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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Nashua facing need to replace another state representative

NASHUA – One day after Democrat Pam Brown was selected via special election to represent Ward 4 in the state House of Representatives, the city learned it is facing another empty seat.

Democratic Rep. Roland LaPlante, one of three representatives serving Ward 8, officially announced his plans to resign Wednesday, citing heath concerns and age. ...

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NASHUA – One day after Democrat Pam Brown was selected via special election to represent Ward 4 in the state House of Representatives, the city learned it is facing another empty seat.

Democratic Rep. Roland LaPlante, one of three representatives serving Ward 8, officially announced his plans to resign Wednesday, citing heath concerns and age.

The 79-year-old lawmaker previously served as a representative more than 30 years ago, and ran for office again in 2008 and 2010. He was elected to the House after a third run in November 2012. LaPlante was not available for comment on the decision Wednesday.

His resignation means the city has to determine whether it wants to pay for another special election this year.

On Tuesday, a special election was held to replace Stacie Laughton, who made history as the first transgendered person to win a seat in the state Legislature, but gave up the job Nov. 29 on a cable access show after news surfaced that she had committed several felonies while living in Laconia under the name Barry Charles Laughton, Jr.

That election was expected to cost the city about $2,000 in wages, postage and miscellaneous supplies. And if a primary and general election are needed, the cost to replace LaPlante could be twice that, according to City Clerk Paul Bergeron.

Bergeron said Wednesday that he had not yet received official confirmation from the state that LaPlante’s position was vacated, but that once that comes through, the Board of Aldermen will have to determine if
they want to hold a special election.

If the board approves an election, they will have to submit a formal request to the governor and Executive Council asking that one be scheduled.

But Bergeron said he will likely recommend to the aldermen that they wait to fill the seat until the regular November city elections.

A special election scheduled now would likely not be held until mid-July, after the current legislative session has ended.

Waiting until November would not significantly impact Ward 8 residents’ representation and would save the city money while also ensuring a bigger voter turnout, he said.

Tuesday’s Ward 4 special election saw only 371 voters, significantly fewer than the typical turnout for a city election and thousands fewer than November’s presidential and state elections, Bergeron said.

“The voters are entitled to their representation, so whatever work it takes to ensure they have that representation is worthwhile, but I do wish that more than 370 people would take an interest in who is going to represent them,” he said.

Board of Aldermen’s President Brian McCarthy said he thought waiting for the November election could be a good option for the city.

While special elections for one ward do not cost a huge amount of money, he said the potential for a higher voter turnout is important.

“There’s no rush to replace somebody who may not even get to Concord until next year anyway,” he said.

If the city does wait to hold the election until the general city election in November, it will come at no extra cost.

If a primary election is required in the fall, or if the aldermen want to hold an election sooner, each election would cost about $2,000.

Danielle Curtis can be reached
at 594-6557 or dcurtis@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Curtis on Twitter (@Telegraph_DC).