New Grafton House District 11 pits Statehouse veterans against each other

  • Lex Berezhny (Courtesy photograph)

  • Catherine Mulholland. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 11/4/2022 12:43:19 AM
Modified: 11/4/2022 12:43:01 AM

GRAFTON — In newly redrawn Grafton House District 11, candidates who both have legislative experience will face off against each other on Nov. 8.

First-term incumbent Republican New Hampshire state Rep. Lex Berezhny will face former four-term Democratic state Rep. Catherine Mulholland for a seat representing Grafton, Alexandria, Hebron and Groton.

Besides both residing in Grafton and each having served in the Legislature before, the candidates have another thing in common: They were born overseas before immigrating to the United States and eventually settling in New Hampshire.

Mulholland, an 82-year-old retired financial analyst born in England, arrived in Grafton in the 1980s and became a citizen a decade later in part so she could participate in local government. She served on the Grafton Budget and Recreation committees, and after losing a Grafton Selectboard election, set her sights for the Legislature, where she served from 2004 to 2010, and 2012 to 2014.

Berezhny, a 38-year-old software developer, was born in Kyiv, Ukraine, and immigrated with his parents to Chicago when he was 7 years old. He moved to New Hampshire in 2006, getting his first taste of public service by joining the Grafton Volunteer Fire Department and Ambulance service.

While the candidates have the shared experience of being immigrants, they offer Grafton 11 voters a clear choice between two different political philosophies.

One of the biggest differences is school choice. Berezhny, who declined a phone interview with the Valley News and instead asked to respond to questions via email, “fully” supports school choice.

“School choice leads to competition and innovation,” he wrote in an email. “Money following the child does not mean the end of public schools; it just means everyone will have to try harder for our kids.”

Mulholland, who said she is a strong supporter in public schools, objects to school choice because it undermines the public school system and provides government support for religious institutions.

“We have separation of church and state, and I find it extremely disquieting when you siphon money off (of public schools) for religious purposes,” she said, while also adding that she’d like to see New Hampshire provide access to more early childhood education.

Mulholland places much of the blame for inflation on the Federal Reserve for making money too easy to borrow. She says that raising interest rates — which the reserve has done five times since March — is the most effective tool for calming inflation.

“I believe the (rate increases) are working their way through the system,” she notes, while pointing to similar rate increases in the 1980s that are credited with eventually bringing inflation under control during that era.

While also agreeing that inflation is primarily the result of monetary policy at the federal level, Berezhny says that New Hampshire can help lessen the blow of high consumer prices by cutting taxes “where possible” and having a fiscally responsible budget.

“The Republican majority did an amazing job with the budget this term, even on the heels of a pandemic, and we can do the same again next term,” he wrote. “Less spending by the state means less taxes needed, and therefore you keep more of your money. This helps with inflation.”

And Berezhny adds that New Hampshire’s less-aggressive approach to pursuing renewable energy will help.

“New Hampshire will do better in this crisis because we have not added as much overhead of the renewable energy transition to ratepayer bills, compared to surrounding states.”

But Mulholland counters that residents would have been better off if the adoption of renewable energy began more earnestly 40 years ago.

“If we had, we wouldn’t be in the situation we are in today, with energy being a major component of inflation,” she said. “You have the Exxons and Mobils of the world who have been given the opportunity to jack up prices. It’s understandable why people would say, ‘Why didn’t we drill more?’ but again, you have the long-term consequences.”

On the topic of abortion, Mulholland’s views line up largely with her party’s — the decision to have an abortion should be left between a woman and her doctors.

Berezhny’s similar position puts him outside the Republican Party orthodoxy.

“The decision to have an abortion should be a private matter between a pregnant woman, her doctor and her family,” he wrote, while adding that abortions later in pregnancy were “gruesome” and “barbaric.” “I voted against the 24-week ban and would certainly vote against any further restrictions, but at this point I also would not support completely returning to abortion-up-to-birth, of viable fetus, without restriction.”

While she supports abortion rights, even after 24 weeks, Mulholland laments that the focus on the number of weeks has driven a lot of the debate around abortion access.

“I think any woman who wants to have an abortion for economic or social or family reasons has probably made up her mind well before 24 weeks, but there are cases where the fetus is deemed unviable or the mother’s life is in jeopardy,” she said. “Those must be pretty rare, but (they’ve) been blown out of all proportion.

“In so many circumstances,” she adds, “abortion is the hard but better choice.”

Justin Campfield can be reached at

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