Issuing an Election Challenge

By Dan Weeks
June 14, 2016
The Nashua Telegraph

Last Thursday, I officially entered the race for Executive Council to represent the 33 towns of District 5 where I was raised. As a candidate for our state's highest governing body, I owe the people of southern New Hampshire a clear explanation of why I seek this office and the manner in which I intend to serve if elected.

First, I want to acknowledge my opponent's service to our district and state. Over his long political career, Councilor David Wheeler has spent countless hours attending governmental sessions and remained committed to his core, albeit extreme, beliefs. He has been paid very little for his time. For these reasons and more, I will continue to show him my respect throughout this campaign.

Nevertheless, respect and agreement are not the same thing. On issue after issue of local and state concern, the majority of District 5 citizens respectfully disagree with my opponent's positions. More than that, we are concerned about the following negative effects his positions have had on our people, our place, and our democratic process. I am running to chart a different course and ensure that partisan ideology does not trump the public interest in Concord.

Opioid Epidemic: As New Hampshire reels from a heroin and opioid epidemic that claimed over 400 lives last year, my opponent would roll back health insurance and critical drug treatment for some 50,000 Granite Staters in need. Blocking Medicaid expansion, against the wishes of his constituents and even the leaders of his party, squanders both human lives and precious public money, as the cost of emergency room visits by uninsured people far exceeds that of preventive care. His stance leaves a staggering $800 million in federal tax dollars unclaimed - precious public funds already paid by Granite Staters. If elected, I will work to ensure swift and responsible contracting to continue the NH Health Protection Program, as passed by the Legislature and signed into law.

Women's Health: My opponent continues to restrict women's access to basic health care by blocking the appropriate funding for New Hampshire's Planned Parenthood clinics. His votes again contradict the longstanding support of his party and lack a basis in fact: not only are no public funds spent on abortions, but family planning services have been found to reduce the number of abortions and teenage pregnancies, a goal we share. If elected, I will seek and approve the highest-value contracts to continue our longstanding policy of investing in women's health, and continue the fight for gender equity so that my daughter and other young girls enjoy the same opportunities as my son.

Renewable Energy: The health of our people is inextricably linked to the health of our economy and environment. Although my opponent has publicly opposed the Kinder Morgan pipeline on private property grounds, his 2014 statement to the Nashua Chamber of Commerce that he will find ways to make the pipeline work is concerning to residents of the 17 towns through which the pipeline would pass if reintroduced. The threats to our land, health, and safety - not to mention our global climate - cannot be overlooked. If elected, I will continue my strong opposition to unnecessary pipelines and work with businesses and local goverments to bring renewable alternatives to scale, rather than blocking solar projects as my opponent has done.

Rail and Economic Growth: Commuter rail represents the biggest opportunity in a generation to grow our state economy, add 5,600 middle-class jobs, and stem the rapid out-migration of New Hampshire youth. Although three-quarters of our fellow citizens support the Capitol Corridor project, my opponent has been the deciding vote blocking the state from reclaiming millions of our federal tax dollars for that purpose. If I am elected Councilor, I will stand up to such pennywise and pound-foolish practices by approving commuter rail, broadband, and other smart investments to move our state forward in the 21st century.

Good Governance: Finally, I am running because I believe in the democratic process. From my student days at ConVal High School to my work as Executive Director of Open Democracy and the NH Rebellion, I have sought to "walk the talk" for democracy - 30,000 miles and counting. Working with Democrats, Republicans, and independents, I have advocated for greater transparency and against the special interests who fund my opponent's campaign. I will continue to walk the talk by disclosing and capping my campaign donations far below the legal limit, rejecting corporate support, and qualifying for the ballot the grassroots way with hundreds of citizen petitions.

I was raised to believe that politics is not an end in itself but a means to the end of "liberty and justice for all." I believe that public service must come before party and that no person, however long in office, is automatically entitled to the public trust. In the months ahead, I will continue to listen and learn from my fellow citizens in all 33 towns, and work hard to earn their trust as the next executive councilor for District 5.

Daniel Weeks lives in Nashua. He is running as a Democrat for Executive Council in District 5.