Woodburn should resign

In recent weeks, state Sen. Jeff Woodburn, a Democrat from Whitefield, has been making the rounds in his bid for re-election to District 1. One of his recent stops was at The Telegraph, sitting down with several of his party counterparts to discuss key issues that could impact the 2018 General Election.

One of his recurring themes was the need to see the state’s two parties come together for the good of New Hampshire, with him offering harsh criticism of Republicans for their failure to effect change this legislative session. He said he hoped for better for the Granite State.

Perhaps his arrest Thursday has moved the needle in that direction, but certainly not in the way Woodburn had outlined for our newspaper’s editorial board. By nightfall Thursday, there was a bipartisan rally cry for the minority leader of the Senate Democratic caucus to resign.

He thus far has refused, saying he will fight the charges, which include simple assault, domestic violence and criminal mischief stemming from encounters that took place both last year and this year, according to Associated Press reports.

Woodburn is “accused of slapping the unidentified woman and punching her in the stomach, as well as biting her once on the hand, and on another occasion, on the forearm,” AP coverage states. He is scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 20 in Lancaster.

We certainly believe everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Woodburn deserves that same right as a Granite Stater and U.S. citizen. However, as an elected official who has sworn an oath of office, we have to question why he has chosen to remain in his position while fighting these allegations, putting perhaps his personal interest above the good of his constituency and the state.

To recap the AP’s roundup of political opinion:

The New Hampshire Democratic Party urged him to resign, as did the state’s Democratic congressional delegation and members of the state Senate Democratic Caucus.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu tweeted that the allegations were “morally reprehensible” and also said Woodburn should step down.

State Republican Party Chairman Wayne MacDonald questioned how long the Democratic Party had known about the allegations.

The latter is an excellent point. Should these allegations prove to be founded, who knew what and when, indeed? Further, what responsibility did anyone in a position of authority within the Democratic Party have to bring such information forward, if not by legal obligation than by moral responsibility and voter accountability?

If such accountability is expected in college football, why then should our political leaders be held to any less of a standard of reporting? Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday, after reports Meyer knew one of his coaches engaged in repeated incidents of domestic violence – and Meyer didn’t do enough to stop it.

As a society, we must say enough is enough and stop protecting individuals in power who use physical and/or sexual violence to harm and control others.

Woodburn is running unopposed in the upcoming Sept. 11 primary, as is Republican David Starr of Franconia, a retired former BAE engineer. Conceivably, the two will go on to meet in the general election, if Woodburn fails to resign.

We join New Hampshire leaders in asking Woodburn to resign. Should he fail to step down, we hope voters will make the decision for him and block his bid for re-election in November.