Grafton County Appoints New Commissioner

State Reps. Sue Ford, of Easton, left, and Linda Lauer, of Bath, talk before attending an orientation seminar at the legislature in Concord on Nov. 28, 2012. (Valley News  James M. Patterson)

State Reps. Sue Ford, of Easton, left, and Linda Lauer, of Bath, talk before attending an orientation seminar at the legislature in Concord on Nov. 28, 2012. (Valley News James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

North Haverhill — Filling the seat left vacant by the death of Ray Burton, state Rep. Linda Lauer, D-Bath, was appointed Grafton County commissioner Monday in a 17-4 county delegation ballot vote.

“I’m grateful and humbled by the vote, am looking forward to the challenge and am hoping I can accomplish one-tenth of what Ray Burton did,” Lauer said Monday afternoon.

The commissioner appointment, which, per state law, requires her to resign her Statehouse seat, representing a House District 15 in Grafton County that includes the towns of Haverhill, Orford and Piermont.

Her county commission appointment will run through Jan. 6, 2015, and be up for grabs in the 2014 general election.

Lauer will represent commission District 2, which serves the towns of Bath, Benton, Bethlehem, Easton, Franconia, Haverhill, Landaff, Lincoln, Lisbon, Littleton, Lyman, Lyme, Monroe, Orford, Piermont, Sugar Hill, Thornton, Waterville Valley and Woodstock.

Burton, the longest-serving executive councilor on New Hampshire history, also served as a county commissioner for more than 20 years. After his death Nov. 12, the county delegation announced it would seek to fill the seat.

Lauer initially intended to keep her Statehouse seat, to which she was elected in 2012, if she was appointed a county commissioner.

But in addition to the state law, there would have been a conflict of interest, said Lauer, who after Monday’s vote sent an email to House Speaker Terie Norelli and the House clerk asking them to accept her immediate resignation.

“I think I picked the position where I can do the most good for the most people,” said Lauer. “I was proud to be a member of the House of Representatives, but the reality is I can’t do both and I really feel county government is the government that can most directly affect the local residents.”

A veteran of the Navy, Lauer was among the first female officers to serve on the faculty of the U.S. Naval Academy. After the Navy, she joined Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control Systems in Orlando, where she directed aerospace research and development projects and managed the plant’s materials evaluation laboratories.

In 2006, she retired to Bath, where she currently serves as the town’s emergency management director and is a member of its conservation commission.

The county commission is responsible for the operation of the county government as it relates to both fiscal and policy matters.

Among commissioner-made policies are the employment of county personnel, administration of county services, maintenance of facilities and equipment and expending funds to finance all operations within the budget adopted by the county delegation.

In addition to Lauer, 11 other candidates submitted letters of interest and resumes for the commissioner post before the Dec. 13 deadline.

They included 2012 state representative candidate Denis Ward, of Monroe; former North Country Council Executive Director Michael King, of North Haverhill; and former Bethlehem Planning Board Chairman Don Lavoie, of Bethlehem.

Filing, too, were 1994 state representative candidate Steven Connolly, of Bethlehem; Peter Glenshaw, of Lyme; former Belknap County Commissioner Richard Long, of Bath; Stephen Whitney, of Bath; Jeffrey Stiegler, of North Haverhill; Michael Gonthier, of Woodsville; Paul Anderson, of Piermont; and Mark Secord, of Lisbon.

Lauer and Long were subsequently nominated by the county executive committee as the final candidates.

“As members of the executive committee, we felt we put forward the two people who could do that job the best,” said state Rep. Andrew White, D-Lebanon, who chairs the Grafton County delegation.

Before Monday’s delegation vote, each of the two candidates gave a 10-minute pitch. Lauer’s name was submitted by state Rep. Edmond Gionet, R-Lincoln.