2 vie for Grantham House seat

  • Tanya McIntire (Courtesy photograph)

  • Brian Sullivan (Courtesy photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/31/2022 11:56:51 PM
Modified: 11/2/2022 2:44:47 AM

GRANTHAM — Two Grantham residents, state Rep. Brian Sullivan, a Democrat, and Republican candidate Tanya McIntire, will vie for a state House seat representing the Sullivan District 1, which contains only Grantham after redistricting earlier this year.

Sullivan, a Democrat, is a retired science teacher and teacher advocate, became a state legislator in November 2017, when he won a special election to fill the seat vacated by former state Rep. Andy Schmidt.

“In my professional life, I built a reputation for problem-solving and bringing people together,” Sullivan told the Valley News in a written statement. “I am proud of the times I have been able to work with Democrats and Republicans to resolve issues both in Concord and in Sullivan County.”

McIntire is a longtime volunteer with the UNH Extension in Sullivan County and a small business owner, who is working to open a food market in downtown Claremont. She has served on town zoning boards in Grantham and Newbury, N.H., her previous residence, totaling 25 years of zoning board experience.

McIntire said she is “not partisan,” explaining that she does not agree with Republican colleagues on every issue. She said the Sullivan County Republicans asked if she would run for the seat and McIntire felt it was important to provide voters a choice.

On the issue of education funding, the two candidates contrast sharply, particularly about New Hampshire’s fledgling school voucher program, Education Freedom Accounts.

Launched in 2021, Education Freedom Accounts give state money, approximately $4,800 per student, to eligible low- and moderate-income families to fund costs of a non-public school education, such as a private school or a homeschool option.

As of Sept. 1 the program had enrolled over 3,000 students, twice the number of students enrolled the previous year. The program cost also has dwarfed the figures originally presented by Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut to legislators last year.

In 2022, the actual program cost $14.7 million, nearly five times what Edelblut had projected for the second year.

Sullivan said he remains opposed to the voucher program, pointing out that it has diverted funding from New Hampshire public schools to families whose children were already attending private schools or being homeschooled.

Sullivan said that addressing the state’s inadequate funding of public schools needs to be a top priority of the Legislature.

“We are again facing lawsuits over the inequities that exist between different school districts,” Sullivan said. “I think the report of the school funding commission that has been ignored for the past two years should be revisited for potential solutions.”

McIntire, a vocal advocate of school choice, believes the school voucher program needs to increase its funding to cover the full cost of the student’s private schooling or home-schooling. In addition, she believes the child’s local school district should cover the remainder of the expense.

“The local districts are also responsible for all the students in the district,” even those who are not enrolled in the public school, McIntire said.

The candidates also differ on the 2022 New Hampshire abortion bill, which bans abortions after 24 weeks unless the life or health of the patient is at risk or in the event of a fatal fetal abnormality.

Sullivan said the recently passed bill should be repealed and that abortion protections should be codified into state law.

“There are many reasons why a woman and her doctor might need to make decisions regarding continuing a pregnancy,” Sullivan said. “The current law threatens to criminalize and therefore intimidate doctors into providing advice that may not be in a woman’s best interest.”

McIntire said the state law effectively strikes a reasonable balance between providing women a window of time to abort a pregnancy while protecting a fetus once it may be viable to survive outside the womb.

But she also believes that the law’s exception language should be applied loosely to allow the woman, not the government, to determine when a late-term pregnancy should be terminated.

“Of course there are always hard, controversial (or) personal decisions that will need to be made during those last three months,” McIntire said. “Women and their doctors and their loved ones need to have the choice to make these decisions without undue government interference.”

On the issue of inflation and rising energy costs, Sullivan said he largely blames a resistance by many legislators, as well as Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, to shift the state’s energy usage toward renewable sources.

“The spike in the cost of natural gas could have and should have been anticipated,” Sullivan said. “Several bills that would have supported renewable energy were either blocked or vetoed in recent years. If adopted, the dramatic increase in electricity cost would have been mitigated.”

McIntire said she would like to see the state provide incentives for private companies and public utilities to provide discounted prices on items such as food, heating fuels and goods.

McIntire also advocates for companies, and even consumers, to adopt “Just in Time” principles, an economic philosophy in which manufacturers and venders reduce their production or inventory to what is needed at that time, to eliminate waste and minimize inventory storage costs.

For consumers, the application of these principles would equate to reducing one’s living costs to essential needs and finding creative ways to save money.

“Need is the mother of invention,” McIntire said. “Support innovation, reduce, reuse, recycle.”

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

Correction: This story has been corrected from a previous version that misstated which towns are now represented in Sullivan District 1 after redistricting earlier this year.

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