Answers to FAQs
Why do you think you have what it takes to run for political office?
In all honesty, like most people I've talked to who shared their feelings about running for office the first time, I do happen to feel ill-equipped. Who among us is really equipped with the tools necessary to adequately and faithfully represent a whole swath of people with a whole variety of opinions on a whole host of issues? Gee whiz ...
And yet, that's the system we have. New Hampshire's House of Representatives is wicked cool -- and unique. There's (roughly) one representative for every 3,500 or so people in the state. New Hampshire has the third largest legislative body in the English speaking world (behind the 1. British Parliament; and 2. US Congress). The New Hampshire House is the largest state legislative body in the entire United States.
Because each representative has relatively few people to represent, it makes it so that a State Rep is really connected to people -- accessible, present, and local. I'm committed to being accessible to the people of District 5, to being present when duties of the office require it, and balancing the concerns that exist at the local level with the concerns that present themselves at the state level.
I think I have what it takes because I'm convinced the tools necessary are these -- Effort. Willingness. Listening ears. A creative spirit. And a heart for justice.
Were there any particular reasons that you felt called to throw your hat in the ring for a seat at the State House?
There are lots of challenges that we face as a state, for sure! But if I'm being honest, there are indeed five things that, in recent months, have kept me up at night a time or two (or lots more than that!) and pushed me to make the decision to throw my hat into the ring. I share these points here, not to somehow reflect a specific, set agenda or declare some list of campaign priorities, but to help you learn more about my wiring, my character, and my commitment to my neighbors.
1. Conversion Therapy: There was a debate as to whether the people of New Hampshire would agree to ban Conversion Therapy on young people. For those who aren't sure what that is, Conversion Therapy is a debunked practice which is grounded in the belief that people can be *converted* from gay to straight with the right kind of therapy. Every bit of available research from resources that are backed by science tells us that a person simply cannot change who they are. LGBTQ persons who have undergone Conversion Therapy talk about it as being both ineffective, traumatic, and torturous. Most of the Republicans in the House voted the wrong way on this. Thankfully, a few Republicans joined with their Democratic colleagues to ban Conversion Therapy for minors. I'm flummoxed as to how someone could vote otherwise! I want to be elected because there is a kind of thinking in Concord that is simply not cool. It is my belief that every person in this state should be free from what the research tells us is ineffective traumatic, and torturous treatment.
2. Discrimination of Transgender Persons: There was a debate about whether the State of New Hampshire would ban discrimination against Transgender persons. Look, I get it. We tend to be sort of afraid of the stuff that we don't know. Lots of people do not actually know a person who is transgender. But we don't have to know a transgender person personally in order to insist on decency. I believe that every single person in the great State of New Hampshire is absolutely deserving of every single right that any other citizen has. To allow discrimination against any one person is immoral and opens up the possibility to discriminate against another kind of person who may be marginalized in some way. There were a lot of Republicans that voted in such a way that would allow ongoing discrimination against Transgender persons. Thankfully, some Republicans joined with their Democratic colleagues to end discrimination against transgender persons. How someone could vote otherwise is simply beyond my comprehension! It is my belief that every single one should be treated equally & fairly regardless of how another might feel about them.
3. Opioid Crisis: I came to learn that there was an effort on the part of the Senate Democrats to use 10% of the state's "rainy day fund" which has a present value of about $100,000,000 dollars and use that money to help fight the opioid epidemic. The state's Republicans balked at that insisting that the "rainy day fund" should be saved for a rainy day. The Republicans of New Hampshire had it wrong when they couldn't see the opioid epidemic as "a rainy day." In fact, to my mind, it's pouring out there! Overdose deaths are stealing our communities' young people at an alarming rate. New Hampshire is in trouble! Should I be elected, I'll be pushing for the smartest and boldest spending possible. That's right ... spending. We need treatment options, support services, live-in facilities, and special job-training that are effective and that do not depend on whether a family is economically advantaged. It's raining out there, and -- while the numbers seem to suggest that the storm has not gotten more violent -- we are not demonstrably better situated this year as compared to last year. We must do more.
4. School Funding: We have to be honest with ourselves. Funding schools primarily through our town property taxes is not working for everyone. It is in my best interest, in your best interest, and in the State of New Hampshire's best interest that every single child receive an excellent education regardless of where they happen to live. For many years, we've known that this is not happening. It is just nuts for towns to come to the conclusion that it's in their respective residents' financial best interest (keeping property taxes as low as possible) to make their town unappealing for young families. Fewer kids will mean a decreasing school funding burden. How short-sighted of us as a state that is aging at an alarming rate! The worst thing that we can do as a state is enable this type of thinking. We need young families in all of our towns. We need great schools. We need fairly paid teachers and staff. We are a great state that is chock full of small towns. Young families give a small town community life and energy and hope. I will be pushing for creative thinking to figure out the best way for the great State of New Hampshire to shift away from funding schools with local property taxes. All options are on the table!
