A few days ago, Windham businessman Al Letizio Jr.’s plans changed.
His friend, Selectmen’s Chairman Bruce Breton, became seriously ill, enough to land Breton in a hospital bed at Parkland Medical Center in Derry.
Today, Letizio, 53, a former School Board member, will walk a path Breton had been expected to take, filing at Town Hall to run for a three-year term as selectman.
Other filings may lack the drama of Letizio’s, but will be no less important over the next 10 days in Southern New Hampshire.
People will be stepping up to run not only for selectman, but also for School Board, Planning Board, Budget Committee and other key posts. Voters will choose the winners at Town Meeting on March 12.
“It’s important for two reasons. One is that New Hampshire, like other New England states, has a long tradition of local government,” St. Anselm College assistant professor of politics Chris Galdieri said. “So, these offices provide an opportunity for participation in local governance that’s really unusual compared to other parts of the country.”
The other reason is that New Hampshire’s large number of opportunities for people to run for office opens doors to future service, he said.
“That means that these offices can help create a large body of people with practical experience in government who may go on to other, more prominent offices later in their lives,” Galdieri said.
Local office holders also can take actions that have more immediate impact than those in Congress or the Legislature, he said.
“The effects of something like health-care reform can take years to become fully apparent, but the effects of opening a new library or changing kindergarten hours are clear as soon as they happen,” Galdieri said.
Citizens learn about their local government by serving in it.