One of the goals of the NH Labor News is to help Granite Staters get to know the candidates who are running for office in New Hampshire. We focus on candidates who support working families, particularly those candidates who are working to rebuild the middle class and strengthen our rights as workers.
This week’s focus is on State Senate District 8 candidate Linda Tanner.
Background Information for Rep. Linda Tanner
Linda is longtime community activist, teacher, and coach. Linda has dedicated her entire life to helping others and improving her community. For over 30 years as a teacher and coach at Kearsarge Regional High School, Linda worked tirelessly to help her students succeed in and out of the classroom. During her career at Kearsarge, she served as a Department Chair, worked with the School to Work program and developed a state championship tennis program. She was honored by the NH Interscholastic Athletic Association for her years of service and elected to the NH Coaches Hall of Fame for Girls Tennis. She received her Bachelor of Science in Health Education from East Stroudsburg University and her Masters from Dartmouth College. In 2012 she was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives from Sullivan County, District 9.
As a public school teacher, were you involved with your local union?
I was president of my local association, the Kearsarge Regional Education Association for three terms. I participated on many negotiation teams, worked with members on issues at the local level, and worked with management towards better working conditions. I am a lifetime member of the NEA NH and have their endorsement for this campaign.
As a former teacher, I am sure you have a lot to say about the current public education system. Can you give me two things you would like to see changed? And are these changes that you can enact from the NH Senate?
Public education has been under attack by those who would privatize education, eliminate compulsory education, and eliminate teachers’ unions. I ran for my House seat because I wanted to stop these political maneuvers that were undermining what, I feel, is the most valuable institution for maintaining democracy.
I think there is a great deal we could do to promote and fund our public education system in New Hampshire. I definitely feel the move from the punitive No Child Left Behind to the Common Core is a move that will help students. The Common Core sets standards but does not dictate pedagogy, deals with progress instead of achievement or failure and is the right course towards improvement and consistency. Just like other programs, it needs to be tweaked and re-visited. I would like to see educators who are working in the schools as teachers have a larger input into programs and initiatives.
As a high school teacher, I worked with a school-to-work program for the average student to encourage them towards further education and give some basic instruction in job skills. I taught Health Occupations Co-op for several years. I feel this is a very valuable program that should be expanded to teach not only content but job skills such as being on time, being able to speak to people, shake hands, show respect for co-workers and your product. Recently I visited the Job Corps Training facility in Vermont. We are currently building a facility in Manchester. This type of program, which targets low income youth, is vital to providing vocational training in a setting that also emphasizes those job skills. It gives an opportunity for young people to better their position and at the same time provide workers for key jobs in our State.
As a Senator I will work to help New Hampshire schools become a model system that supports innovation, is relevant to the world of work and careers, and maintains rigorous standards for all school children.
You are running for the NH Senate Seat in District 8 that is currently held by Sen. Bob Odell. In what ways are you similar or different from Sen. Odell?
I found my voting aligned in many areas with Senator Odell. I voted to repeal the death penalty, expand Medicaid, and deal with the issues around the Medical Enhancement Tax. However, Senator Odell voted against returning the period for teachers to be fired without cause or hearing from 5 to 3 years, voted against medical marijuana, and voted for the repeal of automatic continuation requirement for public employees’ collective bargaining agreements. These are three examples of bills he opposed that I would have supported.
This Senate seat has been, under Senator Odell, a moderate vote in a 13 to 11 Republican majority. My election to the seat will balance the parties at 12 all, which would make a major shift – especially on Labor issues. Medicaid expansion has a clause that requires renewal during this next session. Both Republican candidates have stated that they will try to repeal the Medicaid expansion, fight ‘Obama Care,’ and make NH a ‘Right to Work State’ as a priority. If either of the candidates opposing me wins this seat: Medicaid will be repealed, leaving thousands without medical insurance; and ‘Right to Work” for less will be passed along with other legislation that will hurt working men and women.
The current minimum wage is $7.25 and the GOP-led legislature repealed the NH Minimum Wage law. What would you do as Senator to help push NH toward a real living wage? Last year, one proposal was to raise the state minimum wage over two years to $9.00/hour. Do you think $9.00 is the right number? Or do you think it should be $10.10 as the POTUS is pushing, or even higher?
First, we need to reinstate a NH Minimum wage that was repealed under the Republican leadership of Speaker O’Brien. I served on the House Labor Committee in this past term. The bill that was introduced should be reintroduced in this next term. This bill offered modest increases over time and originally had a provision for further increases based on economic indicators. I think we need to have a bill that will pass both The House and Senate. I hope to be one of those Senators to move this piece of legislation forward.
Do you have any legislation that you would like to see or have ideas on proposing if you are elected?
I want to defend against the so called ‘right to work’ bills. If those bills pass it will let non-union workers benefit from our hard work in negotiations without paying their fair share. It’s a union-busting tactic.
I want to ensure fairness in workers’ compensation laws for those hurt on the job – so if they can’t work, they will still be able to keep their homes and survive. At the same time, I want to see how we can reduce the rate for employers. I want to establish a minimum wage and increase it above the present $7.25 so everyone has the dignity of a decent wage. I want to protect workers from pay cards and title loans that are stripping away hard earned money with excessive fees and astronomical interest rates. I want to offer solutions for the current lack of affordable and accessible elderly and work force housing.
If you could pick one issue from your campaign to highlight, what issue would that be?
I am a person who is running for this Senate seat not to be someone special or advance a radical agenda but to work on legislation that will help the working men and women of this State. I taught for 35 years in the NH public schools and over that time, you see the communities, the State, through the lives of your students. I know the successes, the struggles, and the heartbreaking issues many of our citizens face. I want to be their voice in the Legislature.
Why should the labor community support your campaign?
I am a lifelong union member. As a teacher for 35 years and continuing through retirement, I have been a member of the National Education Association. During my years at Kearsarge Regional High School, I was President of my local for three terms. I served on many negotiations and collective bargaining teams working for high quality education, good working conditions, livable salaries and benefits. I proudly served as a State Representative for Sullivan County and as a member of the House Labor Committee. I have the experience, knowledge and the political will to help the working men and women our State.
What can people do to help your campaign?
I can’t win this election alone. The opposition is well-funded and as committed to winning this seat as we are. I need your help to win this election. I need your vote and I need you to talk with family, friends, co-workers and neighbors to urge them to vote for me. Also, with this large, rural district, we need funds for mailings, ads, and signs. Any amount you can send to us will help us get our message out.
Please see our website lindatanner.org for more information