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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Candidates for Nashua Ward 4 state rep special election agree jobs a major issue facing Concord

NASHUA – City Clerk Paul Bergeron expects about 400 residents to turn out to vote Tuesday to elect a new state representative in Ward 4.

Starting at 6 a.m. at Ledge Street Elementary School, they’ll get to choose between Republican Elizabeth Van Twuyver, who is re-running for the District 31 House seat after falling short in November, and Democrat Pam Brown, who is new to the race. ...

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NASHUA – City Clerk Paul Bergeron expects about 400 residents to turn out to vote Tuesday to elect a new state representative in Ward 4.

Starting at 6 a.m. at Ledge Street Elementary School, they’ll get to choose between Republican Elizabeth Van Twuyver, who is re-running for the District 31 House seat after falling short in November, and Democrat Pam Brown, who is new to the race.

Whoever wins Tuesday will fill the seat left vacant in Concord when ex-State Rep. elect Stacie Laughton – who would’ve been the state’s first openly transgendered lawmaker – relinquished her post after news surfaced that she had committed several felonies as Barry Charles Laughton Jr. in 2008.

State law prohibits convicted felons from running for or holding office until their final discharge from prison. But legal professionals and political leaders across the state weren’t clear on the definition of “final discharge” at the time.

Laughton later filed to run in the election to fill her vacated seat – which would have prompted a primary between her and Brown on Tuesday – but she bowed out again after the Attorney General Michael Delaney issued an opinion that Laughton was ineligible to run or serve.

Despite the state law barring convicted felons from running for or holding office, the state’s filing process for candidates does not require a criminal background check or ask any questions about criminal history.

This week, The Telegraph requested criminal background searches at district court and Hillsborough County Superior Court for Van Twuyver and Brown.

The search yielded a dismissed restraining order against Brown, filed as a domestic violence petition by a family member who Brown says is mentally ill. Brown was never charged with a crime and the case was dismissed in September.

The search also showed Brown was cited in 2003 for driving with an unregistered vehicle in Nashua.

When contacted about the restraining order, Brown didn’t shy away from it; instead, she showed how it has influenced her psychology studies in college, her career as a mentor/outreach counselor at Manchester’s at WestBridge Community Services, and also her motivations for running in Concord.

“I’ve had problems and I’m facing them,” Brown said. “I’m dealing with them. With such a huge alcohol and prescription drug problem in the state, I just want to be part of the solution and the budget’s been slashed, so there are many people that need help and they have no place to turn.”

Van Twuyver’s background check came back clean.

Van Twuyver, who sits on the Board of Education currently, has named “affordable, excellent,” education and “good paying” jobs as two of her major priorities in running.

Tuesday marks the second time Van Twuyver is up for the District 31 seat, after she garnered 754 votes on Nov. 6, behind Democrats David Cote, Mary Gorman and Laughton.

Brown agreed that “jobs, jobs, jobs” top her list of priorities as well.

Twenty-three of Nashua’s 27 House seats belong to Democrats.

The Board of Aldermen voted unanimously in December to hold a special election to fill Laughton’s vacated seat. It will cost the city approximately $2,175, between officials’ wages, postage and miscellaneous supplies.

Maryalice Gill can be reached at 594-6490 or mgill@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Gill on Twitter (@Telegraph_MAG).