates at Franklin Pierce University Tuesday night featured gubernatorial hopefuls Andrew Hemingway, Walt Havenstein and Jonathan Smolin.
  • The Monadnock Debates at Franklin Pierce University Tuesday night featured gubernatorial hopefuls Andrew Hemingway, Walt Havenstein and Jonathan Smolin.
  • The Monadnock Debates at Franklin Pierce University Tuesday night featured gubernatorial hopefuls Andrew Hemingway, Walt Havenstein and Jonathan Smolin.
  • The Monadnock Debates at Franklin Pierce University Tuesday night featured gubernatorial hopefuls Andrew Hemingway, Walt Havenstein and Jonathan Smolin.
  • The Monadnock Debates at Franklin Pierce University Tuesday night featured gubernatorial hopefuls Andrew Hemingway, Walt Havenstein and Jonathan Smolin.
  • The Monadnock Debates at Franklin Pierce University Tuesday night featured gubernatorial hopefuls Andrew Hemingway, Walt Havenstein and Jonathan Smolin.
  • The Monadnock Debates at Franklin Pierce University Tuesday night featured gubernatorial hopefuls Andrew Hemingway, Walt Havenstein and Jonathan Smolin.

Should New Hampshire reduce — or even eliminate — its business tax? How do we create more jobs for the people of the Granite State? What is the state of health care in New Hampshire? These were some of the questions on the minds of three gubernatorial hopefuls who took to the podium during the first installment of the Monadnock Debates on Tuesday night at Franklin Pierce University.

And through their responses, the answer to the question on the minds of the audience — would any of these three Republican candidates emerge as a serious contender to incumbent Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan? — began to take shape.

The debates are being presented by FPU, the Ledger-Transcript and NHPTV.

Andrew Hemingway of Bristol, Walt Havenstein of Alton and Jonathan Smolin, also of Alton, all made their case for the governorship.

“I’m running for governor to get our economy running again,” Havenstein said. “We’ve got a ‘walking dead’ economy — it’s not moving and it has no life.” Havenstein went on to outline his “8.15.17” plan, which he said would create 25,000 new jobs in New Hampshire by Aug. 15, 2017, by reducing the business profits tax to encourage economic growth.

Hemingway, similarly, pushed the economy as his major issue, while espousing a hands-off philosophy with regard to most issues. He said his proposed business tax cut — in favor of a 2 percent flat tax on all business owners — would create a “free, flat, fair market” in New Hampshire, “the home of the small business owner.”

“We have to breath life back into our economy, and the way to do that is to get government out of the way,” Hemingway said.

Smolin, too, is pushing a flat tax; however, the issue he seemed most concerned with was education. He proposed a system under which students who achieved high academic success in high school could be eligible for reduced — or free — state college tuition, a proposal that Hemingway was quick to rebut.

“Free college? Sounds fantastic!” Hemingway said. “I’m wondering how the state is going to pay for that.”

Smolin replied that reorganization of state higher education funding might be enough to achieve the goal.

The candidates were never pushed too far out of their comfort zone during the debates, save one moment: After Havenstein referred to New Hampshire’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act as “nothing short of a disaster,” Hemingway blasted him for his oft-publicized connections to the act. Havenstein’s Virginia-based company, SAIC, received over $5 million in federal contracts relating to the rollout of “Obamacare.” Even then, Havenstein didn’t stray too far from his talking points, arguing that he was acting as a CEO, not on his personal beliefs. Smolin took that opportunity to pile on.

“As governor, you are the CEO of the state,” Smolin pointed out; did that mean his personal beliefs would never come into play if he was elected?

After the debate, the candidates hung around to meet with the public who’d filled FPU’s Spagnuolo Hall. Anne Cartwright of Alstead bent Hemingway’s ear for a bit, telling him “how important it is for people to have health-care facilities near them,” she said.

John Harris of Westmoreland dismissed Smolin’s chances, while expressing a bit of skepticism about the front-runners as well.

“It’s early for both of these candidates,” Harris said, with an emphasis on “both.” He was not swayed either way by the debates, he said. “I came mostly to hear what issues they might disagree on.”

Sen. Peggy Gilmour (D-Hollis) was also in attendance, sizing up the potential opponents for her fellow Democrat, Hassan.

“I was frankly a little surprised they didn’t take the opportunity to get into some specifics on their issue stance,” Gilmour said in a Wednesday interview. “Frustrating. What I hear is political default and rhetoric, without bringing a thoughtful approach and problem-solving, working in the best interest of the people of New Hampshire.”

Before the debate got started, Democratic candidate Ian Freeman of Keene was given 10 minutes to speak, as there were no other Democratic contenders challenging Hassan.

“Politicians are a cowardly, cruel bunch, aren’t they?” posited Freeman, before railing against Hassan for her continued “prohibition” of marijuana. “The United States government is the biggest criminal gang there is.” He went on to say that New Hampshire “really should declare independence from the federal government.”

Reporter Benji Rosen contributed to this report.

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.