Selectman John O'Brien at his desk in the Selectmen’s office at Gilford Town Hall. (Jeff Ferland) (click for larger version)
July 18, 2012Selectman John O'Brien recently announced his campaign for District 2 Representative for the New Hampshire House of Representatives as an Undeclared or independent candidate.
Under the new redistricting plan, O'Brien, if elected, would represent Gilford and Meredith in the State House.
O'Brien said that, for years, he did not follow local politics, as he was traveling most of the time for business. He said he did not even know who the mayor was of his hometown, Andover, Mass.
Upon retirement, O'Brien moved to his summer home in Gunstock Acres and joined the Gunstock Acres Water Village District.
"It was an experience I had not had. Once I retired, I had the time," said O'Brien.
He said the district appointed him the representative to the budget committee.
"I enjoyed learning more about the town," said O'Brien.
With more experience, O'Brien said he became more involved with the meetings, and had more of an impact.
"I think I brought some middle of the road logic to the committee," said O'Brien.
He decided to run for an elected seat on the budget committee. In his third term on the budget committee, he decided to run for Selectman, and was elected in 2008 for his first term. O'Brien was reelected to the Board of Selectmen in 2012.
Though he said he never imagined he would get involved in politics, O'Brien has a degree in Political Science and History. He also earned a certificate in local governemnt leadership from Antioch College — what O'Brien called his "Selectman Degree."
O'Brien said his background in corporate managment and sales and marketing, where he said he was, at one point, in charge of a half the territory of a national corporation, combined with his experince with the budget committee and as a selectman, gave him a "broad veiw."
"It seems like I had a million classes in government when I was with 3M company," said O'Brien.
Now, O'Brien hopes to carry his experience in corporate managment and local government to the State House of Representatives.
O'Brien said some of his strengths include identifying budgetary problems and interpreting need and cost.
Some of the challenges O'Brien said he may face would be learning more about the Meredith community so that he might better represent all residents in the district, and learning the procedures of the State House of Representatives.
O'Brien hopes to learn quickly so he might have the most influence during his time as a local representative.
O'Brien said he chose to run as an undeclared candidate so that he might vote on items without any influence from either parties in the two-party system.
"The advantage of not being registered in a party is I don't have to follow any guidelines of a national party," said O'Brien. "I can take each item individually."
He said the decision to run undeclared brought about a good response from many residents.
Since O'Brien is not affiliated with a political party, he cannot receive a nomination, and will not be on the Primary ballot. To get his name on the election ballot in November, he must collect 150 signatures from residents endorsing his candidacy.
"It's an interesting requirement," he said, adding that it did not slow him down, as he already had about 130 signatures after only two weeks.
"I look forward to having the continued support of the people of Gilford," said O'Brien.