Bourne, Drye face off for Sullivan District 7 House seat in NH

  • Jason Bourne (Courtesy photograph)

  • Margaret Drye (Courtesy photograph)

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 10/17/2022 9:25:37 PM
Modified: 10/17/2022 9:25:40 PM

Jason Bourne, a Cornish native making his first run for state office, will face Margaret Drye, a Plainfield Republican trying for the fourth time to win a seat in the New Hampshire House, in the race for the Sullivan District 7 House seat. The floterial district includes Charlestown, Cornish, Newport, Plainfield and Unity.

Bourne, 52, is the director of technology at Kimball Union Academy and has served 15 years on the Cornish Zoning Board. He defeated Newport Democrat Larry Flint by a wide margin in the Sept. 13 primary.

Drye, 64, ran unsuccessfully in a special election in 2017 and then again in 2018 and 2020.

She has served more than 40 years on the local rescue squad, served on the finance committee in town and currently serves on the water district board.

If sent to Concord, Bourne said he promises an effort to find compromise in the current politically polarized environment.

“One thing I have learned in my many years on the zoning board is that you must be open to listening to competing positions and making the decision that best fits our communities, our needs and our values,” Bourne said in an email.

Affordable housing and “common sense” gun laws, such as universal background checks, would be priorities if elected, Bourne said.

The candidates have distinctly different opinions on the future of abortion in the state, where Republicans in the last session passed a ban on the procedure after 24 weeks, with some exceptions.

Drye said she supports the new law, the Fetal Protection Act, “given the full-fledged fetal development and viability at six months.” But she stressed there is a wider issue that needs to be addressed with respect to further restrictions because banning something can harm people who feel they have no other option.

“Are we meeting the needs of those in crisis or emergency pregnancies such as housing, counseling and material needs?” asked Drye, who also wants to see the adoption process and collecting for child support made easier. “You can change the policy but you also have to change the culture. They go hand in hand.”

Drye, a co-founder in the 1980s of the Pregnancy Center of the Upper Valley, which has offices in Lebanon and Claremont, said the center’s goal is to address those needs.

“Every bill that is filed gets consideration, but we would be better served, now that we have changed a policy, to focus on working on building a culture that can help meet the needs of women that compel them to seek abortion in the first place,” Drye said. “That’s where the pregnancy centers come into play.”

Bourne said the government should not be involved in abortion decisions and the ban is something he would work to appeal.

“I don’t feel it is appropriate for legislators to be interfering in health care decisions,” Bourne said. “Having a ban in place ties the hands of medical professionals and I think that is inappropriate. It is bigger than the impact on one individual; it will affect the New Hampshire health care system as a whole and whether the state will have medical providers and OB-GYNs available.”

On K-12 education funding, Bourne said Education Freedom Accounts for private and religious school tuition and other education options, are diverting funds from the public system and he would like to see them eliminated.

“Public dollars should stay with public schools, not siphoned off to private schools,” Bourne said.

He said the state needs to commit to paying for education at the state level and levy taxes at a uniform rate across the state for education.

Drye believes the burden on local school districts could be lessened if the state paid for special education as it is often unpredictable from year to year and is one of largest expenses for school districts in addition to school infrastructure. The $100 million returned to school districts last session would provide a foundation for a state fund for special education, she added.

Regarding energy and the spike in prices ahead of winter, Bourne said the administration of Gov. Chris Sununu has not done enough to pursue renewable energy, which could ease the problem.

“The administration’s position that the free market will work for us has left us less diversified,” Bourne said, pointing to the rise in natural gas prices that in turn have driven up electric rates. “I think the state could be investing in more renewables to diversify our portfolio.”

Keeping the state’s economy strong with lower taxes has allowed the Legislature to provide relief to those facing high energy costs this winter with the recent passage of House Bill 2023, Emergency Energy Relief, Drye said,

“The immediate problem is so big we need to address it now and HB 2023 is a good first step,” Drye said.

Looking further ahead, Drye said renewables are an option but they must be efficient, reliable and affordable. “Anything we shut down or curtail has to be replaced with something that fits all three categories,” she said. “I’m all in favor of people developing new and cleaner ways to do things and I really think nuclear should be back on the table.”

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at

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