Non-partisan candidate forum to be held Saturday at 2pm, at the New England College in Concord
Since the announcement by Speaker of the House Shawn Jasper that he may be stepping down to fill the role of agriculture commissioner, many Republicans have thrown their hats in the ring for House Speaker. However, while many attended the Freedom Caucus conservative policy-based forum, only a few have agreed to debate other candidates regarding the actual non-partisan role of Speaker, House procedure, or ethics.
In answer to the Freedom Caucus’ forum asking policy questions such as those regarding taxes and abortion, the 55-member NH House Progressive Caucus decided to host a non-partisan candidate forum focusing only on issues of ethics and procedure, with no political questions or litmus tests.
Of the declared candidates, only two Republicans, Rep. James McConnell (North Swanzey), and Rep. Steve Smith (Charlestown) have agreed to participate.
They will be joined by Democratic candidate Stephen Shurtleff (Penacook).
Rep. John Burt (Goffstown), who recently released a letter explaining his walkout at the Freedom Caucus forum, initially had confirmed but cancelled, due to family matters.
Republican candidate Rep. McConnell expressed his enthusiasm for the non-partisan forum, explaining, “I am looking forward to it! I think it’s important that we take advantage of every opportunity to sit down with members of the House and discuss the matters that should be important to all of us. It is important to note that this is only the second opportunity we have had to discuss these things publicly.”
Recognizing the importance of the Speaker’s duties, outgoing Speaker Shawn Jasper notes that, “It is critically important that the Speaker of the House be totally impartial in presiding over the House. Every member deserves the same courtesy as any other. Maintaining decorum of the House that allows debate to be open and free is a really important job.”
“With all the ethical issues and questionable procedures that have occurred in the House in the last few years, I cannot imagine a more important event for anyone seeking to become Speaker. We welcome all the candidates and hope that those who aren’t planning to can find a way to attend”, invited Progressive Caucus convener, Rep. Ellen Read.
The House Speaker Candidate Forum Part II – Ethics and Procedure will be held this Saturday, November 18th at 2:00pm, at the New England College, 62 N. Main Street, Concord. The public is invited to attend, and will have the opportunity to submit questions for the candidates.