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Two Republicans Seek District 8 Senate Seat

  • Jim Beard is a Republican candidate for the Senate District 8 seat. (Courtesy photograph)

  • Ruth Ward is a candidate in Republican primary for Senate 8 seat. (Courtesy photograph)

  • John Garvey, a New London attorney and UNH professor, has announced his run for the NH Senate District 8 seat. Garvey was at his home in New London, N.H., on April 20, 2016. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 9/1/2016 12:44:20 AM
Modified: 9/1/2016 12:52:23 AM

Newport — The two Republicans seeking the nomination for the Newport-area seat in the New Hampshire Senate share similar, if not identical, conservative views on a number of issues that voters will be hearing about in the weeks before the general election.

James Beard, 64, of Lempster, and Ruth Ward, 79, of Stoddard, are both making their first run for the state Senate after being active in their local government for several years.

The winner of the Sept. 13 primary will face New London Democrat John Garvey for the District 8 Senate seat that has been vacant since first-term Sen. Jerry Little, R-Weare, was nominated by Gov. Maggie Hassan and then approved by the Executive Council this spring to become the new state banking commissioner.

The district stretches from Grantham to Weare and includes the Upper Valley towns of New London, Newport, Croydon, Sunapee, Grantham, Springfield, Sutton and Unity.

Both candidates are retired.  Beard was born in Keene and grew up in Newport before the family moved to Swanzey, N.H., in the early 1960s. A pilot, Beard had a career in the aviation field including aircraft sales and marketing. He came back to the area in 2003. Locally, he is chairman of the library trustees and chairman of the conservation commission.

Beard believes his skills and success in sales negotiations will make him an effective legislator because it involves getting consensus.

“I will bring those skills hopefully to the Statehouse,” Beard said. “I think it is important the discourse be improved in our Legislature. We need to work with both sides to find solutions and the only way to do that is with good discourse.”

Ward has lived in Stoddard since she retired from health care in 1995.  She serves on the town planning board, was on the zoning board and on the state level is Land Steward for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests and on the New Hampshire Rivers Management Advisory Council and the Board of Advisors of the Appalachian Mountain Club. 

“I have spoken to people and have read a lot and I have come to realize a lot of people are upset,” Ward said. “So I thought I would see what I could do to help people and expand my vision to a larger area. I was a nurse, so I know how to listen and can work with people to do what needs to be done.”

Both candidates oppose new taxes for New Hampshire, including sales or income taxes, and believe less regulation is needed to attract more business, which in turn will increase revenue.

On the question of school choice, they back Croydon’s fight with the state over sending students to private school using tax dollars.

“I’m totally for school choice and giving vouchers to parents,” Ward said, though she does not favor including religious schools in the choice equation. “I read the judge’s decision in Croydon (denying the school district the right to send four students to the Montessori school in Newport) and it does not make sense. It is $4,000 less than the public school and they are saying, ‘no we won’t pay.’ ”

Ward said leaving parents with no choice but public schools is wrong.

“We have choice in other areas, why not education,” she asked.

Beard goes a step further.

“I strongly believe in parents choosing where their children are educated,” Beard said. “I support Croydon and favor choice across the board (including religious schools). I feel with more competition it will filter back to the public schools and improve them.”

If he wins the primary and then the general election, Beard wants to bring to Concord a greater focus on technical education at the high school level.

“I have a passion for education. We are not providing the technical training we did in the past and that is a huge mistake. Not everyone needs to go to college. We are not providing the skill set students need for gainful employment.”

For Ward, the problem is more related to the loss of control in the local communities.

“We need to get back to local control where the teachers, local board and parents make the decisions,” Ward said.

Ward believes the federal government offers assistance and the states, in need of money, take it, but it often comes with mandates.

“It is a big overreach by the federal government,” she said.

Beard said he would have opposed Medicaid expansion that was approved in the last legislative session.

“I’m not in favor of it because of the cost,” he said, promising to work with lawmakers to develop a less costly but equally effective system of health care for the poor. “Once you are hooked on it, you can’t get out of it.”

Ward thinks the program needs tighter controls so that only those who truly need the care get it.

“There will always be people who need the help but others are using the system so we need to be judicious.”

Both candidates support state funding for Planned Parenthood but not if it goes for abortion services and neither believe the state needs more gun control measures.

Beard also said he wants to focus on the state’s energy needs and energy production to help lower the costs, which he said are the second highest in the nation.

Garvey, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary, is an attorney, mediator and professor at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. A Navy veteran, he has lived in New Hampshire since 1981 and was one of the original lawyers in the Claremont lawsuit involving state funding for education.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached



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