Thoughts On The 2018 NH Primary Season By Kyle Leach
This mid-term election season has been more interesting than most NH primary election cycles. There is a sense that we need imminent change; there is a sense that we need more progressive thought and a greater push to get progressive candidates to win and I think I can safely say progressives have been winning. The people in my local political circles seem very tired, but just as determined, maybe even more determined, to try to make a difference for the Republic and for as many citizens as they can, despite the hardships we face in the tail end of the second decade of the 21st century.
Many valuable people have stepped up to the task of running for office. They have my gratitude just for doing that. I do not envy them. The hurdles ahead locally, regionally, and nationally are daunting. We’ve been able to see most of the candidates and get a sense of where they are and what they want to try to tackle first. And this is where my first source of ire springs forth.
If you are going to make a go for a political position, please do not wait to run until the season is almost over. A few candidates in the CD 1 race did this. It is a mistake. It makes you look like a drama queen. It diminishes the process and, it dismisses the position filed for. Good candidates put in the very hard work of campaigning. Good candidates have time for small towns and politically unimportant people. Good candidates build campaigns over time to connect with locals and fund raise from the local level. It shows you are invested in a broad range of areas. It shows you might actually care about their locality beyond the election cycle. Voters, please do not vote for candidates who abuse you like this. Your votes are certainly worth much more than this lazy behavior is worth.
While we are talking about small towns and visiting locals, I want to call attention to two other candidate behaviors I dislike, with two personal stories from this cycle. As I said before, we’ve seen most of the candidates in our local setting. This is invaluable for people living in small, rural towns; it is an important investment for legitimate campaigns. Whether we are talking about Molly Kelly for the governor’s race or Levi Sanders in the CD 1 race, I expect to see them, I expect to talk to them, and I expect to question them. As a former town chair, I expected at least that much from both of them and they failed our locality on that front. They were invited and we never heard from them. They didn’t even send a surrogate or at least a statement through the town chairs. This is unacceptable. I don’t want to hear excuses; I value my town and the people in it too much to accept any excuse they might give. We need to work on this failing; it is far too common.
The second personal story I want to tell covers the transgression of failing to read an audience or connect with a group you don’t know. I was with a group at the SCDC picnic last month. In the group were a local town chair, two former town chairs, and two people running for NH rep positions. All are very involved in the community. That’s a lot of local knowledge and experience in one place. We were enjoying ourselves and I at least had already talked with or exchanged pleasantries with most of the candidates present, at least the ones that matter to Farmington. Maura Sullivan came over to our group and sat down to chat. Maura started by asking if we were excited about this election season and if we could feel the energy of the campaigns. I call it the standard party “ra, ra” speech. If she had not met all of them before I might not have thought very much of this lack of understanding, but she had met them and been questioned by them at our local meeting. She misread them. She was trying to project that she cared about us and was excited to see us, but that effort fell flat. I found it insulting. Farmington is not the DC beltway bubble. Candidates have to get out of their comfort zones. The conversation seemed to go downhill from there. There wasn’t a connection and she couldn’t build one. It was immensely frustrating to watch and even harder to experience myself. I know Maura hasn’t lived in NH long, why would she know us like other candidates do? That cannot be an excuse for any candidate.
Connection is key in any political race. It’s essential in navigating the political realm. Some people connect with others easily, others don’t. That doesn’t mean a candidate cannot learn that skill and become better at it. I also think candidates cannot undervalue local knowledge and establishing connections with communities, especially localities that are struggling. Know the constituents you will represent. To not step up to this challenge is to relegate these communities and the people in them to obscurity after elections. This cannot be the cloth our candidates are cut from.
On Election Day I’m putting my vote toward progressive people I can trust. I plan to vote for Steve Marchand, a broad, unapologetic, thoughtful progressive voice, for governor. The CD1 primary race is filled with many good progressives I could vote for. I easily chose Mindi Messmer. She is a person of reason like my husband, a scientist who will look at DC a different way. In this age, the importance of that quality cannot be understated. The environment is not just a dead thing to her; it is our future, and that is a priority. Its restoration is not just an issue, not just a talking point; she knows how connected we are to it, how all life on the planet depends on humankind developing fast solutions to mitigate the damage we have done, like I do. Most importantly, she has enormous compassion and empathy. She has been invaluable ally to my own LGBTQIA community a number of times. It means a lot to me that someone will stick their neck out for people who need help.
We are so fortunate to have not one, but two wonderful candidates for NH state representative this year! Manny Krasner and Sylvis Arcouette are integral parts of Farmington’s community. They give and give, and give to the community; I can think of no better stewards for the two open legislative positions. Please vote for both of them. The very hard working Anne Grassie is running for our NH Senate seat. She would be a breath of fresh air for that seat and bring some much needed empathy and compassion to that office. Please give her an opportunity to serve us. Andru Volinsky has been able to restore some sanity to the Executive Council, so I would ask you to join me in supporting him for re-election to that position.
On NH Primary Day the Farmington polls are open 8 AM - 7 PM. Mark your calendars for Tuesday, September 11th and don’t forget to make your way to the Farmington Old Town Hall/ Rec Center gym, 531 Main ST, Farmington to vote. I certainly hope you will take the time. We need your vote then and we need you to turn out in force in November.