Jonah Wheeler tops Democrats in Hillsborough 33 primary; Vann unseated

  • Jonah Wheeler of Peterborough campaigns for a seat in House District 33 outside the Peterborough Community Center Tuesday, Sept. 13. STAFF PHOTO BY BEN CONANT

  • Peter Leishman of Peterborough campaigns for a seat in House District 33 outside the Peterborough Community Center Tuesday, Sept. 13. STAFF PHOTO BY BEN CONANT

  • Jonah Wheeler of Peterborough campaigns for a seat in House District 33 outside the Peterborough Community Center Tuesday, Sept. 13. STAFF PHOTO BY BEN CONANT

  • Assistant Moderator Mary Loftis helps voters submit their ballots at Dublin Town Hall on Tuesday afternoon. —PHOTO BY HANNAH SCHROEDER / KEENE SENTINEL

  • Rachel Kipka passes her ballot to Assistant Moderator Mary Loftis, stopping to chat before exiting Dublin Town Hall during primary voting Tuesday afternoon.  PHOTO BY HANNAH SCHROEDER / KEENE SENTINEL

  • Traceymay Kalvaitis talks to her fellow ballot clerks at Dublin Town Hall during Tuesday's primary. (Hannah Schroeder/Sentinel Staff) —PHOTO BY HANNAH SCHROEDER / KEENE SENTINEL

  • Ballot clerk Kiki Sangermano passes along a ballot to a Dublin primary voter Tuesday afternoon at Dublin Town Hall.  —PHOTO BY HANNAH SCHROEDER / KEENE SENTINEL

  • Ballot clerk Laura Elcoate checks a voter’s identification before sending them to ballot clerk Kiki Sangermano to receive their ballot at Dublin Town Hall Tuesday afternoon. —PHOTO BY HANNAH SCHROEDER / KEENE SENTINEL

  • Jay Schechter fills out the undecided voter list, with supervisor Sarah Sangermano’s help, after voting at Dublin Town Hall Tuesday afternoon.  —PHOTO BY HANNAH SCHROEDER / KEENE SENTINEL

  • Ballot clerks, from left, KiKi Sangermano, Mary Clark, Traceymay Kalvaitis and Laura Elcoate check voter identification while checking people in at Dublin Town Hall Tuesday afternoon. —PHOTO BY HANNAH SCHROEDER / KEENE SENTINEL

  • Rita Mattson and Jeffrey Dickler campaign outside Dublin Town Hall on Tuesday afternoon. PHOTO BY HANNAH SCHROEDER / KEENE SENTINEL

  • Rita Mattson talks with Jeffrey Dickler while campaigning outside Dublin Town Hall Tuesday afternoon. —PHOTO BY HANNAH SCHROEDER / KEENE SENTINEL

  • Voting at the Peterborough Community Center for the primary election on Tuesday, Sept. 13. STAFF PHOTO BY BEN CONANT—

  • Voting at the Peterborough Community Center for the primary election on Tuesday, Sept. 13. STAFF PHOTO BY BEN CONANT—

  • Voting at the Peterborough Community Center for the primary election on Tuesday, Sept. 13. STAFF PHOTO BY BEN CONANT—

  • Jim Fedolfi, Riché Colcombe and Jim Creighton campaign in Antrim on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO BY SCOTT MERRILL—

  • Town Moderator Richard Haskins, left, at the Hancock Town Hall on primary day.  STAFF PHOTO BY SCOTT MERRILL—

  • Shane Sirois campaigns outside of the New Ipswich polls. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

  • State represesntative candidate John Hunt campaigns outside of the Rindge polls. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

  • State representative candidate Dick Ames, along with Nancy Elder-Wilfrid and Dan Wilfrid of Jaffrey, campaign outside of the Jaffrey polls on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/14/2022 4:35:00 PM
Modified: 9/14/2022 4:34:29 PM

Newcomer Jonah Wheeler of Peterborough received more votes than incumbents Ivy Vann and Peter Leishman in the Democratic Hillsborough 33 state representative primary Tuesday, unseating Vann and joining Leishman on the ballot for November’s general election.

“I’m feeling shocked,” Wheeler said Wednesday morning. “Ivy Vann and Peter Leishman are both very popular, well-established good people, and so what happened yesterday was incredible.”

Wheeler, 19, an education justice organizer, received 817 votes in Peterborough and Sharon, topping Leishman (777) and Vann (744). Wheeler is just two years out of ConVal High School and would likely be the youngest representative in the state House if he is elected in November.

“I think the edge was a bunch of high school voters who came out and voted for the first time,” Wheeler said. “It was also a base of people in town who want young people in office, who want people with energy and vision.”

Wheeler and Leishman will vie for Hillsborough 33’s two seats against Republicans Rachel Maidment and Matthew Pilcher. The district (which was known as Hillsborough 24 prior to this year’s redistricting) has elected Democrats to both seats in every election for the past 10 years. Wheeler hopes to keep the district blue, and urged voters to look around Hillsborough County to other races where Democrats could flip about 10 seats and regain control of the state House.

“If we can win those 10 seats, we can take back the state House and really start causing some trouble and take back the state,” Wheeler said. “[Otherwise], the Republicans are going to expand the education freedom account, they’re going to expand an abortion ban – they are very open about what they are going to do in the next session… . I think that taking back the state House is critical, and right now Democrats are very united to get that done.”

House Cheshire County District 13

Rita Mattson of Dublin handily won the primary nod for the Republicans in Cheshire County District 13, which includes Jaffrey and Dublin.

