Seat up for grabs in Orford area

  • Ed Rajsteter

  • Denny Ruprecht

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 4/27/2020 8:52:02 PM
Modified: 4/27/2020 8:51:59 PM

NORTH HAVERHILL — The founder of a nonprofit that supports New Hampshire’s drug courts is entering politics, seeking a Grafton County House seat now held by one of the state’s youngest lawmakers.

Ed Rajsteter, who founded and is past president of the Friends of New Hampshire Drug Courts, hopes to combat the opioid epidemic from the Statehouse. Rajsteter, a Democrat from North Haverhill, last week announced his candidacy to succeed Rep. Dennis Ruprecht, D-Landaff.

Ruprecht, 20, a first-term legislator who is finishing up studies at Plymouth State University, isn’t seeking reelection and instead plans to attend law school after graduating next May.

“I’m grateful of the people of my district for supporting me and I’ll be always grateful for the experience,” he said in a phone interview. “But it’s time to move in for now.”

The Grafton 15 district covers eight towns — Haverhill, Orford, Piermont, Bath, Benton, Easton and Warren. It is considered a swing seat, with control passing between Republicans and Democrats several times over the past decade.

Rajsteter, 77, said he became involved in volunteer efforts after retiring from the banking sector and moving from New Jersey to the Upper Valley in 2006.

In 2009, he helped form the Friends of Grafton County Drug Court, which raised more than $50,000 in six years to support programs being developed at the North Haverhill courthouse. That group offered incentives — such as gasoline gift cards and gym memberships — to drug court participants who met certain milestones or goals.

“They provided those things to the participants so that the county taxpayers didn’t have to pay for these rewards,” Linda Lauer, chairwoman of the Grafton County Commission, said Monday.

The nonprofit also created a loan program for participants, helping cover expenses such as new car tires.

Those efforts were so successful that the group ultimately went statewide in 2015 and now provides support to drug courts in Belknap, Strafford, Hillsborough and Cheshire counties.

Rajsteter also served on the board of Lebanon-based Headrest, a nonprofit that provides substance abuse services. He was executive director of the organization for a short time after Mike Cryans retired in 2014.

If elected, Rajsteter said he will continue to focus on the opioid epidemic, working with organizations to secure funding and help Granite Staters. He also hopes to find ways to reduce prescription drug costs and better fund New Hampshire’s education system in a more equitable way.

Lauer, a Democrat who held the Grafton 15 seat from 2012 to 2014, said Rajsteter’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and long history of volunteerism would make him a good fit for the Legislature.

“He’s always been active on a volunteer basis and I have to admire somebody that does that,” she said.

Ruprecht also said Rajsteter “fits the district well.”

“A lot of people know him, which is always important in these sparsely populated, big districts,” he said, adding Rajsteter has the “time and drive” to do the job well.

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




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