By John Toole
---- — SALEM — Rep. Gary Azarian, R-Salem, is stepping down early from the New Hampshire House.
“Employment obligations, business obligations and family obligations have kept me from fully, and properly, fulfilling my commitments to the Ways and Means Committee, my constituents, and this institution,” Azarian told House Speaker Terie Norelli in a letter dated Monday.
“I will cherish the many friendships and wonderful people I have met over my past two terms and hope one day to be able to return,” he said.
Azarian, 53, has been planning to run for selectman in Salem.
He said he and his wife would be discussing whether he will do so and could make a decision on that race as soon as today.
His decision to resign emerged over the last few months, he said.
“Family comes first,” Azarian said.
He expressed confidence Salem will be well represented in the House.
“The town still has eight representatives,” he said.
Town Manager Keith Hickey said he was awaiting a copy of Azarian’s resignation letter.
He plans to discuss the town’s options with selectmen when they meet Monday.
Salem voters will go to the polls in November to fill all House seats.
At issue for town officials is whether they should pursue a special election before then.
Hickey said he would brief selectmen after consulting with the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Office.
Azarian had been a leading House advocate for allowing casino gambling in New Hampshire, supporting efforts to establish one at Rockingham Park in Salem. He has touted the economic advantages of a casino to the town.