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18 fight for 9 seats in Salem state rep. race

  • 9 min to read

SALEM, N.H. — Eighteen people are vying for the nine representative positions in Rockingham County’s District 8.

There are seven Republican incumbents, two Republican newcomers and nine Democrats seeking office.

Each who responded to The Eagle-Tribune’s survey expressed a commitment to service, wanting to work on legislation to help Salem residents and the state.

Candidates were asked a series of questions about their reason for running and how they would address some of the state’s most pressing issues.

Joe Sweeny (R), Fred Doucette (R),* Bob Elliot (R),* Sean Lewis (D), Greg Davis (D) and Jacqueline Muollo (D) did not return The Eagle-Tribune’s survey.

Incumbents are marked with an asterisk.

18 fight for 9 seats in Salem state Rep. race

John Sytek

John Sytek (R),* 77

Family: Married to Donna for 53 years with an adult daughter

Elected experience: Salem Town Treasurer 1996-present; State Rep. 1991-96 and 2010-present

Education: BS in physics, St. Joseph’s University; Masters from MIT in nuclear engineering

Occupation: Part-time Latin and math teacher at Salem High

Reason for running: I came to New Hampshire by accident but I stayed on purpose. I love and respect the values that make up the New Hampshire advantage. I want to do what I can to preserve it.

COVID-19 response: I think Gov. Chris Sununu has handled the pandemic superbly and is a model for other states. I would support a mask mandate for seriously affected counties.

How should the state increase revenues: Revenues from business and meals & lodging taxes will recover once a vaccine is available. I would be reluctant to raises taxes in the meantime.

Where to trim the state budget: There is so little discretionary spending that it will be a challenge to cut an already lean budget. I will defer to the Governor and the Finance Committee for their recommendations.

How should the state address climate change: In the big picture, New Hampshire’s contributions to climate change are negligible so anything we do on the state level will have minimal impact. Federal regulations will be more effective.

18 fight for 9 seats in Salem state Rep. race

Sara Dillingham

Sara Dillingham (D), 29

Family: Parents live in New Hampshire

Education: Master’s degree in social work with a concentration on social change and innovation from the University of Southern California. Bachelor’s degree in social work and women’s studies with a minor in race, culture, and power from The University of New Hampshire.

Occupation: Social work

Reason for running: I am running for office because I care immensely for Granite Staters and the future of New Hampshire.

COVID-19 response: Under the circumstances, I believe we responded appropriately. Moving forward, we need to solve the financial repercussions, our unemployment crisis, and the all-encompassing ripple effect it has had and will have on New Hampshire residents and our communities.

How should the state increase revenues: I would propose an increase in taxes on cigarette sales. We have not raised taxes on cigarettes since the 1970s. A 1% increase on cigarette sales would be pennies for the consumer, would continue to keep costs low, and would provide added revenue.

Where to trim the state budget: COVID-19 rocked New Hampshire’s already stressed budget and while the 2021 budget is in progress, I want to work with legislators in a bipartisan manner to ensure that we do not trim funds from essential programming and vulnerable populations.

How should the state address climate change: Invest in renewable energy- this would create jobs and boost our economy, safeguard our ecosystem, boost innovation, and protect public health. New Hampshire should steer away from fossil fuels and invest in innovations that would progress us into the future.

Donna Loranger (D), 62

Family: Widowed, no children. I do have a cat!

Education: Bachelor’s degree in organizational management

Occupation: Retired Senior Project Manager

Reason for running: I want to give all the people of Salem a voice in Concord. Public school funding, healthcare, climate crisis and public safety are my main focus.

COVID-19 response: Expanded mandatory mask usage, increased support to offset cost burden from managing COVID-19 in schools and work to pass paid family leave so those in need have a financial safety net if necessary, much like “insurance.”

How should the state increase revenues: New Hampshire needs to legalize and regulate cannabis. Surrounding states are benefitting from the additional revenue generated by cannabis sales and we should too. Expanding the capital gains base will also provide a positive influx of revenue.

Where to trim the state budget: As of now, New Hampshire will end FY2020 with a large deficit, and projections for 2021 are worse. Trimming the budget will be political football during the next session and I want to help ensure the budget will support essential services to all New Hampshire citizens

How should the state address climate change: The climate crisis is real. New Hampshire needs to create a comprehensive climate action plan with timelines and goals. Investing in renewable energy is key. We can address the crisis and stimulate economic development at the same time. We need to act now.

Claire Karibian (D), 77

Family: Married to Julien Karibian for 42 years. Two sons and five grandchildren.