5. Guns: Lastly, a word about guns. I believe that hunters should have the guns they need to hunt, that target shooters (and the like) should have the guns they need to shoot at targets, and that people who want to protect themselves should have the guns they need to protect themselves. I have to admit that I find the easy access to military style weapons to be of grave concern. We need to create space for conversation to find reasonable solutions.
I don't want to get in the way of almost anyone who wants to own the guns they wish to own. But here's the thing: I do believe that there is a very, very small number of individuals who should not have guns. There are people who, in one way or another, are on a dangerous and destructive track. Who are those people? That is a great question and we need to have honest conversations and take reasonable steps.
I think there are some number of people in our culture who are really angry in some overtly frightening ways and have a social media history that is chock full of violence. I think there are a number of people in our culture who, through no fault of their own, are wired differently and struggle with mental illness. I think there are a number of people in our culture who have previously shown themselves to be a danger to another (a parent, a child, and domestic partner, to name a few). I think there are people who have been flagged by federal agencies as being a potential danger. We need to have healthy conversations -- free from propaganda-laced and fear-based diatribes that paid agitators on cable news channels and tribe-centric websites are spouting for their own personal enrichment. And make no mistake -- in no small way, this is about money!
I hope that the people of New Hampshire will choose not to be held captive by the ones who (maliciously or not) push paranoia and fear. Most people I know, whether they are self-identitied gun-lovers or not, are open to finding consensus. There are too many people who die each year because someone who ought not ever have had a gun got through a loophole (or worse yet, was able to get a gun legally due to our inability to find reasonable landing spots of consensus).
Complicated times call for our best selves to step forward and try our best. I will reject name-calling and fear mongering and deflection whenever it arises. We can figure out something smart ... I just know it.
Who are your leadership inspirations?
I am a fan of political leaders who make the right decision even though it could mean losing an election. Check out PROFILES IN COURAGE by John F. Kennedy. Bernie Sanders, Harriett Tubman, and Fannie Lou Hamer are people who have given me the feels. I like the Ronald Reagan / Tip O'Neill dynamic of the 1980s which required both of them compromising in order to achieve goals. I like the moral leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In politics today ... on the right, I like Jeff Flake (especially for his classy presence during a State of the Union address after Gabby Giffords was shot) and on the left like Elizabeth Warren (because, like her or not, she is fighting for the rights of the average, everyday consumer).
Is there anything about this run that causes you to worry?
In all honesty, I worry that there are people who will completely dismiss my campaign simply on the basis of my being gay. Even though it's gotten better for LGBTQ persons here in New Hampshire in recent years, the fact that the 2017 votes related to the ban on discrimination against transgender persons and the vote related to ban on Conversion Therapy were so incredibly close tells me that there remains a whole lot of obstacles facing LGBTQ persons. Stunningly, 2017 saw a rise in violence across the country against LGBTQ persons. And yet, I'm certainly not going to hide who I am. Just as my identity as a Christian is heavily at work in my sense of things, and my identity as son, brother, & uncle is heavily at work in my sense of things -- my identity as an LGBTQ person is heavily at work in my sense of things. I know what it means to feel marginalized. I know what it means to feel afraid. I know what it means to be demeaned (thanks, most recently, to a resident of Ossipee who wanted to be sure that I knew he believed that gay people are going to hell).
I'm thankful that the next generation has far fewer hang-ups about LGBTQ things, but I do worry about being treated unkindly or unfairly (or whatever) because I am an openly gay person. There are quite a number of people who remain "in the closet" around these parts because of guilt or shame or fear. While I worry about neighbors being unkind to me (or heck -- about me), I am who I am and I'm going to advocate for people who tend to get the crappy end of the stick.
Can you get elected in District 5?
There is no doubt that I am someone who is on the progressive side of things. I believe that we've got to figure out how to be sure that everyone has good quality and affordable healthcare (because when people do not have healthcare and are in need, it costs us A LOT). I want our water and air to be clean, and that means that we should be open to reasonable regulations and restrictions (because there are irresponsible agents that are unapologetically harming those natural resources). I think that the education of each child in this state in the responsibility of each citizen of this state (because it's in everyone's best interest that we have an educated citizenry). I think we have to spend money on providing resources to fight the opioid crisis (because there will be a cost one way or the other and I'd rather help ones who are in trouble). I'm in favor of legalizing cannabis use and using the tax income on public education. I guess these are considered to be progressive ideas.
But you know what? I'm having lots of conversations with people in District 5. Most people I talk to agree that healthcare for all people is smart. Most people agree that having clean water and clean air is a good thing. Most people agree that it's good to have smart, engaged, involved young people in our communities. Most people are of the mind that the deaths of so, so many young people from opioid abuse is definitely a *Rainy Day* for New Hampshire. Most people have come or are coming to terms with the changing views in our culture and are recognizing that we can do a much better job in having an honest, good faith conversation about cannabis.