By Editorial Board
Keene Sentinel
October 25, 2016

In the races for the two N.H. Executive Council seats representing parts of the Monadnock Region, we endorse Andru Volinsky of Concord in District 2, which covers Keene and the northern part of the region, and Dan Weeks in District 5, representing the southern half.

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The council’s five members serve as a check on the power of the governor, especially in financial matters and the appointment process. They do not have any say in overturning a veto or deciding matters of state law; they do, however, wield considerable power in controlling major expenditures. In that fashion the council has had final say over whether the state uses Planned Parenthood to provide women’s health services, whether the contracts at the heart of expanded Medicaid services are executed and the future of commuter rail service through the heart of the state.

It’s also in this area we find a key difference between District 5 Councilor David Wheeler of Milford and challenger Dan Weeks of Nashua.

Wheeler has served in the N.H. House and Senate, and on the council previously. He’s knowledgeable and serious about the role and not shy about putting in the required effort. But asked if he sees the position as one of making policy, Wheeler said it is. In fact, he said his vote against the expansion of Medicaid services, which has extended access to health care to tens of thousands of Granite Staters, was because he opposes the Affordable Care Act. Wheeler also gave us a reasoned explanation of why the state should not fund Planned Parenthood services — after prefacing it by saying he would never vote for that agency to receive funding because he’s pro-life.

We feel that sort of ideological-driven decision-making is the wrong approach to the job in any case, but particularly dangerous when members of a five-member council see the job as some sort of super-Legislature, being able to strong-arm policy by overriding or side-stepping the lawmaking process.

Weeks strikes us as equally strong on matters of policy, but cognizant of the council’s actual role. The ConVal grad attended Yale and Oxford, served with AmeriCorps and was the executive director of the group Open Democracy until entering this race. He strikes us as not only bright and energetic, but also more than capable of reviewing and understanding the reams of paperwork required of a councilor.

Despite his ideological underpinnings, Weeks says he’ll be able to review and approve contracts and make appointments based on their value to the state rather than his own preferences.

That’s the approach voters should be looking for in council candidates. And that’s why Volinsky and Weeks are the better choices.

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