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One of Two Seats Is Open in New London-Area House District

  • Newbury Republican Daniel Wolf is among three candidates vying for two seats in the Merrimack 5 district in the New Hampshire House

  • Ebel

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/27/2016 12:13:03 AM
Modified: 10/27/2016 12:13:11 AM

New London — Two New London Democrats and a Newbury Republican are vying for two seats in the Merrimack 5 district in the New Hampshire House.

The district represents the towns of New London and Newbury. Incumbent David Kidder, R-New London, who is not seeking re-election, ran for a seat in the Merrimack County Commission. In last month’s primary he lost narrowly to two-term incumbent Peter Spaulding, of Hopkinton.

State Rep. Karen Ebel, D-New London, an attorney “in a former life,” has served in the House since 2012. Ebel, whose name is also on the Republican ballot, said she tries to use a commonsense lens to figure out good solutions, and very much believes in a bipartisan approach.

“I feel like the most important job I have is listen to my constituents and try to be very issue-focused,” she said.

Ebel, a New London Hospital trustee, said she supports Medicaid expansion.

Considering the number of people helped by it, and the amount of money that it brings into the state, it’s “incredibly important to keep it going, especially in light of our substance abuse crisis,” she said. “It will help with treatment.”

The challenging part always is the extent to which New Hampshire has to come up with funding for the amount of money that it has to pay, she said. But over time, the expansion should, theoretically, bring down insurance premiums in the state, which traditionally have been quite high.

Hospitals are expected to care for people who are uninsured, for which they are partially reimbursed by the state. To compensate, hospitals have to charge people with insurance higher fees, and in turn, insurance companies increase their rates, Ebel said. “We can all save money if people are insured.”

Ebel, 62, voted against repealing concealed carry permits and favors “commonsense background checks” that would provide information to the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for gun shows and online gun sales.

New Hampshire, which ranks 49th in the number of mental health records submitted to the system, must do a far better job providing pertinent records, she said, noting that the National Shooting Sports Foundation supports providing better data to NICS. “The system is only as good as the data provided to it.”

A “very big supporter” of protecting women’s rights to make their own health care decisions, Ebel was among the majority who rejected a resolution in the House calling for eliminating funding to Planned Parenthood.

The nonprofit has been an active health care provider for lower income women for years, and for men, she said. They spend their money effectively and have a network that couldn’t easily be replaced.

The second-ranking Democrat on the House Public Works and Highways Committee, Ebel ranks certain capital budget items as “extremely important.”

“For New Hampshire to move ahead into the future, we have to make wise investments across the board, especially in education and in our infrastructure,” she said. A former board member of the New Hampshire chapter of the Nature Conservancy, she also has a “very strong interest” in conservation and energy-related issues.

Daniel Wolf, R-Newbury, president and CEO of the New London real estate firm Hodan Properties, is making his first run for the House.

Wolf, who served 11 years on the Kearsarge Regional School Board, 10 as chairman, said he’s hoping to bring “some cooperative attitudes, consensus building and working together.”

“That’s what I’ve prided myself on doing with Kearsarge,” said Wolf, who has also served on the Newbury Selectboard, planning and zoning boards.

To solve its “serious, serious problems,” the country needs to come together, he said, “and that’s what I am going to try to do.”

Wolf, 69, stressed the importance of compromise and said he is not an “idealogue.”

Working together requires sitting down and talking, finding out where people’s limits are and whether they can compromise on one issue or another, said Wolf, who also is president of the New London Inn. “Sometimes you can’t get it, but you have to work toward it.”

Regarding Medicaid expansion, the early results seem to show it’s a sensible program, but he’s concerned about what its future costs might be and wants to learn more.

“Before I make a decision on anything I listen and get as much information as I can,” said Wolf, a former UPI photographer and self-described fiscal conservative.

On gun control, he believes everybody has a constitutional right, but not an unfettered right, to carry a gun.

“There are certain limits that have to occur on the Second Amendment,” said Wolf, who uses guns to protect the organic layer hens and sheep he raises.

For him, Planned Parenthood funding and abortion rights are also issues with gray areas. “You have to look at the whole thing” and find a consensus, he said.

“I don’t think blocking funding for Planned Parenthood makes sense. I don’t believe there is an unfettered right to an abortion,” he said. “Maybe there are ways to support Planned Parenthood and all of the things that Planned Parenthood wants” and still include lawmakers who oppose the organization because it provides abortions.

“Maybe somebody will support it if the abortion piece is funded by some other means, which it is,” he said. “I don’t know the answer, but I really want to work to find the answer.”

Key issues for him include properly providing for adequate education,” which doesn’t mean just money, Wolf said. “I think there are ways to do things that don’t necessarily cost money.”

Under his leadership, Kearsarge Regional School Board passed the first performance-based pay contract in the state, he said. “I am very proud of that.”

The third candidate, New London Democrat Jayne Powers Leary, who is in her 80s, could not be reached for comment. Leary has been in the hospital, Ebel said.

Aimee Caruso can be reached at or 603-727-3210.

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