Clear divides in race for Grafton 18 seat

  • Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban (Courtesy photograph)

  • John Sellers (Courtesy photograph)

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 10/23/2022 8:34:55 PM
Modified: 10/23/2022 9:15:01 PM

GRAFTON — The two candidates vying to represent the 10 towns in Grafton District 18 in the New Hampshire House of Representatives hold contrasting views on abortion, inflation and climate.

Democratic candidate Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban, of Bridgewater, N.H., and Republican nominee John Sellers, of Bristol, N.H. are seeking election in November in hopes of representing the “floterial district,” created in 2022 as part of New Hampshire’s redistricting, which includes the Upper Valley towns of Canaan, Dorchester, Enfield, Grafton and Orange, as well as Alexandria, Bridgewater, Bristol, Groton and Hebron.

Fluehr-Lobban, an anthropologist and educator of 35 years, said she decided to run because, “The times are just so concerning” she said, “I am worried about democracy, I’m worried about choice. I am definitely strong pro-choice.”

In contrast, on the issue of abortion rights, Sellers said that the current law in New Hampshire still allows abortion up to 24 weeks, which he said is not as restrictive as he would like.

“I don’t have any agenda at this moment to go in and change it,” he said in a phone interview. But “I will say my personal opinion is I don’t like it the way it is.”

On school choice the two candidates also have opposing viewpoints.

Fluehr-Lobban said, “I’m an educator. I’m a very strong supporter of public education and understand those who might have religious beliefs or other beliefs where they want to fund their own private education.”

Having gone to a Catholic school herself, Fluehr-Lobban said, “I didn’t learn about science until I went to college” and “I would never, as a legislator, support public funding for private education unless there was some compelling reason that it either had to do with disabilities or some good public social cause.”

Sellers served on the Bristol budget committee for four years, is currently on Newfound Area School District Budget Committee and is in favor of school choice.

“I understand people’s concern that that’s tax money and they don’t want to be paying for religious education,” he said. But ultimately, “I think money should follow the kids, that would be a program I support.”

As far as how to address rising costs across the nation and New Hampshire, Sellers doesn’t see a simple solution.

He said “energy is the driver of all these other increases (...) we need an energy solution.”

In the near term, he said, “subsidies help (...) as a Band-Aid but it doesn’t solve the problem.”

In the longer term, he said, “We should use all and any means that’s available to us, may it be hydro, wind, solar.”

For her part, in terms of addressing inflation, Fleuhr-Loban said she is in favor of supporting workers, but didn’t provide details of how she would do so if elected.

She said she is, “Unabashedly, pro-union, pro-worker, pro-little people, what I mean by ‘little people’ is just ordinary people who are just trying to do the right thing, trying to raise their kids, trying to support a family or buy a home or maintain a home.”

On climate, Sellers said he believes, “The climate I think is going up and down (...) it’s always changing. It’s just kind of strange that in the last 50 years we think that we have a problem with climate.”

For her part, Fleuhr-Loban, a beekeeper who teaches others about beekeeping and the importance of pollinators, said she personally is, “Really strongly committed to environmental conservation beyond preservation, conservation.”

Same day registration is permitted in New Hampshire. Election day is Nov. 8. Polling places for Upper Valley towns in Grafton District 18 are as follows:

Canaan Fire Station, 62 NH Rt. 118, 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Dorchester Town Hall, 24 Town House Road, 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Enfield Community Building, 308 U.S Rt. 4, 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Grafton Fire Station, 5 Library Road, 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Orange Town House, 8 Townhouse Road, 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Laura Koes can be reached at

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