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6 candidates vying for 3 Grafton House district seats

  • Wes Chapmon (Courtesy photogrpah)

  • Denny Ruprecht (Courtesy photograph)

  • David Binford (Courtesy photograph)

  • Ed Rajsteter (Courtesy photograph)

  • Rick Ladd. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/27/2020 9:46:58 PM
Modified: 10/27/2020 9:46:55 PM

HAVERHILL — Voters in Haverhill, Orford and Piermont are deciding three contested races for the New Hampshire House.

Six people — including two incumbents — are running for seats that represent northern portions of the Upper Valley and stretches into the North Country.

Grafton 3

The two candidates competing to represent the Grafton 3 House district disagree on New Hampshire’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and how much leeway government should have when responding to crises.

Bath Republican Wes Chapmon said he’s running for the House seat because state government is “infringing on people’s natural rights” and moving toward a “socialist totalitarian system.”

Chapmon on his website argues against coronavirus restrictions, such as Gov. Chris Sununu’s March stay-at-home order, saying “free people don’t need permission” to do things such as leave their house, open business or go to church.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Denny Ruprecht, D-Landaff, says Sununu — a Republican — has done a “good job” containing the virus while safely reopening schools and businesses.

“I understand that my opponent and a contingency (of people) would like to see just life as normal, but I just don’t think that we can do that,” he said. “Really, this is just a matter of keeping people safe and managing the pandemic so that we can get back to normal.”

Ruprecht, a 21-year-old student at Plymouth State University, is ending his first term representing the neighboring Grafton 15 House seat.

The Grafton 3 seat is currently held by outgoing Rep. Sue Ford, D-Easton, who is running for state Senate. The floterial district covers the towns of Orford, Piermont, Bath, Benton, Easton, Landaff and Warren.

A Woodsville High School graduate, Ruprecht is seen as one of the Democratic Party’s “rising stars,” having been an early supporter of Vice President Joe Biden and given a speaking role at the Democratic National Convention in August.

The pandemic played a large role in his decision to seek another term.

“I realized that this was not an appropriate time to step away and it is important to have continuity, somebody who’d been around a little bit and understood the Statehouse,” Ruprecht said in a phone interview.

Chapmon, who works in municipal finance, says he’s also focused on the pandemic’s economic fallout. The shutdown of businesses could lead to budget shortfalls upwards of $200 million, he pointed out.

“We can’t tax our way out of mismanagement and bad policy,” Chapmon, 54, wrote in an email. “People will prosper and rebuild a thriving economy if unburdened by the state. This will in turn restore revenue to support state government.”

Grafton 15

The race for Grafton 15 will see former state Rep. David Binford, R-Bath, face off against North Haverhill Democrat Ed Rajsteter.

The district covers eight towns — Haverhill, Orford, Piermont, Bath, Benton, Easton and Warren.

Binford, an Air Force and Army veteran, said he’s running to improve the North Country’s infrastructure, such as roads and broadband internet access.

He also pledged to fight to “reestablish” the biomass industry after attempts to prop up New Hampshire’s wood-burning power plants failed.

On his website, Binford, 51, describes himself as a conservative who supports gun rights,anti-union “right-to-work” legislation and tax credits for families that send their children to private schools.

Binford was also among three people who took New Hampshire to court earlier this year, challenging its limit on gatherings of more than 50 people. A Merrimack Superior Court judge sided with the state, saying the governor has broad powers to protect public safety.

Rajsteter, who founded and is past president of the Friends of New Hampshire Drug Courts, said he’s campaigning to better fund public schools, lower prescription costs and stabilize funding for the Grafton County Meals on Wheels program.

He added that combating the opioid epidemic also remains a focus

Rajsteter in 2009 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. 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, 77, also served on the board of Lebanon-based Headrest, a nonprofit that provides substance abuse services. He was executive director of the organization after Mike Cryans retired in 2014.

Grafton 4

State Rep. Rick Ladd, R-Haverhill, is facing a challenge from Democrat Don Locascio as he runs for an eighth term representing Haverhill in the House.

Ladd, a retired high school principal, said he’s running to usher possible changes in the state education funding formula through the Statehouse.

The ranking member of the House Education Committee, Ladd also sits on New Hampshire’s Commission to Study School Funding.

“It’s my aspiration that we can correct some of the inequities and disparities in our education funding for all communities throughout the state,” he said.

Ladd was instrumental in recent years in ending a 10-year moratorium on building aid and reversal of education spending cuts. He said he would work to continue those efforts in Concord.

Messages and emails left for Locascio, an attorney with offices in Lebanon, over several days were not returned.

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




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