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Woods and Bradley compete for Senate District Three in Tamworth debate

House District 3 candidates also spar at debate

STATE SENATOR JEB BRADLEY (R-Wolfeboro) listens to his rival Democrat Beverly Woods of Wolfeboro. Woods is running for Bradley’s seat in State Senate District Three. (Daymond Steer photo) (click for larger version)
October 21, 2010
TAMWORTH — State senate candidates Beverly Woods and Jeb Bradley have very different ideas for what they would do with a hypothetical extra $1 million in the state budget.

Bradley, a Republican, and Woods, a Democrat, are both from Wolfeboro. They are competing for the seat on Senate District Three. Both candidates staked out their positions on various issues at a forum at the K.A. Brett School on Oct 12. Candidates for House District Three were also panelists.

The informal forum, organized by local Republicans and Democrats, was moderated by Terry Leavitt of the Conway Daily Sun. Leavitt asked questions on behalf of the audience, who submitted them on cards. About 90 people attended the forum. Leavitt asked what each candidate what they would do if the state received $1 million in unexpected revenue.

Woods agreed with State Rep. Susan Wiley (D-Sandwich) who would use money to restore funding for childcare programs that had to be cut.

But Bradley said he'd use any new money to pay down the "unprecedented $156 million in borrowing" that he blamed on the Democrats or he would reduce the $100 million that the state down shifted to local property taxpayers. The other Republicans at the forum seemed to agree with Bradley.

"At a time when everybody is tightening their belts, state government has to do the same thing," said Bradley.

Woods said she has lived in the district since 1997 and in New Hampshire almost all the time since 1972. She is a musician and a music teacher who designs and runs Web sites for small businesses and organizations, and those jobs allow her to have a flexible schedule. Woods said she's running to represent average people.

"I actually work for a living. I don't come from money," said Woods. "I have a daughter in college. If you are making ends meet day today, I'm exactly in your same shoes."

Bradley, a small business owner and former U.S. Congressman, said he's running for re-election to prevent the state from running off a fiscal cliff. The deficit is so big that it could bring about an income tax, he said. The state must cut spending, just like any business would in that position.

"Our state is at a tipping point," Bradley said. "We are confronting the largest deficit in our state's history — somewhere between $600 million and $900 million."

Woods countered that New Hampshire is among the safest states in the country and the seventh best to run a business. Those stats would be in jeopardy if extreme budget cutters get in office.

"If we keep cutting, cutting, and cutting what are we going to cut that isn't going to impact people in this room?" asked Woods.

The two also had differing responses when asked about taxes. Woods said New Hampshire has a low tax burden compared to other states, but the system could be made fairer. Woods added she'd support a homesteading exemption.

Bradley said he'd oppose an income tax because it would kill jobs and lead to even bigger budget problems. Bradley touted his "pro jobs voting record" as defined by the Business and Industry Association and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

The first audience-submitted question Leavitt asked went to Woods. Leavitt asked if the recession lasts how would Woods balance the common good with lower revenue?

Woods replied that lawmakers would look at every line in the budget for its impact on people.

"Especially those who have the least," said Woods.

Bradley replied that revenue sources aren't likely to improve anytime soon and over the last four years 97 fee or tax hikes have been implemented. The state has to look at the biggest costs — education and Medicaid.

"We have got to shrink the size of government," said Bradley.

The pair also disagreed about taking a pledge to oppose sales and income taxes. Bradley was the only candidate who said he'd take the pledge. He added that if the state had these taxes it would just spend more.

But Woods said that pledge is only a promise to increase residents' property taxes.

When asked what committee they'd like to serve on if elected or re-elected, Bradley replied he'd like to say on Ways and Means where he can fight new taxes that would hurt business. He added that he wouldn't tolerate new taxes that are implemented without a public hearing — such as the camper and LLC taxes.

Woods said she didn't have an answer.

A question about the corrections reform bill SB 500 was addressed to the candidates. The questioner said the bill downshifted cost to property taxpayers.

Bradley explained the bill was meant to reduce recidivism but it made violent offenders eligible for parole when they shouldn't be. Bradley said he was teaming up with other Senators to fix that problem. In January, there should be legislation to deal with the $100 million in costs that was downshifted from the state. That includes more than just SB 500.

Woods replied that Bradley voted for SB 500 and now he's running away from it. She added that if it does reduce recidivism, it would cut cost. Woods said SB 500 needs to be studied to see how well it works against the previous system.

Both candidates support public kindergarten. Woods compared supporting kindergarten to supporting first grade.

Bradley supports public kindergarten when it's affordable for the community. But Bradley also said he hates state mandates.

Woods and Bradley did have some things in common. Both candidates said they enjoy hiking and support the second amendment.

Other highlights:

-Republican house candidate David Babson got some laughs with his response to the question about the million dollars. At first, it wasn't clear if the questioner wanted to know what each candidate would do if they received the money personally or if it was an extra million in the state's budget. "I'd buy some more cows," Babson responded. Later, he revised his answer saying he'd either give it back to taxpayers or have the state use it to help small businesses.

- State Rep. Wiley passionately disagreed with the Republicans' claim that the governor increased the budget by 17 to 24 percent. In reality, she said it got bigger because the state accepted Federal money, which it needs. Without the federal money spending would increase seven percent over two years, said Wiley, who called the budget "bare bones on osteoporosis."

- In response to Wiley, Rep. Mark McConkey (R-Freedom) said he voted against the governor's budget. "If barebones is what we're doing, we're sadly mistaken," said McConkey. "We balanced on hopes and dreams. We said we were going to sell $60 million of assets and there is no $60 million to be found. You can't make budgets work by saying you are going to do something."

- Republican house candidate Harry Merrow said the governor balanced the budget on paper by borrowing from various places such as $25 million from the University of New Hampshire, another half million dollars from New Hampshire Fish and Game. They will have to pay that money back, and that's where the deficit comes from.

Martin Lord Osman
Littleton Chmber
Varney Smith
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