Telegraph endorses Avard, Rosenwald and Wheeler

New Hampshire is a state steeped in tradition, proud of its politics and its people. It has distinguishing itself as a forerunner in setting the tone for presidential elections and having the record for the largest state legislature in the United States at 424 lawmakers.

Election Day may bring a rush of excitement, but we know Granite Staters remain hyper-connected watchdogs to ensure their state representatives and senators do the work of the people. Such an intensive time commitment is a lot to ask of these elected officials, especially because they are compensated only $200 per two-year term of service and receive $0 per diem for expenses.

To put that in perspective, it equates to a mere $42,400 for the entire Legislature per year – compared to more than $71,000 plus nearly $11,000 annually for expenses for each of their counterparts in Michigan. Clearly, those who run for office in New Hampshire aren’t doing so for the money.

It is an important and often thankless job, and we salute all those who brave this political gauntlet to serve at the will of their constituents. This is a duty state senators have braved since 1784, when the legislative body was established. Unlike the House, which encompasses the majority of the state’s legislators, the Senate only has 24 members.

It is impossible to get lost in the sea of cohorts, to hide from core issues and controversy, and to escape public scrutiny in the Senate. Navigating this fierce battleground, where many pieces of legislation become casualties of partisan caucuses, takes skill. All 24 senators are up for re-election this year, churning on the same expedited cycle as the state’s gubernatorial race.

New Hampshire election cycles are fast and furious. They also are why experience can give solid legislators an edge over their challengers. That is why The Telegraph endorses incumbent Kevin Avard, R-District 12, and longtime legislator Cindy Rosenwald, D-District 13, in their contested state Senate races.

New Hampshire Senate – District 12

Avard most recently has served as chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources as well as the Rules, Enrolled Bills and Internal Affairs committees and vice chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee. His tenure and leadership on those committees directly influences areas impacting Greater Nashua, including such critical concerns as cost of electricity, economic development and the opioid epidemic.

The seat represents Hollis, Brookline, Greenville, New Ipswich, Mason, Rindge and Nashua Wards 1, 2, and 5. Avard has expressed support for commuter rail service to the region, renewable energy, strategic funding to address the state’s drug crisis and the proposed Performing Arts Center slated for downtown Nashua. He’s been willing to engage in bi-partisan compromise to advance key initiatives for the betterment of his district and the state.

His opponent, Melanie Levesque, a longtime Brookline resident and former three-term state representative, is warm and engaging. The Democratic challenger has a solid background as a local businesswoman and previous political service. Though all strong qualities, Avard has earned our nod, even though we would like to see him enhance his responsiveness and connectivity to constituents should he win re-election.

New Hampshire Senate – District 13

In District 13, incumbent Democrat Bette Lasky’s planned vacancy paves the way for Rosenwald, a seven-term state representative from Nashua’s Ward 3. District 13 is unique in that it only includes the following portions of Nashua: Wards 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 9. All other districts represent at least portions of more than one city.

Rosenwald, of Nashua, knows both the city and the state well. She served as Deputy Democratic Leader of the state House and as a member of the Finance Committee and chairwoman of the Health and Human Services and Elderly Affairs committees.

Like Avard, Rosenwald has indicated support for commuter rail and the Performing Arts Center and worked tirelessly to tackle the state’s opioid epidemic. Her efforts with regard to Medicaid expansion and her reputation as a staunch, nationally recognized advocate of innovative health care solutions give her a distinctive edge over Republican challenger David Schoneman, a two-term Nashua alderman, a role in which he’s been successful.

Though they both tout a willingness for open-minded cooperation regardless of party affiliation, Rosenwald has a proven track record of such collaboration on a statewide stage. With her background in education, we would like to see Rosenwald expand her laser focus from not only the arts and health care, but also economic development and energy to advocate for growth and fiscal conservancy. Her transition into Lasky’s seat would provide the strongest representation for the district.

New Hampshire Executive Council

It is with that strength of leadership in mind that we turn to the state’s Executive Council, also unique in the U.S. to New Hampshire. Dating back to the king’s court of England, the five-member Executive Council controls money, budget and appointments to state offices that include the courts. Incumbent Republican David Wheeler, of Milford, and Democrat Deborah Pignatelli, of Nashua, both have extensive state legislative experience and have traded wins for this Executive Council seat over the years.

Pignatelli is known more for her polished, poised approach, and we understand Wheeler has a very direct tact. However, that has served him well when examining and scrutinizing the budget. His more reserved approach to financial matters has served the state and his region well this past term, as has the Republicans’ 3-to-2 majority on the council, thus earning Wheeler our support in his re-election bid.

We encourage readers to vote in Tuesday’s election and to cast ballots where applicable for Avard, Rosenwald and Wheeler.