Jason Bourne seeks supremacy vs. Larry Flint in NH House Democratic primary

  • Jason Bourne (Courtesy photograph)

  • Larry Flint (Courtesy photograph)

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 8/27/2022 3:20:05 AM
Modified: 8/27/2022 3:19:51 AM

Democrats Jason Bourne of Cornish and Larry Flint of Newport are running for the party nomination in the newly drawn Sullivan 7 House seat. The district towns are Charlestown, Cornish, Newport, Plainfield and Unity.

The winner of the Sept. 13 primary will face Republican Margaret Drye, of Plainfield, in the Nov. 8 election.

Bourne, 52, is making his first run for statewide office, while Flint, 76, has been unsuccessful in the two most recent election cycles for the New Hampshire House.

Bourne is director of technology at Kimball Union Academy and also has served on the Cornish Zoning Board for 15 years. Flint, retired, worked most recently part time for the postal service and prior to that was Newport’s recreation director for 11 years.

Education funding, affordable housing, reproductive rights and energy prices are issues Bourne said he would work to address if sent to Concord. Flint said he wants to focus on issues surrounding aging and housing but also stressed the need for more middle-ground legislators.

“I don’t like the divisiveness in the House of Representatives,” Flint said. “Democrats and Republicans are the extremes. I am the moderate, and I believe it is time to get back to the center and think about the community you are representing.”

For Bourne, it’s time to solve once and for all the long-standing and contentious debate over funding K-12 public education. When a homeowner with a $600,000 property in one town pays the same in school taxes as one with a $200,000 property in another town, it demonstrates an inequity that needs to be addressed, Bourne said.

With annual state aid at $3,800 per student but the cost to educate a student at more than $20,000 per student, Bourne said the state must do more.

“It just seems inequitable. We need to commit as a state to properly funding education,” he said “We have to have a hard conversation on how we do that. But we have to draw a line in the sand as a state and commit to educating our students.”

Another troublesome issue for Bourne is the ban on so-called “divisive concepts” passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2021 as part of the state budget. While the term “divisive concepts” never made it into the final legislation, it became shorthand for the policy that limits teachers’ ability to discuss topics including race and gender that might make students feel uncomfortable. Critics have said vague guidelines from the Department of Education and aggressive penalties against educators mean the law amounts to a culture-war-driven effort to silence teachers.

Bourne argues that it prohibits teaching of topics dealing with race and gender, which he views as a restriction on free speech in the classroom.

“That frustrates me,” he said. “Teachers are qualified professionals, and they should be trusted to have those discussions with students based on 21st century education. I feel like that was a step backward, silencing what one party feels are divisive concepts.”

The recent U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that returned laws on abortion to the states is another reason Bourne said he was motivated to run.

“This is a real blow to equality, to what I would call body autonomy,” Bourne said. “I don’t feel the Legislature should be involved at all in this medical decision. I would vote to repeal abortion bans (now at 24 weeks in New Hampshire) and leave it to providers and their patients.”

Both Bourne and Flint agree that the lack of affordable housing has reached a crisis stage in New Hampshire.

“They can find a job but can’t find an affordable place to live,” Flint said. “Employers can’t hire people because there is no affordable housing. I want to seek solutions to create workforce housing.”

Bourne agrees housing needs a solution.

“It is becoming really difficult for people starting a career to afford to live here, and that poses an economic threat, in my opinion,” Bourne said, adding that manufacturers are telling him that job fairs that once drew 200 people now draw about 20.

Bourne also wants to see more diversification of the state’s energy supply by adding more renewables and lowering dependence on the petroleum industry.

Flint has been involved with New Hampshire Alliance for Healthy Aging since its inception 12 years ago and the New Hampshire Senior Games for 34 years. He wants to bring his experience and knowledge in those areas to Concord.

“When they pass legislation, I don’t think they are fully aware of what older adults are facing today,” said Flint, a certified caregiver trainer.

Flint looks at aging as a process that begins right after birth and involves addressing the cost of child care as much as the high cost of nursing homes.

“We should look to keep people in their homes as long as possible,” Flint said.

Voters can choose the winner of the Democratic primary on Sept. 13.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.

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