Four candidates vie for three seats in District 5 race


November 01, 2012
COUNTY — Four candidates are in the race for three District Five state representative seats to serve the towns of Brookfield, Effingham, Ossipee and Wakefield. Voters in those towns will head to the polls Nov. 6 to decide which three will best represent them in Concord and at the county delegation table for the next two years.

We sent each candidate a questionnaire, Harry Merrow (R-Ossipee), Bill Nelson (R-Brookfield), Tom Lavender (D-Brookfield) and Liz Olimpio (R-Wakefield) all responded. We feature the candidates' responses, in their own words, below.

TOM LAVENDER

Why are you running for this office?

Because I believe that the legislature is not serving New Hampshire very well, instead is off on a more social tack that ignores the real issues.

What qualifications, qualities or experience would you bring to this position?

I have worked at a high level in a major corporation, and at a startup computer company. I have served on three local boards, and have been involved with several local organizations.

What do you consider the three major challenges New Hampshire is facing?

Health Care, education, and the economy.

What would you do to address these challenges if you are elected?

I would work for change and vote in the best interests of New Hampshire, but as a new representative I must be patient.

What do you consider the three major challenges at the County government level?

Funding, funding, and funding.

Have you held political office before?

In Brookfield I have served on the Zoning Board and as a Trustee of Trust Funds and Cemetery Trustee.

Additional information

Current president of Wakefield Lions Club

Wakefield Meals on Wheels driver

Gafney Library Treasurer

Gafney Trust Trustee

Wakefield Food Pantry Volunteer

Director of P2P [a local 501(c) 3 trying to help needy local people]

Retired from Liberty Mutual Insurance Group

Degree in Mathematics from the University of Alabama [Roll Tide]

Served in the Navy

Basically a computer person

HARRY MERROW

Why are you running for this office?

I care about the state. I am a New Hampshire native and New Hampshire has been good to me. When I retired I felt I had some knowledge that would be useful and decided it was time I gave a little back.

What qualifications, qualities or experience would you bring to this position?

I have 30 years' experience working in engineering and management for a large international company. I worked in most of the states and in several countries. I worked with upper and lower management in both small and very large companies. I believe this gave me a good insight into what many of the problems were as well as the good things that were happening. This helped make me aware of how to handle some of the problems that need correcting in the state. I am also in my 14th year as a selectman for the town of Ossipee and have a good insight regarding interfaces between the state and towns.

I also served four years in the U. S. Air Force (one in the Far East) which certainly helped me achieve a better perspective of what went on outside of New Hampshire.

My educational background is as follows: Attended Ossipee Central School, Brewster Academy, and UNH (BS Electrical Engineering).

What do you consider the three major challenges New Hampshire is facing?

New Hampshire needs to create a more job-friendly environment by lowering the business tax and eliminating or simplifying rules and regulations that impede small (and large) businesses. High property taxes are another major concern. There has to be a reasonable way to cut expenses and/or gain more income by job growth, which would allow these taxes to be lowered. The third challenge is providing an adequate education at a reasonable fair cost. Although you only asked for three I would also have to add the need for affordable housing for the elderly and the average working family.

Have you held political office before?

In 1997 I served a year as water and sewer commissioner for the town of Ossipee. From 2002 to 2007, I served as a selectman. Then I decided to take a year off and returned as selectman in 2008 and am currently in the same position (14th year).

I have served for eight years as a State Representative in district Carroll 3. In 2002 I also served as Chair of the Public Water Access Advisory Board, and have served one term on the Board of Directors of LCHIP. I have served all eight years on the Resources Recreation and Development Committee (one term as Vice Chair).

Additional information

My wife Lucy and I have been married for 12 years. I have three children and six grandchildren and I thank all of them for their strong support. I am also a Mason and a Shriner and love to fish and hike. I have been endorsed, based on my voting record, by NFIB (National Federation of Small Business) who is New Hampshire's and the nation's leading small business association.

