September 19, 2012BATH —Last week, Republican primary voters decided the fate of long-time District 1 Executive Councilor Ray Burton. Burton passed the test. He beat retired businessman Jerry Thibodeau by nearly 10,000 votes in the Republican primary.
With the victory, Burton advances to the general election against Democrat Beth Funicella. The councilor was first elected to his position in 1976.
Last Tuesday's primary result may not have been a major surprise, although the size was impressive. Burton's 71 to 29 percent margin was rather comfortable, especially after nine Grafton state house Republicans announced their support for Thibodeau last month.
When asked about the party unity question, Burton was optimistic. He noted that Republicans unite after primaries. The councilor, with his trademark devotion to hearing from people, holds no grudges. He wrote, "Those who did not endorse me are always welcome to contact my office at any time on any issue!"
Controversy was created in the last few days before the primary. Thibodeau's request to run a campaign video was turned down at Littleton's Channel 2. Bob O'Connor at the station said Channel 2 does not run political ads. Some other stations in District 1 chose to run the video.
Republicans who supported Thibodeau suggested that Burton's actions were often contrary to party interests. Generally speaking, Thibodeau's supporters said that Burton was too lax on spending and judicial appointments.
Their desire for change failed to resonate in District 1. Thibodeau only won two of the district's 112 precincts, Orange and Wilmot. Burton even won in Rumney, where Thibodeau lives, by a small margin.
Burton had very strong support in this area. Littleton went for the Councilor 367-146, a 72 to 28 percent victory margin. Bethlehem was in Burton's court even more, giving him 75 percent of the town's 179 votes.
The area around Bath, where Burton lives, was rock solid for the councilor. He won 87 percent of the vote in his hometown, 83 percent in Haverhill, and 74 percent in Landaff.
Burton's legendary constituent service is highly respected, even by those who preferred Thibodeau. In a statement after the victory, Burton wrote, "I have always said the 108 communities I represent and serve is a great opportunity." He further noted, "There is no better satisfaction then assisting my constituents in issues they face."
While talking with residents, Burton can quickly provide a suggestion on way to get information or better service from a state agency. Often, Burton can give a particular staff person's phone number off the top of his head.
In further remarks about his win, Burton felt vindicated. He wrote, "the message was very clear to me and my service to the 260,000 people who live here."
The vote tally for some additional District 1 precincts were: Colebrook, 233 for Burton (84 percent), 46 for Thibodeau; Franconia, 93 for Burton (63 percent) , 54 Thibodeau, and; Lancaster, 343 for Burton (86 percent), 57 for Thibodeau.