January 15, 2014WHITEFIELD — When asked straight out why registered Republicans and Independents should go to the polls next Tuesday to vote for him in the special primary election, Mark Aldrich of Lebanon replied, "They'd be choosing the candidate for the Republican nomination for the District 1 Executive Council seat who has very substantial governmental expertise and has worked for 20 years — 1979 to 2000 — on constituent services, the nuts and bolts of economic development, and connecting up cities and towns with state and federal elected officials and knowledgeable bureaucrats. These voters would be 'hiring' someone who really knows the ropes."
If elected District 1 Executive Councilor, he committed himself to working full-time to fulfill all its duties in a district that covers nearly half the state and not to use it as a stepping-stone to another elected office.
Aldrich explained over a soft drink during a Jan. 6 interview at a Subway restaurant that he has served as the state Chief of Staff for U.S. Senator Gordon Humphrey and as State Director for U.S. Senator Bob Smith, both Republicans.
In both instances, he said, he had provided constituent services and as an intergovernmental liaison for the whole state, including, of course, the North Country.
Aldrich recalled the legwork he had done on federally funded water supply infrastructure projects in both Berlin and Lancaster. "Aides work on programmatic projects like these on a non-political level, across the aisle," he explained. "I worked as a professional staffer — not on campaigns."
Aldrich opposes the Northern Pass Transmission project as now proposed and believes the High-Voltage Direct Current lines should be buried wherever they would cause aesthetic problems.
"I have an unbending allegiance to keeping our northern New Hampshire natural resources beautiful," he said.
From 2001 to 2003, following his two decades of in-state work for two Republican senators, Aldrich was the Economic Development Director for the City of Claremont, responsible for attracting and retaining businesses in a distressed community of some 13,000 people.
"Approximately 200 new sustainable-wage jobs were created in less than three years," he said, noting that he had initiated a multi-million-dollar restoration of the historic Wainshal Mill, that was successful thanks to an innovative private-public partnership.
He also successfully reorganized the local development authority and recapitalized the local community loan fund with grants from U.S. Rural Development.
Aldrich later worked as a government relations consultant to several high-tech defense companies and also taught civics, anthropology, and world history at Pinkerton Academy in Derry, from which he graduated in 1967.
After earning his high school diploma, Aldrich entered UNH in Durham where he earned his B.A. in political science in 1974.
"It was such a confusing time in those years that I dropped out in 1971, joined a band as a keyboard player, and stayed for three years before returning to college," he explained.
Aldrich describes himself as a conservative Republican who is not affiliated with the Tea Party movement.
"I'm fiscally conservative, and socially a libertarian," the candidate said, adding that his views were not necessarily exactly aligned with the two men for whom he worked.
Aldrich lived in Lebanon, Amarillo, Tx., and Derry when he was growing up and in Concord when he worked for Senators Humphrey and Smith.
He and Connie, his wife of 43 years, moved to Lebanon five years ago after his mother died to be nearer his dad, Frederick Aldrich, the City's former mayor and a state rep. who is now a very vigorous 89 years old.
The couple has a son, Jonathan, who is in his mid-30s and works for Optics 1 Inc., a N. H. defense industry contractor. He and his wife have two children — 4-year-old Alex and 6-year-old Dylan — and are expecting a baby daughter this summer.
Their daughter, Molly, lives in South Boston, Mass., and works at a water treatment facility in Worcester, Mass.