NH Senate race sees healthy competition between paramedic, doctor

  • John McIntyre (Courtesy photograph)

  • Sue Prentiss (Courtesy photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/2/2022 2:46:09 AM
Modified: 11/2/2022 2:45:50 AM

LEBANON — Energy costs, education and public health are among the top issues identified by New Hampshire Senate candidates in District 5, where state Sen. Sue Prentiss, D-Lebanon, will face Republican challenger John McIntyre, a neuroradiologist from Hanover, in the upcoming New Hampshire general election.

Prentiss, a career paramedic and former Lebanon mayor, is seeking her second term in the state Senate. Elected in 2020, Prentiss touts her experience in health care and government, at both the state and local level, in providing her an extensive knowledge of the legislative process and “how state legislation impacts local communities and the pressures on local property taxpayers.”

“Perhaps most importantly, my years of being a paramedic dealing with emergency medical situations have made me a skilled problem-solver,” Prentiss told the Valley News. “I move quickly to identify problems, identify a solution and work with everyone to get the job done.”

McIntyre, a doctor and business owner who provides radiology services for Dartmouth Health, is running in his first state election. He has not previously held public office.

McIntyre credits his background in medicine for shaping his qualities as a “practical” person, “an excellent listener (who) can make a connection with everyone” and “a tireless work ethic.”

“I believe that we have more in common than we don’t,” McIntyre told the Valley News. “I bring a reasoned, respectful, empathetic and common-sense perspective to the pressing issues that affect our lives.”

Senate District 5, which was redistricted earlier this year using 2020 Census data, represents 15 municipalities: Canaan, Cornish, Dorchester, Enfield, Grantham, Groton, Hanover, Lebanon, Lyme, New London, Orford, Plainfield, Plymouth, Springfield and Wentworth.

While both candidates share similar concerns about issues such as health care and cost burdens on local taxpayers, they often differ greatly in respect to policy.

On the issue of energy costs, Prentiss advocates for expanding the state’s renewable energy portfolio, including through expanding opportunities for net metering solar projects.

“Our electricity grid as a whole can benefit from the influx of low- to no-cost solar energy onto the grid, (which) would translate into opportunities for the sale of lower-cost energy,” she said.

Prentiss also expressed support for directing state energy regulators to adopt more flexible policies for purchasing power, including the ability to select from a greater diversity of sources.

McIntyre, though receptive to some sources of renewable energy, said he would not support renewable energy mandates that may “cause additional harm to ratepayers.”

“Solar is not very effective in the Northeast in general for baseload, and our neighbors have come to the same conclusion,” McIntyre said. “Wind (power) is only effective on the ridgelines in New Hampshire and is not palatable to our citizenry.”

McIntyre said the state needs to look at long-term alternatives to replace its “antiquated” transmission system, given New Hampshire’s current reliance on importing its central fuels like coal and natural gas.

“We need to look at importing power from Hydro Quebec, a source of clean renewable hydro power, increasing importation of cheaper natural gas as a bridge to more renewable resources and explore a second Seabrook Nuclear Reactor or smaller-scale modular nuclear (plant) for the future,” McIntyre said.

On education, Prentiss criticized Education Freedom Accounts, the state school voucher program that gives state money — approximately $4,800 per student — to eligible low- and moderate-income families to fund costs of a nonpublic school education, such as a private school or a home schooling option.

“Without resolution to the long-standing school funding issue, for all New Hampshire children, we are not in a position to move public funding to private and religious schools,” Prentiss said.

Prentiss referred to the ongoing conflict in New Hampshire over state-level funding of public schools. Over 70% of New Hampshire’s funding for public education, approximately $2.3 billion per year, is raised from local property taxes, which poses a disadvantage to property-poor communities to fund their schools, according to advocates for a more equitable approach to funding public education in New Hampshire.

Diverting money to school vouchers “further strains the school systems left behind when state dollars flow out of local school systems rather than in,” Prentiss said. “Considering the costs now to local taxpayers, this is not the direction to move in.”

McIntyre said he supports Education Freedom Accounts, noting that families make differing education choices for their children and that the school voucher system allows families with limited incomes to have more educational options.

McIntyre also said that he supports temporary grants to public schools whose state-funding was reduced to fund students who received vouchers.

On reproductive rights, Prentiss expressed concern about the 2022 New Hampshire abortion bill, which bans abortions after 24 weeks’s gestation unless the life or health of the patient is at risk or in the event of a fatal fetal abnormality.

“The 24-week ban was not necessary,” Prentiss said. “According to the CDC, less than 1% of abortions take place after 21 weeks and takes place when a family learns (new) information about the pregnancy, such as a fetal fatal anomaly.”

Prentiss believes that pregnancy decisions are highly complicated and personal matters, and not the place of state or federal legislators to interfere.

Prentiss also worries that a Republican-led Legislature next term will attempt to further restrict abortion access, now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade and restored autonomy to the states to decide their own abortion laws.

McIntyre pledged that he “would vote against any changes to the current (New Hampshire abortion) law.”

“Education, prevention of unwanted pregnancy and technological advances in birth control are, and will continue to be, very helpful (in reducing the number of abortions),” McIntyre added.

Patrick Adrian may be reached at 603-727-3216 or at padrian@vnews.com.

CORRECTION: John McIntyre, Republican candidate for New Hampshire’s Senate District 5, would not support any changes to the state’s current abortion law, which bans abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy with certain exceptions. An earlier version of this story was unclear about McIntyre’s support for the law.

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