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Veterans at NHVH thoughtfully considering their votes



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Paul LaMorr, a 30-year member of the NH Legislature, greeted his long time friend Executive Councilor Ray Burton as he arrived for a candidate forum at the New Hampshire Veteranís Home last week. Donna Rhodes. (click for larger version)
October 27, 2010
TILTON — A host of political hopefuls made their way to the New Hampshire Veterans Home in Tilton last Wednesday to familiarize the residents with their positions and hear concerns from them as well.

Many of the veterans said they were still open to hearing what candidates had to say before making their final decisions. Topics like veteran's benefits, healthcare and the state of the economy weigh on their minds, most said.

At the candidate forum last week was a once familiar face in Concord, that of Paul LaMorr, a current resident at NHVH. LaMorr is a WWII Veteran and a former 30-year member of the State Legislature from the town of Haverhill. He regretfully had to skip most of the forum because his hearing aid was malfunctioning, but said he would be reading up on the many pamphlets and flyers the candidates brought along to prepare for his vote.

LaMorr said his experience in Concord taught him a dollar should be spent "for today" and long range programs need to come to the legislature containing ways to find future dollars to support them.

"I learned if you spend a dollar, spend it on 'now.' If you are going to go on with something, you need to have another dollar coming down the line," said LaMorr.

He felt New Hampshire made the mistake of using ARRA funds to help balance the budget this year instead of reducing expenditures but LaMorr was nonetheless hopeful for the future of the state.

"New Hampshire's budget is in better shape than the national budget," he said.

LaMorr also praised lawmakers who approved geothermal energy to heat NHVH, saying that type of forward thinking was important as it was a sustainable and efficient source of energy.

Elaine Baker from Gilford, a Korean War Navy veteran, was paying close attention to Charlie Bass, Kelley Ayotte and all of the candidates who have been stopping by NHVH to meet the residents in the days leading up to the election.

"I think the whole country is looking for a change," Baker said. "They're tired of big government and big spending."

She acknowledged that change would not come overnight but this election could prove to be the start. Baker said that, as an undeclared voter, she was amazed at how well the Tea Party was doing and people should realize it isn't made up of all "right wing conservatives" but also has Democrats and Independents in its ranks. She is following veterans' issues and said she was disappointed that candidate's positions are being misrepresented in campaign ads.

"I saw the ad about Bass (in his previous Congressional term) cutting veteran's benefits and last night I heard an interview with him, saying that was a false misrepresentation. There's lots of rumors out there. People say whatever it takes to get elected," she said.

Baker also said people would benefit if they re-thought how to handle government spending.

"They should run the government like you run a household budget," she said.

Former Rochester resident Roland Guay said he has always had an interest in politics and has never missed an election in 67 years, casting his first vote for FDR at the age of 21. Guay was brought into the political world in larger terms when he was called upon to be an interpreter between General Dwight Eisenhower and General Charles DeGaulle in London during WWII. The two men were discussing France's participation in the invasion and Guay, whose father hailed from Canada and his mother from Paris, helped the two communicate during their meeting.

"Boy, I was nervous. They were both generals and here I sat, a buck sergeant, in between the two and later on they both went on to become presidents. That was something," Guay said.

DeGaulle did not forget Guay, either. When visiting Canada after the war the French general called to invite Guay to join him, knowing he spoke both French and English.

"My wife wasn't into politics though and I had a family to raise so I said no," he said.

Tom Skivington said he's made it a point to meet with many of the candidates who have stopped at NHVH, including Bass and Ayotte and Senator Jeanne Shaheen. He said he has followed Bass for many years and hopes to see him regain a seat in Congress. He said Ayotte impressed him as well on her visit. Despite having met some of the candidates, Skivington said he was keeping an open mind and preferred to listen more before making his decisions.

"I'm a Democrat, but prefer to be considered an Independent," he said.

One week before balloting at NHVH, "open minded" was how Evangeline Tappin and Arthur Foley each categorized their stand, too. Tappin, a WWII Army nurse, said she needed to begin paying a bit more attention before she cast her vote and Foley said he was also still mulling over his final decisions.

"It (the election) came up quick on me. We're in a bad economy and so I guess anybody who can get us out of that, well, I'm all for them," said Foley.

More than 20 candidates participating in the forum each made a brief statement then fielded questions from the audience, made up of veterans, NHVH staff members and the general public. Representatives from Hodes', Ayotte's and Bass's campaigns spoke, along with candidates for governor, Executive Council in Districts 1 and 2 and State Senate and House of Representative hopefuls for Belknap and Merrimack counties.

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