Elected experience: Salem Zoning Board of Adjustment

Education: Hesser Business College

Occupation: Retired from IRS after serving for 30 years.

Reason for running: Salem Democrats must be represented at the State House. We need a lawmaker who will listen to and represent all of Salem and New Hampshire. We need representation that actually will attend the legislative sessions in Concord and vote. I am that person.

Change to the COVID-19 response: Mandate everyone wear masks while out in public places.

How should the state increase revenues: Increase tax on Liquor & Beer and Cigarettes. Legalize marijuana.

Where to trim the state budget: Have employees pay more into their insurance & state retirement benefits. Have them retire using the same formula as the private sector.

How should the state address climate change: Limit the use of fossil fuels such as oil, carbon and natural gas and replace them with renewable and cleaner sources of energy such as electric cars and solar panels.

Everett McBride Jr. (R),* 66

Elected experience: Budget Committee 5 years, Board of Selectman 25 years, Salem NH State Representative 2 years.

Education: High school graduate

Occupation: Sr. Medical Device Research & Development technician

Reason for running: To help maintain the New Hampshire advantage.

COVID-19 response: Change nothing

How should the state increase revenues: We need to become even more competitive. Electric rates are one issue we need to work on.

Where to trim the state budget: Across all departments.

How should the state address climate change: Continue on reducing our carbon footprint.

John Janigian (R),* 62

Family: My wife Mary Ann and three adult daughters

Elected experience: State Representative 2016-2020

Education: Master’s degree in Computer Science, Boston University; Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, Tufts University

Occupation: Real Estate Broker & Property Manager; Previously was Director of Engineering for various tech companies.

Reason for running: Keep the NH advantage — no sales tax and no income tax. Support the 2nd Amendment. Help small businesses. Support police, veterans, seniors, and schools.

COVID-19 response: I think Gov. Chris Sununu has done a good job. We have about 1,000 active cases and about 30 hospitalizations across the entire state. We must take precautions, but continue to re-open businesses smartly to keep New Hampshire safe and the economy strong.

How should the state increase revenues: Continue opening up a business in a safe and smart way. Help businesses thrive by removing red tape. More business will result in collecting more business profits tax. It’s a mistake to increase taxes as some have proposed. That would hurt the economy.

Where to trim the state budget: So far, New Hampshire’s revenue shortfall has been less than originally expected. We will have to wait for final numbers, but we most likely will have to consider all opportunities to reduce spending across state departments.

How should the state address climate change: We can continue to develop alternative energy sources, but we must always be mindful of maintaining a strong economy while moving towards sustainable energy sources. For our national security, we must stay independent of foreign oil.

Maureen Thibault (D), 68

Family: Two grown daughters and four grandchildren

Education: Bachelor’s in U.S. history and Tudor/Stuart England; Master’s degree in education

Occupation: Semi-retired teacher

Reason for running: In order to represent the needs, interests, and desires of the people of Salem. They deserve open-minded and fair representation.

COVID-19 response: I would impose more stringent protocols and make them broader-based.

How should the state increase revenues: By exploring less traditional avenues; perhaps adding capital gains to the business profits tax. Items such as the cigarette and gas taxes have not been revised in a number of years.

Where to trim the state budget: That is very difficult to say because the budget is actually very lean.

How should N.H. address climate change: One — by championing solar and wind. Two — Less use of fossil fuels.3. Begin to move state fleets to hybrid and electric vehicles. Three — Encouraging cities and towns to use solar and wind grids for municipal power.

Cam Iannalfo (D), 32

Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science (Cum Laude - double minor in History and Legal Studies) - UMass Lowell; JD - New England Law Boston; Advanced LL.M. Public International Law (Specialization in Peace, Justice, and Development) - Leiden University Law School

Occupation: U.S. Navy Seabee

Reason for running: It’s an opportunity to use my experience to serve the community and state I love.

COVID-19 response: Without any compromise coming from D.C. in terms of COVID-19 relief, the people of New Hampshire cannot afford to wait any longer. New Hampshire officials need to come together and pass temporary COVID-19 relief for struggling individuals and businesses.

How should the state increase revenues: Through the state regulation of legalized marijuana and expanded casino gambling.

Where to trim the state budget: By opposing any and all unfunded mandates which downshift costs to the local property taxpayer. Maintaining fiscal responsibility through a balanced budget is essential to keeping New Hampshire prosperous.