Mattson faced Christopher Mazerall of Jaffrey and Donald Primrose of Dublin in the primary. She will go on to face incumbent Democrat Richard Ames in the general election in November. Ames ran unopposed in the primary, and garnered 376 votes in Jaffrey and 213 votes in Dublin.

Mattson has twice before sought a seat in the House, when Dublin was part of District 9, which included Harrisville and Roxbury. After redistricting reduced the district to just Dublin and Jaffrey, Mattson said she is hopeful for a more-balanced race.

“I’ll work for it. I’ll be out there every day working for it,” Mattson said Wednesday. “My plan right now is to campaign hard and talk to as many people as I can. I think the key is talking to people and letting them know I’m for them, and not for me. People get into power and think it’s about them, but it’s not. It’s about the people.”

Mattson performed strongly in both towns, taking about 70 percent of the overall vote. In Jaffrey, she had 337 votes to Primrose’s 74 and Mazerall’s 55, and in Dublin, she had 129 votes to Primrose’s 46 and Mazerall’s 28.

House Hillsborough County District 32

Incumbents Kim Kofalt and Diane Kelley will move forward to the general election, joined by political newcomer Shane Sirois, to represent the Republicans for Hillsborough District 32, which includes New Ipswich, Temple and Wilton. Philip Andrews of New Ipswich, who placed fourth with with 22 percent of the vote, is out of the race for the three available seats.

Kofalt, Sirois and Kelley will face Democrats Michael DeLoria of Temple, Richard Swanson of Wilton and Kermit Williams of Wilton, who ran uncontested, along with independent Charles Page of New Ipswich.

Kofalt finished first in the Republican primary with 32 percent of the vote, outpacing Sirois with 24 percent and Kelley with 22 percent.

Despite her overall win, Kelley lagged in New Ipswich, where she took 412 votes – last overall in that town, where Andrews took 441 votes, Sirois 478 and Kofalt 607.

In Wilton, Kofalt led by a margin of nearly 100 votes, with 294 votes to Kelley’s 201, Sirois’ 196 and Andrews’ 158.

“We had four good candidates, and I would have been pleased to work with any two of the three other candidates,” Kofalt said Wednesday. “I’m looking forward to a good race in the general.”

Sirois said the three winning Republican candidates plan to campaign together and run as a slate.

Sirois and Kofalt said the economy and content being taught in schools were high among the concerns of constituents they spoke to at the polls on Tuesday.

“I saw a lot of people very concerned, especially with taxes, the economy and electricity prices. And a lot of people wanting to make sure that we’re teaching academics, and not veering into indoctrination. That’s what I’m hearing loud and clear from people,” Kofalt said.

Sirois said he was also concerned with “indoctrination,” and “LGBTQ literature” being introduced to students in schools.

“I have a son in middle school and I do not want that stuff anywhere near him,” Sirois said.

House Hillsborough County District 42

The redistricting of Hillsborough District 42, a floterial district that includes Lyndeborough, New Boston and Mont Vernon, created a situation where four Republican incumbents were seeking three seats.

Gerald Griffin of Mont Vernon, Lisa C.M. Post of Lyndeborough and Keith Ammon of New Boston took the top three spots, leaving behind William Foster as they move to the general election ballot in November.

Richard Backus, Brian Paquette and Karen Roach ran unopposed for the Democratic ticket. In Lyndeborough, there was no clear standout, with Roach taking the most votes in town with 104, Paquette with 95 and Backus 92.

Though she came in third overall, with a total of 23 percent of the vote, Post did particularly well in her hometown of Lyndeborough, taking 203 votes, compared to Ammon’s 116, Griffin’s 115 and Foster’s 109.

Ammon said Wednesday that all the Republican candidates know each other, and he would have been happy to continue working with any of them.

“This was a race that was only contested because of the new district layout,” Ammon said. “We’re all friends and we all vote similarly, and the voters really couldn’t lose with whoever they voted for.”

Ammon noted that with one of each of the three primary winners coming from each of the representative towns, he felt the Republican Party was well-poised to provide good representation for the district.

House Hillsborough County District 45

Colton Skorupan eked out a narrow victory by 21 votes in the Republican primary for Hillsborough District 45, which includes Greenville, Mason, Hollis and Brookline.

Skorupan faced Jack Flanagan, a former member of the House of Representatives, who represented Hillsborough District 26 from 2010 to 2016, and again from 2018 to 2020.

Flanagan performed well in Brookline, the only town where he took more votes than Skorupan, with 320-241. In Mason, Skorupan beat Flanagan 131-68, and in Greenville, he led 89-61. The vote was closer in Hollis, where the difference was less than 10 votes, 467-458, with Skorupan in the lead.

In the general election, Skorupan will face Democratic candidate Karen E. Calabro, who ran unopposed in the primary. Calabro garnered a total of 1,120 votes across all four towns.

Uncontested races

Several candidates moved on to the November ballot without contest from the primaries.

In Hillsborough District 27, Republican Karen Reid will face Democrat Susan Kane for the single seat.

In Hillsborough District 30, which has three available seats, Democrats Peter J. Koutroubas, Jonathan Manley and Christopher Wallenstein will face Republicans Riche Colcombe, Jim Creighton and James L. Fedolfi.

In Hillsborough District 31, Democrat Molly C. Howard will face Republican Jarvis Adams IV for the single seat.

In Hillsborough District 36, which has two available seats, Brian Rater and Brendan Denehy will be on the Democratic ballot and Diane Pauer and John Lewicke will be on the Republican ballot.

In Cheshire District 14, Hannah Bissex will represent the Democrats against Republican incumbent John Hunt.

Cheshire District 18 has two available seats. Democrats John McCarthy and Jeffrey Dickler will run against Republicans Matthew Santonastaso and Jim Qualey.

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