Woodstock Police Officer Tries Again for U.S. House Seat

Mark Donka

Mark Donka

Hartford — An Upper Valley police officer and former selectman in Hartford is launching his second bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt.

Republican Mark Donka, 57, said Thursday he is concerned about spending in Washington and also wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“ The main issues are our country is going in the wrong direction. We are getting further and further into debt, with no end in sight,” Donka said in a phone interview. “I (also) believe Obamacare is a train wreck. I don’t believe it’s going to work out as much as we are seeing in the press.”

Donka, a New Jersey native who has lived in Vermont for 36 years, worked for 18 years for the Hartford Police Department, where he retired as a sergeant, and now works as a patrol officer in Woodstock. He was the GOP nominee against Welch, but garnered only 23.2 percent of the vote in 2012.

Donka is holding a fundraiser May 18 in Burlington for his campaign, with the prime attraction being David Webb, a broadcasting personality who is a spokesman for the National Tea Party Federation. Donka said he agrees with the Tea Party on “an awful lot of issues” and feels that more Vermonters will respond to his message this time.

“It seems like they are looking for people who are pro-Constitution. The government is getting too big, and they want to know when it’s going to stop,” said Donka. He also said President Obama campaigned on covering 41 million uninsured Americans, “and they are jumping up and down about 8 million signed up. It doesn’t seem like very good percentages.”

Welch, a Norwich resident now in his fourth term, stands behind the Affordable Care Act but is open to changes to “fix practical implementation challenges,” according to a spokesman.

“Congressman Welch supports the Affordable Care Act because over 8 million Americans are now receiving affordable health care coverage through the health exchanges. Millions more with pre-existing illnesses will never again be told by an insurance company they are not eligible for health insurance, seniors are receiving preventive care and more affordable prescriptions, and young adults just out of college can stay on their parents’ health plan,” said Welch spokesman Ryan Nickel.

Donald Russell, a retired Army veteran from Shelburne, Vt., has also indicated he will run in the GOP primary.