How should the state address climate change: Aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the promotion of renewable energy generation, encouragement of efficient energy use, and the selling of agriculture carbon sequestration credits.

Betty I. Gay (R)*

Family: Husband John Gay, our two grown children and their families.

Elected experience: Two-term incumbent Salem Representative

Education: Bachelor’s degree in chemistry

Occupation: Retired semiconductor quality engineer, also Salem Observer columnist, Mass Easter Seals fundraiser

Reason for running: Doing something to fix problems feels a lot better than just getting frustrated watching the news.

COVID-19 response: I would ask everyone to wear a mask and keep everything open. Businesses suffered while people were crowded into grocery and building supply stores. I would publicize immune-boosting vitamin D3 and successful treatments of COVID-19 patients.

How should the state increase revenues: Open up the economy so that business taxes can again reach recent soaring heights.

Where to trim the state budget: The state runs a tight ship, but we could cut Medicaid costs by using clean blister-packed medications discontinued for one nursing home resident to be dispensed for another resident on the same meds. And stop the long delays in family courts.

How should the state address climate change: Continue to reduce pollution. Try to get hydroelectric power again, this time with an agreement that would be financially advantageous for N.H. and guarantee enough power for us rather than just providing power transmission to other states.

Daryl Abbas (R),* 36

Family: Married with one child.

Elected experience: State Representative

Education: Juris Doctor

Occupation: Lawyer

Reason for running: As a lawyer, I came across several laws in several areas that weren’t drafted correctly or had errors. I ran because if I was serving I could address it before it becomes law. In my first term, I was able to do just that including helping to fix an error in criminal drug laws where it wasn’t written specific enough for the intention the lawmakers had.

Change to the COVID-19 response: I would have allowed more nonessential businesses to remain open provided the business could demonstrate reasonable measures have been taken to protect its employees and the public from the spread of COVID-19.

How should the state increase revenues: Create an environment that encourages businesses to relocate to New Hampshire. This would grow our economy, bring jobs to New Hampshire and increase revenue from the business profits tax. I imagine this would also boost our already strong real estate market.

Where to trim the state budget: Repeal the Housing Appeals Board that was created when the most recent budget was passed. The Housing Appeals Board was rejected by Republicans and Democrats when presented on its own merits because of its cost and it undermines local control.

How should the state address climate change: Climate change global issue. It’s not a problem New Hampshire can solve on its own. Renewable energy is not cost-efficient and isn’t affordable for low-income families. We need advancements in technology making renewable energy economically viable for everyone.

Bonnie Wright (D), 66

Family: Husband Wayne. Two children, a stepdaughter and four grandchildren.

Elected experience: Chair of the Salem Zoning Board of Adjustment and President of the Salem NH Farmers Market.

Education: College in Vermont at Norwich University and Lyndon State College for music education. New Hampshire Community Technical College for graphics and small business administration.

Occupation: Retired former small business owner, manager and more. I frequently had more than one job at a time.

Reason for running: Salem news someone to represent us in the Democratic caucus. Half of the State Reps don’t get to hear concerns specific to Salem. I’ll be your voice.

COVID-19 response: More of the CARES Act funds should have gone to people and to mental health issues. More transparency: I’m concerned information has been hidden. For half the year I’ve done daily COVID-19 updates to answer the questions Salem Residents have asked.

How should the state increase revenues: Legalize and tax marijuana. We are an island surrounded on every side where marijuana is legal. Let’s keep that revenue here. (Added bonus: It might reduce opioid use, too.) Review business profits taxes for large, multimillion-dollar corporations.

Where to trim the state budget: I’m not a financial expert. I would count on the experts to make recommendations, which I would then carefully study. It will be challenging to make the budget balance, but it must. Concessions will need to be made, but not for mental health.

How should the state address climate change: Reduce the use of fossil fuels. Strive for 100% renewable energy by 2030, Expand net metering. Toughen up pesticide use. Protect our waters. I’m endorsed by Renew New England & other environmental groups.

Susan J. Vandecasteele (R), 53

Family: Two daughters

Education: Graduate Salem High School class of 1986; Entry Level College Classes

Occupation: Automotive customer service and management

Reason for running: I want to preserve the Town of Salem, where I was born and raised, and represent the State of New Hampshire to ensure its motto, “Live Free or Die.”

COVID-19 response: Change absolutely nothing. Gov. Chris Sununu was an outstanding leader and protected all his citizens.

How should the state increase revenues: At this point with COVID-19, we need to remain steadfast with the revenues already in place in order to protect our citizens, local businesses and our state.

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