County government is kind of like referees in sports, you don’t notice it until they do something wrong. We in Carroll County had a good thing going in the first decade of this century at the county level. We even got a state of the art nursing home built on time and under budget. Then came 2010 and the Republican/Tea Party wave. In Carroll County every Democratic candidate lost, including 2009 NH County Commissioner of the Year Chip Albee and Commissioner Dorothy Solomon. Since then we’ve seen complete disarray in our county government. Chip was replaced by Asha Kenney, I think many people thought they were voting for her husband former State Senator Joe Kenney, and we didn’t have any audits done on the the county books the entire 4 years she was in office. We also went through 3 human resource directors and had our credit rating downgraded. She was replaced by another Republican in 2014 who quit after 6 months upon realizing what a mess was left. A replacement was appointed by the County Delegation, our 15 State Representatives, but he plans to move out of the county. This year Chip was again defeated by a Republican with no public service or management experience, because that worked so well before.
We are one of only two NH counties who elect our County Commissioners the way we do, Sullivan county is the other. Our commissioners have to live in 1 of 3 districts but are on the ballot county wide. Thus they have to campaign county wide, roughly the same geographic area as our NH Senate district. That takes 1 of at least 2 things, a lot of money or blind allegiance to a party’s ticket. Jeb Bradley’s NH Senate campaign budget is six figures but not too many people care so much about county government so raising that kind of money is more or less out of the question for county commissioner candidates. Blind allegiance to a party ticket is much easier to attain, especially if you are a Republican. In fact that is the sole reason Commissioner-Elect Mark Hounsell from District 1 gave for his registration as a Republican this year. He has good name recognition in Conway from his years of public service in Mt Washington Valley and figured Conservative in the Lakes Region would vote for him based solely on which side of the ballot his name was on. And he was right. He did little to no campaigning in Wolfeboro or Moultonborough but won both towns handily because why not.
Why do we vote for our county commissioners the way we do? This was brought up 4 years ago by now Commissioner Babson. I was a candidate for commissioner from District 1 that year and asked why its never been changed. I was told it is because the Carroll County GOP thinks they’d never win District 1 again. District 1 is made up of Bartlett, Jackson, Hart’s Location, Conway, Chatham, Eaton and Freedom. Four years ago I lost by about 200 votes in that district to the 14 year Republican incumbent, but lost by thousands when Wolfeboro and Moultonborough votes were counted. It will take an act of the NH Legislature to change our way of electing county commissioners and will likely be blocked by Republicans in the House at the urging of the Carroll County Republicans, who hold 12 of the 15 seats on the Carroll County Delegation. That doesn’t mean we wont try though. If you think the residents of District 1 should choose their county commissioner without Wolfeboro having the final say email or call your State Representatives. Gene Chandlers email address is GeneGChandler@gmail.com and his phone number is 603-374-6603 if you live in Bartlett, Jackson or Hart’s Location.
In the interest of ‘local control‘ I truly believe it is only right that the voters of District 1 elect their county commissioner and as Carroll County Democratic Committee Chairman achieving that is one of my main goals for the next 2 years. Rep. Chandler often tells us how we should defund our county farm because only one other county in NH still has one. Well lets use that logic when it comes to electing county officials in fair way and put aside party loyalty.