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Mascoma-area seats coveted by parties

  • Timothy Josephson (Courtesy photograph)

  • Joshua Adjutant (Courtesy photograph)

  • Kendall B. Hughes (Courtesy photograph)

  • Francesca Diggs (Courtesy photograph)

  • Jeffrey Greeson (Courtesy photograph)

  • Lex Berezhny (Courtesy photograph)

  • Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban (Courtesy photograph)

  • Ned Gordon (Courtesy photograph)

  • Catherine Mulholland. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/19/2020 11:19:20 PM
Modified: 10/19/2020 11:19:17 PM

ENFIELD — Voters in the Mascoma Valley’s five towns are deciding several contested races for the New Hampshire House.

Following a “blue wave” in 2018, Republicans are working to retake several seats stretching into the White Mountains that have traditionally been conservative strongholds. Meanwhile, Democrats hope to make gains and build on their majority in both Grafton County and at the Statehouse.

State Rep. Roger Dontonville, D-Enfield, is again running unopposed in Grafton 10, which represents Enfield.

Dontonville, a retired physical education teacher, is wrapping up his second term in the House.

Grafton 11

Rep. Timothy Josephson, D-Canaan, is defending his Grafton 11 seat against Wentworth Republican Beth Folsom. The seat represents Canaan, Dorchester and Wentworth.

Josephson, a manager at Lucky’s Coffee Garage in Lebanon and a member of the Mascoma Valley Regional School Board, said a third term in the House would allow him to continue fighting for better internet access.

He supported legislation making internet service providers provide accurate coverage maps and this year co-sponsored legislation that would have required E911 services to share broadband information with municipalities. Josephson, 42, also plans to focus on bills that would increase school funding for property-poor communities.

“This term we restored stabilization grants to districts like Mascoma and launched the most comprehensive study of educational funding in decades, but there’s so much more to do and I’m eager to work on it,” he said.

Folsom has a degree in social work and is a self-described “Bleeding Heart Conservative,” according to her campaign website.

Online, she promises to support gun rights, increase school choice options and do away with mandates and subsidies that harm business. Her campaign also supports expanding broadband and protecting “the lives of all of our citizens, including those still in the womb.”

Emails seeking comment from Folsom last week were not returned.

Grafton 17

First-term Rep. Joshua Adjutant, D-Bridgewater, is facing a challenge from Ashland Republican Kendall Hughes in a race to represent a floterial district covering Enfield, Grafton, Alexandria, Ashland, Bridgewater and Bristol.

Adjutant, a Marine Corps reservist and in-home assisted living aide, said he’s running to ensure that the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic “isn’t pushed down on to people that were already vulnerable prior to the crisis.”

“This depression has borne heavily on working-class people, and I want to ensure the recovery is fairer to those who were and are, now, living paycheck to paycheck,” he said.

Adjutant, 25, said he supported the 2019 budget deal that saw New Hampshire increase school funding by $140 million, adding that it brought much-needed relief to property taxpayers. His goal next year is to ensure that those gains aren’t lost under a possible budget deficit.

Hughes, a real estate agent and Ashland firefighter, said he hopes to “bring leadership back to the district.”

He said New Hampshire should “do better” providing better health care and reducing insurance burdens. Hughes, 52, also would oppose the Democrats’ paid family leave program — he said it would amount to an income tax — protect gun rights and work to improve broadband access, if elected.

“We need to bring in broadband, increase WiFi, make the infrastructure (that will entice) businesses to move to our area,” he said. “Both Enfield and Ashland have great industry buildings that could be repurposed to modern business.”

Grafton 16

The race for Grafton 16 will see first-term state Rep. Francesca Diggs, D-Rumney, face off against Wentworth Republican Jeffrey Greeson.

The floterial district represents Canaan, Dorchester, Ellsworth, Rumney, Orange, Thornton, Wentworth and Groton.

Diggs, a small business owner, said she’s running to continue work on legislation that was either vetoed by the governor or didn’t receive a vote because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those bills include the creation of a paid family leave program, increases to the minimum wage and expanding broadband access “in every corner of my district.”

Diggs, 57, also co-sponsored bills this year that sought to raise the minimum age for marriage from 16 to 18 years old, increase the fines for overtaking a school bus and create a state work and family task force.

Greeson, a church pastor and retired Navy meteorologist, says his main focus is restoring “normalcy to people’s lives.”

“Not a ‘new normal,’ but normal,” said Greeson, who now lectures on meteorology at Plymouth State University. “People must be able to go about their lives without fear, limitations, and uncertainty. People are hurting emotionally and spiritually right now.”

Greeson also opposes the creation of an income or sales tax, and called a proposed increase to the state’s $7.25 minimum wage “economy-killing.”

Grafton 9

Four people are vying for two seats representing Grafton 9, a floterial district that includes the towns of Grafton, Alexandria, Bristol, Ashland and Bridgewater.

Rep. Ned Gordon, R-Bristol, and Grafton Republican Lex Berezhny are facing off against Grafton Democrat Catherine Mulholland and Bridgewater Democrat Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban. The top two vote-getters will win seats in Concord.

State Rep. Vincent Paul Migliore, R-Bridgewater, represented the five-town district for two terms before he died during the Legislature’s recess in May, leaving an open seat. He was 69.

Berezhny, a software developer and volunteer firefighter, says his skills analyzing and solving difficult problems are well suited for the Statehouse.

Berezhny, 36, says he values “free-market solutions over government solutions” but promises to listen to constituents and read every bill before taking a vote. In the House, he hopes to learn what more New Hampshire could do to improve its response to future pandemics, better education and reduce the burdens of small business owners.

“As a legislator, I will listen to my constituents, try to understand the issues they bring to me, and the context around those issues and then work with other legislators to find solutions,” he said.

Fluehr-Lobban, a retired professor of anthropology and former director of general education at Rhode Island College, said she’s running to increase funding for public education and expand opportunities for after-school programs and vocational training.

Fluehr-Lobban, who at 75 still teaches online at the Naval War College, said she also hopes to strengthen environmental protections and improve diversity while serving in Concord.

Her campaign materials describe her as having the “uncommon sense” to advocate for better treatment options for those affected by the state’s opioid epidemic and expanded broadband.

Gordon, a former state senator and retired district court judge, says he wants to find ways to better protect personal privacy and individual rights during his second term, possibly by restricting government and social media access to people’s “private lives.”

Gordon, 72, also intends to push for greater protections for children and families entangled in the legal system. New Hampshire, he said, doesn’t provide enough support to minors or the roughly 80% of people who have no representation before a judge in family court.

“They may not understand the law, they may be intimidated by court proceedings and they may be disadvantaged when the other party is represented,” he said. “It’s time for the legal profession to recognize that non-attorney paraprofessionals can assist family court litigants to provide for better outcomes and justice.”

Mulholland, who previously served four terms in the House, said would like to increase the salary of state lawmakers to better encourage diversity at the Statehouse. New Hampshire legislators are paid $100 a year, which Mulholland says often leaves the job to be filled by older, retired people.

Young people are “few and far between and so the makeup of the House tends to be people who are more conservative,” Mulholland said, adding she hopes to see “less of a gray House or white-haired House.”

Mulholland, 80, said she also supports the creation of an income tax to help fund education and would like to see the gas tax rise to better pay for public infrastructure.

Grafton 6

In Grafton 6, state Rep. Kevin Maes, D-Rumney, is defending his seat against a challenge from Republican Gail Sanborn, who also hails from Rumney. The district represents the towns of Orange, Groton, Rumney, Ellsworth and Thornton.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.




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