Candidates sound off at Meredith forum
September 29, 2010
MEREDITH — Area voters had the opportunity to put faces to names on the ballot in a candidate meet and greet at the Meredith Community Center Friday night.
The event was held in collaboration with the Democrats of Meredith and the Meredith Republican Party. Liz Tentorelli of the League of Women Voters moderated the discussion, taking question cards by audience members and compiling them into questions.
Candidates running for state representative were Democrats Kate Miller, the incumbent, and Carla Horne and Republicans Bob Greemore and Colette Worsman. Republican Jeanie Forrester and incumbent Democrat Deb Reynolds are running for state senate. In the race for county commissioner, Democrat Stephen Copithorne of Alton is running against Republican Stephen Nedeau of Meredith.
State spending and the state budget was the biggest topic for the candidates. Greemore, Worsman, and Forrester all expressed the opinion that the state has been spending too much.
"We have a spending problem, and I believe it's solvable," Worsman said. "I believe it's going to take some ingenuity."
Worsman said 37 other states have cut spending and said Meredith, where she is a selectmen, has found efficiencies in its own budget to reduce spending despite the economy.
Reynolds and Miller said the state has already cut as much as it can.
"We are at a bare bones budget," Reynolds said.
"I don't believe it's responsible to make such a flat statement when there are so many individual questions that need to be raised," Miller said.
Miller and Horne said across the board cuts will not help the problem.
Greemore, Worsman, and Forrester said they have taken the pledge to oppose any expanded taxes while Reynolds, Miller, and Horne said they have not.
"I pledge to listen to you," Reynolds said. "We have to have an open mind and some sound solutions about how to support state (budgets.)"
"I would never take a pledge on anything unless I understood what I'm pledging for," Horne said.
Both Reynolds and Miller have supported expanded gambling as a potential revenue source.
"Everything needs to be on the table including expanded gaming," Miller said. "As long as we have a structure defined in this state, everything is on the table."
Forrester and Worsman said they oppose expanded gambling.
"It's not the right thing for the state," Forrester said. "I think we need to cut spending before we start looking at revenue sources."
Greemore and Worsman said there are too many fees, taxes, and regulations on state businesses and many of those can be removed to further encourage job growth.
"They've got to cut some of the regulations and cut some of the things that force businesses out of here," Greemore said.
Worsman said the construction business she manages with her husband needs licensing every two years, which she said costs more time and effort. Horne said she also has to pay licensing fees, but her building inspection business continues to grow and she raised rates once in nine years.
"I'm not so sure we have to help all of these small businesses," Horne said. "Maybe they have to help themselves a little bit."
Miller said New Hampshire was ranked the seventh most business-friendly by the Tax Foundation.
"Certainly the broadband effort that Sen. Reynolds has spearheaded is a huge boon to small businesses," Miller said.
Reynolds said the state has been doing reasonably well despite the economy.
"I think we're doing a lot; obviously we could be doing more," Reynolds said.
Reynolds said the expansion of broadband is critical for New Hampshire's economy and she has made great efforts to expand it.
Forrester also praised Reynolds' broadband initiatives and said wireless services should also be expanded. Forrester also said the state should be working to help small businesses.
"We're getting killed in this state with regulations to small business," Forrester said.
Worsman and Forrester said they support school vouchers, both saying parents know best in the education of their children.
"I think we need to support education, but I also agree we need local control," Forrester said.
Miller and Reynolds said they oppose vouchers and wanted to further support the school system.
Nedeau, Forrester, Worsman, and Greemore support the death penalty while Miller and Reynolds said they opposed it. Horne said she did not have an opinion as there are too many variables.
On abortion, Horne, Miller, Reynolds, Copithorne, and Greemore said they supported a woman's right to choose. Worsman and Forrester said they were pro-life. Reynolds, Miller, and Horne said they also supported marriage equality, while Worsman, Forrester, and Greemore said marriage should be between a man and a woman. Worsman and Forrester said while other issues take precedence, they would be in favor of overturning same-sex marriage. Greemore said the decision should be made by voters.
On county issues, both Copithorne and Nedeau opposed privatizing the Belknap County Nursing Home and supported expansion at Gunstock Mountain Resort.
"I think we need to treat that as a resource for the county," Copithorne said.
Copithorne said he wanted to see some services, such as mental health services, brought to the county level and said the lack of support for mental health services would lead to increased stress on budgets for police and hospitals. Nedeau said cutting county services would have an adverse effect on its residents.