BILL NELSON

Why are you running for office?

Up until now, I have sat at home and complained about some of the decisions being made in Concord. It was time to stop complaining and be part of the solution. I seek the opportunity to represent the residents of Wakefield, Ossipee, Effingham and Brookfield and make the needs of our communities known.

What qualifications, qualities or experience would you bring to this position?

I have BS degree form Spring Hill College and an MA from Johnson State College. I have been a selectman in Brookfield for 10 years. I have been in the education field for 39 years. I retired in 2007, and since then, my wife Joan and I have volunteered to coordinate a ministry to the hospitalized, homebound and dying.

All these experiences have given me a unique glimpse into the everyday struggles and hardships facing many of the families in our region. My experiences have exposed me to a wide spectrum of needs in our communities. From the rich to the poor, students that are gifted to those with special needs. I visit the elderly and have sat with the dying and their families. With all our differences, we are so similar. Illness, loss of a loved one, and unemployment are things that face us all. If elected as a State Representative, I understand that I will be representing citizens and families from all backgrounds and truly believe we all want what is best for our state.

What do you consider the three major challenges New Hampshire is facing?

1. Just like most families in this state, our government is struggling to live within its means. We are trying to balance needs vs. wants. Some in Concord propose that we look to sales and/or income taxes as the solution. I believe this is the wrong approach, and we need only look to our neighboring states to see that more taxes do not seem to help matters. Several years back the legislature was spending money that we did not have. The Republican House and Senate took control and made the hard decision to get out of the hole. More taxes and reckless spending will help nothing and only compound the problems we are facing. We need to look at responsible cutbacks, but also be unafraid to look at things such as: common sense reforms, responsible spending and promoting efficiency.

2. Many schools around New Hampshire are not meeting the needs of their students. (I say many around the state, because GWRSD is an exception.) Students are often bored leading to underachievement and/or discipline problems. The coding of special education students is important, but often has an unintended consequence of fostering dependency, and lowering expectations of parents, teachers and the students alike. There has to be a better way to meet our children's needs without creating and ongoing cycle of dependency that will follow them clear into adulthood.

3. Parental rights need to be protected. I have heard parents say they are afraid to discipline their child because the state may take them away. It doesn't take long for a child to pick up on this! Similar issues face the classroom teacher. You need to be so careful in anything you do because of the fear of being fired or sued. In our efforts to "protect" our children, we are often "neglecting" to act in their best interest.

What would you do to address these challenges if you are elected?

As someone new to state government I would concentrate my first year on trying to influence proposed legislation that deals with these issues.

What do you consider the three major challenges at the County government level?

1. Reasonable budgets.

2. Working cooperatively.

3. Deciding what to do with the old county nursing home.

Have you held political office before?

I am in the middle of my fourth term as a selectman in Brookfield.

Additional information.

1. I have been married to my wife Joan for 43 years. I have four children and three grandchildren.

2. I have lived in Carroll County for 24 years.

3. I serve as the Secretary to the Great Bay Radio Association, am a member of ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) and the Assistant Emergency Management Director in Brookfield.

LIZ OLIMPIO

Why are you running for office?

Need better communication between Concord and taxpayers.

What qualifications, qualities or experience would you bring to this position?

Many years in town and state public positions.

What do you consider the three major challenges NH is facing?

The economy, unemployment, and education

What would you do to address these challenges if you are elected?

Work in committee to keep things sane and conservative.

What do you consider the three major challenges at the County government level?

Discord among commissioners, problems at the jail and nursing home

Have you held political office before?

1970-78, Wakefield School Board and Budget Committee

1980-84, Selectman, Wakefield

1984-90, Representative to General Court

2000-2002, Budget Committee

2004-08, Representative to General Court

2010. to present Wakefield School Board

Additional information

Widowed

Work for Hayes Real Estate (28 years)

Five children, six fosters.

BA Ohio Wesleyan University, M. Ed. UNH.

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