Two of New Hampshire’s five Executive Councilors are now running for Governor, while the other three will be defending their Council seats in November. I’ll be posting more information about these candidates in the coming weeks.
Note that all of the Democratic candidates for Council have been endorsed by Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund PAC, reflecting their commitment to keeping taxpayers involved in the abortion industry.
The Executive Council’s responsibilities include voting on state contracts and deciding whether to confirm the Governor’s nominees to various posts. Read more about the Council at nh.gov.
District One: North Country
Incumbent Councilor Joe Kenney (R-Wakefield) is being challenged for the third time by Democrat Michael Cryans. The two went head-to-head in the 2014 special election that followed the death of longtime Councilor Ray Burton, and Kenney prevailed narrowly on that occasion as well as in the regular election a few months later.
Kenney was part of the Council majority that denied a contract to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in 2015. The contract was brought up again in June 2016 and was approved thanks to the flip-flop of Councilor Chris Sununu. During that June meeting, just before the contract vote was taken, Kenney explained his reasons for voting No.
“I’ll be voting against the contract, mostly because of the prioritization….[F]amily planning services is not the crisis of the day…. The number one issue in the state of New Hampshire is the opioid crisis. Number one.
“…We’re basically re-addressing something that was taken up last year, and this Council spoke very articulately and very forcefully that they were not going to support the contract….We should put that money into the drug opioid crisis.“
District Two: Concord, Keene, Durham, etc.
The Executive Council district map that illustrates this post features district 2 outlined in red. This, folks, is what a gerrymander looks like. Outgoing Councilor Colin Van Ostern of Concord will be succeeded by either Democrat Andru Volinsky of Concord or Republican Sam Cataldo of Farmington.
With his Council bid, Cataldo is giving up his district 6 Senate seat. He has a pro-life voting record, including support for a death penalty repeal bill which failed on a tie Senate vote in 2014.
Volinsky, an attorney from Concord, scored a decisive win in a three-way Democratic primary.
District Three: Seacoast & Southern Rockingham County
Democrat Beth Roth and Republican Russell Prescott are running for the Council seat being vacated by Chris Sununu.
In a Union Leader column last May, Roth wrote that the Council’s 2015 denial of the PP contract “mortgaged the health of women and families to satisfy a national partisan agenda….I’m running for Executive Council in District 3 because I believe we must fully restore funding for Planned Parenthood…”
Prescott (R-Kingston) has served several terms as state senator for district 23. He has supported many life-issue bills but opposed death penalty repeal in 2014.
District Four: Manchester + areas north and east of the city
Incumbent Councilor Chris Pappas, a Manchester Democrat, is being challenged by Manchester’s Joseph Kelly Levasseur.
In August 2015, Pappas said it would be “inhumane” to deny PP a contract with the state of New Hampshire.
Levasseur has served the city of Manchester as alderman and planning board member. I don’t know anything about his views on the life issues – yet. [Update 10/3/16: Levasseur was a speaker at the October 2 40 Days for Life rally in Manchester. ]
District Five: Nashua + points west and northwest
As Councilor, and before that as state senator and state representative, incumbent David Wheeler (R-Milford) has been an outspoken advocate for the right to life. He has opposed the use of public money for any abortion provider, not just PP. I’ve been proud to have Dave as my district’s Councilor. Note that he has not had occasion in recent years to vote on the death penalty, and I won’t guess where he stands on that.
Dan Weeks (D-Nashua), holding a Planned Parenthood endorsement, does not mention it on his web site. The site does mention “critical investments in women’s health.” I don’t suppose that includes investing in statistical collection of abortion data, but I could be wrong.
Keep an eye on these five races, which will determine how readily abortion providers can get at your money. Recall that the state commissioner of health and human services Jeffrey Meyers said that state contracts with abortion providers for non-abortion services pay for “infrastructure”: “My understanding from speaking with both of the vendors after the contract was brought forth for the agenda is that that money will continue to support their infrastructure, some specific needs, that will allow them to continue access.” There’s no way to divide “infrastructure” under one roof to keep abortion financially separate from non-abortion work.