First-time candidates look to represent Mascoma Valley in NH House race

  • Donald McFarlane (Courtesy photograph)

  • Corinne Morse (Courtesy photograph)

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 11/2/2022 10:15:52 PM
Modified: 11/3/2022 9:03:32 AM

The Grafton House District 9 race features a faceoff between two first-time candidates looking to bring the viewpoints of parents with young children to the New Hampshire House of Representatives.

The newly redrawn district includes the towns of Canaan, Dorchester and Orange.

Canaan Democrat Corinne Morse is a 35-year-old stay-at-home mom and former elementary school educational assistant who currently serves on the Canaan Planning Board and is an active member of the Canaan Elementary School PTA. She has been a resident of Canaan since 2018, when she moved there from Washington state so her husband could take a job at Novo Nordisk in West Lebanon.

Republican Donald McFarlane, of Orange, is an information technology security expert with a decade of experience as a volunteer EMT and EMS chief who currently serves on the Orange Planning Board. After spending part of his childhood in both the United Kingdom and the United States, he moved to New Hampshire for good in 2008. He declined to provide his specific age to the Valley News, citing his background in IT security, but he acknowledged that he is in his late 40s.

Both candidates cite improving the education system as prime motivating factors for seeking election to the state house. Where they differ on however, is the efficacy of one of the state’s most highly debated education issues: Education Freedom Accounts, which allow for public school funds to be used for alternative forms of education such as homeschooling or parochial schools.

Morse said she wants to ensure that students who live in less-affluent areas receive the same education as those in affluent areas and has concerns that EFAs are costing New Hampshire taxpayers too much, are over budget and not working as intended. She also objects to public tax dollars going to private institutions that do not open their doors to everyone.

“I support parents being able to make decisions about where their children attend school; however, I don’t think money that should be going to private schools, religious schools or schools that will not allow children with disabilities to attend,” said Morse. “As a mom who has children with special needs, I would certainly hate to see a push for tax dollars to go to private schools that will not accept my child and for our (public) school to lose the ability to provide the services we rely on.”

For his part, McFarlane is a supporter of EFAs and counters that he believes that much of the criticism directed toward EFAs is unwarranted.

“The Education Freedom Account system is very limited in scope,” said McFarlane, pointing to eligibility requirements that limit participants to students from families who earn only up to 300% of the federal poverty level. “I think the general perception is, and I would tend to agree with it, is that it is saving the school district from having another (student) that they have to fund locally.”

As a result, McFarlane said he thinks “it is fair to say that the program has a real opportunity to lower our property taxes, not increase them.”

Both candidates are concerned about inflation and the rising cost of living in New Hampshire. McFarlane argues that the state could save residents money by stopping what he calls the penalization of fossil fuels.

“I understand and I respect the concerns that drive people to say we don’t want to have heavily polluting power plants and we want to explore options for renewable energy,” said McFarlane. “However, turning that into ‘we are going to penalize New Hampshire’s residents today,’ especially residents who can least afford it, by hiking their costs while we get to that goal, I don’t think is the way to go.”

Morse suggests that moving away from fossil fuels offers a path toward lower energy costs.

“Can we continue to just rely entirely on fossil fuels, which is proving to not be a good choice? Or do we start to invest in more renewable energy that will over time bring the cost of energy down for Granite Staters?” she said.

An area that the candidates are more closely aligned on, albeit with some subtle differences, is abortion rights.

While he is personally opposed to abortion, McFarlane takes a more libertarian approach when it comes to the state’s role in it.

“I am a lifelong advocate of personal liberty, and I believe that choosing to terminate a pregnancy is a profoundly personal choice,” said McFarlane. “It may involve religious beliefs; it may involve medical considerations. Personally, I believe that life begins at conception and that it should be protected. But I don’t think it is the province of the state to legislate that. So I am certainly not looking to propose any additional restrictions on a woman’s right to choose.”

New Hampshire currently bars abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy, with some exceptions.

Morse’s support for abortion rights is quite personal.

“As a woman who has been pregnant, who has two children and who has also experienced an abortion (due to an ectopic pregnancy) and loss, it is incredibly important women are able to make decisions about their body, their health care, all those things privately with their doctors,” she said.

Due to the drug methotrexate used to terminate an ectopic pregnancy that occurred after the birth of her first child, Morse was at elevated risk for complications during her next pregnancy, complications that she said would not have become fully apparent until after the 24th week. Fortunately for Morse, her husband and her daughter, who is now a first grader at Canaan Elementary School, complications did not arise, but the experience reinforced Morse’s opinion that there is a lot of misinformation about why women have abortions.

“It would have been an absolutely devastating decision to have needed to end that pregnancy,” recalled Morse. “I just think we should be meeting this issue with compassion and education.”

Justin Campfield can be reached at

Sign up for our free email updates
Valley News Daily Headlines
Valley News Contests and Promotions
Valley News Extra Time
Valley News Breaking News

Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784


© 2021 Valley News
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy