EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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June 16, 2013

Some N.H. lawmakers fail to show up to vote

Health, job issues prevent some lawmakers from voting

The session isn’t over yet, but some Southern New Hampshire legislators have already earned failing grades for attendance.

Voting records for the region’s nearly four dozen state representatives show that while a handful participated in each of the 164 roll-call votes through June 5, others were often nowhere to be seen.

Many lawmakers missed several dozen votes over the last five months.

Leading the pack of absentees was Rep. Gary Azarian, R-Salem, who voted only six times the entire session — all on May 22. That was when the House rejected expanded gambling legislation that could have paved the way for a casino at Rockingham Park in Salem.

Business commitments and a serious family illness prevented him from making the nearly daily trek to Concord, he said. Azarian missed 158 votes only a year after participating in 96 percent of the House roll-call votes

He said he considered resigning at one point, but decided to stick it out once his personal situation improved.

“It’s been difficult, I needed to be closer to home,” Azarian said. “Hopefully, the voters will understand that my family needed to come first.”

Others who missed numerous votes this session include Reps. David Lundgren, R-Londonderry; Jeffrey Oligny, R-Plaistow; and Ronald Belanger, R-Salem.

In contrast, there were those who didn’t miss a single roll-call vote. They are Reps. Patrick Bick, R-Salem; Mary Griffin, R-Windham; John Sedensky, R-Hampstead; Kevin Waterhouse, R-Windham; and Lisa Whittemore, D-Londonderry.

“I make every meeting — that’s my job,” said Griffin, 87. “There are some people who don’t have the same dedication. I would say, ‘Don’t do it’ if you’re not interested. It’s not fair.”

Legislators who only missed a vote or two include Rep. Mary Allen, R-Newton, and Rep. Kenneth Weyler, R-Kingston.

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