Cryans, Warmington square off in Democratic primary for NH Executive Council

  • Michael Cryans (Courtesy photograph)

  • Cinde Warmington (Courtesy photograph)

The Keene Sentinel
Published: 9/2/2022 11:05:18 PM
Modified: 9/2/2022 11:01:40 PM

Cinde Warmington, whose New Hampshire Executive Council District 2 takes in all of the Upper Valley, has been the lone Democrat on the five-person panel over the last two years.

The Concord health care attorney says she hopes to be joined by other Democrats after the Nov. 8 general election, but first she’ll have to beat back a Sept. 13 primary challenge from former Executive Councilor Michael Cryans.

A third listed candidate in the primary, Bradford Todd, of Keene, does not have a campaign finance report on file and did not return calls for comment.

In a unique system, the council shares executive authority with the governor. It approves receipt and expenditure of state and federal funds, confirms the appointment of judges and commissioners and hears pardon requests. Each councilor represents one-fifth of the state’s population or approximately 263,000 citizens.

Last month, the council rejected for the fourth time in a year more than a million dollars in funding for organizations that provide people of low income with cancer screenings, contraceptives, treatment and testing for sexually transmitted diseases and abortion care.

Warmington, 64, who is seeking her second term, was the only councilor to vote in favor of the state contracts for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, which has an office in Keene, and two other providers.

The other councilors voiced concerns that this money could be used for abortion services, but the providers said, and a state audit confirmed, that such funding is kept separate and not used for that purpose.

Republican councilors David Wheeler, a Milford resident who represents Peterborough and many other area towns, along with Theodore Gatsas of Manchester, Janet Stevens of Rye and Joseph Kenney of Union will all face Democratic challenges in the fall.

“This council has defunded Planned Parenthood,” Warmington said in an interview this week. “We need people on the Executive Council who will defend and protect access to reproductive health care.

“Also, this council again put politics above public health when it voted to reject $27 million in vaccine funding. I was a minority of one in opposition.”

She was referring to an Oct. 13 council meeting in which the panel turned down federal funds for boosting the COVID-19 vaccination effort at a time when the pediatric vaccine was being released and booster shots were being made available to older people.

Warmington said the Republican councilors began to feel political heat for their decision.

“The backlash from the public was really significant,” she said. “There were a lot of people who wanted to have their kids vaccinated before Thanksgiving but were unable to do so because of delays in rolling out the pediatric vaccines.

“Also, the elderly needed their booster shots. Then we had a spike in the delta variant of COVID-19.”

On Nov. 10, the Executive Council reversed itself and accepted the federal money.

Cryans, of Hanover, who spent 19 years as a Grafton County commissioner, said he doesn’t differ from Warmington on the positions she has taken, but feels his approach to constituent services sets him apart. He served as the District 1 representative on the council in 2019 and 2020 before being defeated by Kenney. Hanover is now in District 2 as the result of redistricting.

During his time on the council, Cryans spoke to a constituent who was having trouble getting unemployment benefits.

“You can feel the angst of someone not getting benefits, someone who didn’t have a lot of money before losing her job and now she has nothing coming in,” he said. “I was able to help her with the guidance of N.H. Employment Security.”

Later, she called him back to say she received an unemployment compensation check.

“I could just feel the weight that had been lifted off her,” Cryans said.

Cryans, 71, now retired, has worked as a teacher, a banker and a leader of a nonprofit to help people with substance abuse disorder.

He said his biggest vote on the Executive Council came in 2019 when the panel, then controlled by Democrats, rejected, 3-2, Gov. Chris Sununu’s appointment of then-Attorney General Gordon MacDonald as chief justice of the N.H. Supreme Court.

Critics had questioned MacDonald’s lack of experience as a judge and his involvement in conservative politics.

Last year, with a Republican majority in place on the Executive Council, Sununu nominated MacDonald again and he was confirmed.

On a different issue, Cryans said he supports public education and feels the school voucher movement, devoting public money to help students attend private schools, dilutes resources available for traditional public education.

He also rejects the notion that excess federal spending during the COVID-19 pandemic is the main driver of inflation.

“A lot of that spending had to take place, or we would have been in dire straits economically without it,” Cryans said.

But he acknowledged that many people are hurting in this economy, with key problems including a lack of affordable housing and high energy costs.

“I see people literally putting something back on the shelf in the supermarket or cashiers having to put items to the side,” he said. “A lot of people are living paycheck to paycheck.”

For her part, Warmington said her approach to constituent service is to not only help the person with a problem but to see if there is a larger systemic issue that is affecting a greater number of people.

She said, as an example, somebody reached out to her and reported difficulty getting a physical therapy license.

“Not only did I intervene on behalf of that one person, but I dug deeper and it turned out there was a systemic problem, a backlog of people waiting for licenses and this was slowing us down in getting health workers,” Warmington said.

She said she was able to hold the relevant state officials accountable in order to address the problem.

Like Cryans, Warmington said confirming appointments is a big part of the role of an executive councilor.

She has issues with Frank Edelblut, who was confirmed last year to a second term as the state education commissioner. Edelblut supports the school voucher movement and has warned teachers not to let their biases seep into their classroom instruction.

Warmington said Edelblut “is intentionally undermining public schools.”

Warmington’s latest campaign finance report shows $362,244 in receipts and $117,057 in expenditures, while Cryans has $63,249 in receipts and $29,304 in expenditures.

The winner of this primary will take on the winner of the Republican primary, which features N.H. Sen. Harold French of Franklin against Kim Strathdee of Lincoln.

These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit

Sign up for our free email updates
Valley News Daily Headlines
Valley News Contests and Promotions
Valley News Extra Time
Valley News Breaking News

Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784


© 2021 Valley News
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy