Atlantic Media's Route Fifty took an in-depth look at the Executive Council and Dan Weeks, who is running to unseat a four-term incumbent and turn the Council blue. The article traces the historical roots of New Hampshire's one-of-a-kind Executive Council – America's "most democratic form of executive government" – as well as Dan's background and the issues at stake in this campaign. Click here to read the full story or read an excerpt below.
Dan Weeks and the Council Today
Dan Weeks is seeking to become one of the council’s five members, each of whom represents one fifth of the state’s population.
If he joins the commission, he will be empowered to vote on every state contract worth more than $10,000. The council meets twice a month to review proposed contracts, and is furnished some 2,000 pages of documentation before each meeting. Cabinet members come to the council chambers to answer questions members may have.
Weeks has the making of a life-long public servant. I met him at a Washington dinner organized by longtime Democratic thinker and activist Frank A. Weil, whose purpose was to celebrate young leaders, in particular U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, a Massachusetts Democrat, an Iraq war veteran who had narrowly beaten a longtime incumbent in 2014 and is looking at another tough race.
Weeks descends from a New Hampshire family steeped in public service. His grandfather, Sinclair Weeks, served in President Eisenhower’s Cabinet, and was credited by Ike for getting the Interstate Highway System up and running. A generation earlier, John W. Weeks served in the U.S. House and Senate before his appointment as Secretary of War in 1921.
The earlier Weeks were Republicans. Dan Weeks is a Democrat, who has devoted much energy to campaign finance reform, and to understanding poverty in America.
On the first issue, he was inspired by the example of Doris Haddock, a New Hampshire activist who set out on a two-year walk across America at the age of 88 to build support for enactment of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law in 2002. As a student at Yale, Weeks organized a campaign, ultimately successful, to reform Connecticut campaign finance laws. Later he helped start and run Issue One and Open Democracy, both devoted to the issue.
At age 18, Weeks signed up with AmeriCorps, then attended Yale and Oxford on scholarships. At Oxford, he met his South African wife, Sindiso, a human rights lawyer and professor. In South Africa, he said, he was exposed to extreme poverty, “people lacking basic needs,” some of them in his wife’s extended family.
Weeks then resolved to learn more about poverty in America and spent more than a year doing so with the help of a 2012-14 fellowship from Harvard ‘s Safra Center for Ethics. He traveled 10,000 miles through 30 states by Greyhound bus, on a poverty-line budget of $16 per day, interviewing people living in poverty. A series he wrote about the experience focused on disenfranchisement of the poor. Titled “Poor (in) Democracy,” it was published by The Atlantic as a series and by Harvard as an ebook.
Weeks, now the father of twins, is now campaigning across the fifth executive council district in southern New Hampshire as he tries to unseat the incumbent council member, David K. Wheeler.