Special election set for Enfield House seat left empty after DHMC attack on lawmaker

By LIZ SAUCHELLI

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 07-20-2023 11:29 PM

ENFIELD — Two candidates are vying to represent Enfield in the New Hampshire House of Representatives in a special election scheduled to be held Tuesday, Aug. 22.

David Fracht, a Democrat, and John P. Keane, a Republican, are competing to fill the vacancy left by Joshua Adjutant, who resigned in the spring after suffering injuries from a patient receiving psychiatric care at his job as a security guard at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

The winning candidate will represent Grafton County District 16, a single town district. Prior to resigning, Adjutant served in the House since 2018. He did not face a Republican challenger when he was re-elected in 2022.

Fracht moved to Enfield in 2009 from Fairlee, where he served on the town’s Development Review Board for 15 years.

Fracht currently serves as chair of Enfield’s Planning Board. He owns a large-format custom printing business and currently works part-time in consulting and providing printing services from his Enfield home.

“I definitely have an interest in land use, in preserving our natural assets, while allowing or even encouraging responsible and controlled growth,” said Fracht. “There’s a housing shortage in the Upper Valley and New England and the whole country, and one of my goals would be to figure out how to encourage more affordable housing without destroying the natural resources and rural character that exists in many New Hampshire towns, including Enfield.”

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During his roughly five years on the Planning Board, Fracht has been involved in updating Enfield’s zoning ordinances to permit higher-density housing in the town’s village area, as well as working on the town’s master plan. He said he had not considered running for office until he was approached by Enfield and Mascoma Democrats.

“After doing a lot of research and soul searching and having a lot of people tell me they thought I would be good as a state rep, I decided I would try, so I’m in,” Fracht said.

Keane, who said his family has lived in the Lebanon area for close to 100 years, wrote in an email that his love of the area inspired him to run for office.

“In recent years I’ve become very concerned about our taxes, we have a 17% increase coming this year and with inflation and cost of living so high I would like to be a voice for Enfield and New Hampshire,” Keane wrote.

“I’ve been a small business owner and understand the struggle to make ends meet.”

The patient involved in Adjutant’s case, Felix Onkundi Nyabuto, was charged with three counts of simple assault and second-degree assault, strangulation. A voicemail left for Margaret Kettles, Nyabuto’s public defender, was not returned by deadline.

According to an affidavit, Nyabuto struck Adjutant in the head, causing injuries.

Last month on June 21, following a court hearing held to inform the court on the status of plea negotiations, the court issued a dispositional order reporting that the defense responded “no” to prosecutors’ offer for a plea agreement, according to court records.

A final pre-trial conference has been scheduled for October 18.

Adjutant declined to comment on his recovery when reached by email earlier this week.

Editor’s note: Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesda y, Aug. 22, at the Enfield Community Building, located at 308 Route 4.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.