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Breaking: Governor Sununu Considered Free State Project Member Jody Underwood for NH Education Commissioner*

*According to Free Stater Jody Underwood, she was under consideration for NH Education Commissioner 

New Hampshire deserves to know if Frank Edelblut will consider her for any division director openings at Department of Education – at the same time her family is pushing for New Hampshire to secede from the rest of the country

From Wikipedia CC

MANCHESTER, NH – Free State Project member Jody Underwood claims she was considered for the position of NH Commissioner of Education. Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins: 

“Governor Sununu should answer whether he considered Jody Underwood for the position of NH Commissioner of Education, and whether he or current nominee Frank Edelblut plan to consider her for any open division director appointments. Underwood is part of an extreme political movement with a stated mission to take over state government and dismantle it, and her husband is actively organizing for New Hampshire to secede from the rest of the country. Governor Sununu is playing dangerous games with New Hampshire’s future. Did Governor Sununu actually consider her for the role and does Frank Edelblut plan to work closely with her as he has in the past? Both Jody Underwood and her husband testified in support of Frank Edelblut for Education Commissioner at the Executive Council public hearing.”

Free State Project member Jody Underwood claims she was considered for NH Education Commissioner. Underwood made the claim in the description for a workshop she gave at the Free State Project’s NH Liberty Forum in Manchester this past weekend. The workshop “We don’t need no stinkin’ leaders: Getting things done in the world of NH Education” (sic) was held Saturday, February 4th at 4:00 PM. The last line of the workshop description – which was likely written before Sununu announced Edelblut – states: “I now find myself being considered for the position of NH Commissioner of Education. How does that happen, especially to someone who isn’t particularly political? Maybe I am a leader. Come find out.” http://nhlibertyforum.com/schedule/ Sat Feb 4 4:00 PM 

According to the Free State Project, the Underwoods moved to New Hampshire with the Free State Project in 2007 as “early movers” – the FSP’s most ardent supporters who moved early. Jody Underwood served on the FSP board of directors until last summer. She is currently a school board member in Croydon and brought a lawsuit against the NH Department of Education.

https://freestateproject.org/blogs/mover-stories/early-movers-education 

Underwood’s husband Ian – who also testified in support of Frank Edelblut – also hosted a workshop at the event. Title: “A Case for New Hampshire Independence.” Description: “The goal of the Foundation for New Hampshire Independence, a 501c3 nonprofit, is to educate Granite Staters about the benefits of the ‘Live Free or Die’ state peacefully declaring its independence and separating from the federal government of the United States. Join FNHI board members Ian Underwood of Bardo Project and Carla Gericke, president of FNHI, to discuss what the future of New Hampshire could look like as an autonomous state.” http://nhlibertyforum.com/schedule/ Fri Feb 3 10:00 AM (Carla Gericke is the former President of the Free State Project – she also testified in support of Frank Edelblut) 

Frank Edelblut has a history of involvement with the Free State Project. As recently as last summer, Edelblut participated in a panel at the Free State Project’s annual PorcFest. The workshop was titled “Exploring Your Child’s Educational Fit” and the description read: “This group of experienced parents have directed their children’s educations. Come hear their experiences with homeschooling, charter schools, private schools, and online education.” The workshop notably does not include traditional public education as a potential educational fit, nor does it include any perspectives from a traditional public education family. The panel was moderated by Jody Underwood and Frank Edelblut participated as a panelist.

https://freestateproject.org/blogs/education-activism-track-porcfest-xiii-exceptional-dont-miss-it

About the Free State Project. A decade ago, the ultra-extreme Free State Project voted on a state to move 20,000 libertarians to, with the stated purpose to take over state government and dismantle it. New Hampshire was unfortunately the unlucky recipient of that vote. The Free State Project seeks to create a libertarian “utopia” void of public infrastructure and common laws, and to use their numbers to dramatically change New Hampshire. The Free State Project even threatens to secede from the rest of the country once it meets its initial goals: 

“Once we’ve taken over the state government, we can slash state and local budgets, which make up a sizeable proportion of the tax and regulatory burden we face every day. Furthermore, we can eliminate substantial federal interference by refusing to take highway funds and the strings attached to them. Once we’ve accomplished these things, we can bargain with the national government over reducing the role of the national government in our state. We can use the threat of secession as leverage to do this.”

          Announcement:
The Free State Project
 by Founder Jason Sorens

Granite State Progress has monitored the Free State Project since 2008, particularly its attempts to field candidates and disrupt public policy.

NH House Committee Approves Overturning 94 Year Old Concealed Carry Law

Granite State Progress Statement on NH House Committee Vote to Allow Dangerous People to Legally Carry Hidden, Loaded Weapons (SB 12)

House Committee votes to overturn 94 year old New Hampshire public safety law 

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire House Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee held a public hearing and executive session today on SB 12, which seeks to repeal a 94 year old concealed carry licensing law that helps prevent dangerous people from being able to legally carry hidden, loaded weapons. Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“New Hampshire is opening the door to allow dangerous individuals with a track record of violence to legally carry hidden, loaded weapons. It is reasonable to deny concealed carry permits to those who are a danger to themselves or others. Requiring a license to carry a concealed weapon has worked well for New Hampshire for more than 90 years. These licenses are very easy and quick to obtain and do not place an unreasonable burden on law abiding citizens. SB 12 is a radical piece of legislation that will jeopardize public safety. The common sense law we have in place now allows local police departments to deny a license when there is reason to believe a person is a danger to themselves or others. For example, if an individual in a community is a known domestic abuser but has yet to be indicted, or has a hot temper and a habit of getting into bar fights, New Hampshire thankfully provides our local police departments with the ability to reject their concealed carry application.” 

In testimony Granite State Progress called on state legislators to decide whether they stand on the side of law enforcement and public safety – or with those like Mark Doyon, whose concealed carry license denial was upheld in court:

“In a 2014 NH Supreme Court case, an individual named Mark Doyon sued the town of Hooksett for denying his concealed carry license. Doyon had a prior criminal threatening conviction and an arrest for domestic violence, among other things. He told a Manchester police officer, “If you f.-k with my dog, I’ll f.-king kill you.”  The NH Supreme Court noted that on his domestic violence-related simple assault charge: “As part of a negotiated agreement, the town placed the charge on file without a finding, and a criminal bail protective order was entered against the petitioner prohibiting him from contacting the complainant.” On paper, Doyon was not a prohibited person, but in real life, he was not a suitable person to carry a hidden, loaded weapon. The courts sided with the local police department. As members of the committee, you need to decide whether you stand on the side of someone like Doyon, or whether you stand with the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police and other law enforcement who have spoken out against this repeal repeatedly over the years.” 

In addition to local law enforcement opposition, in 2004 Senate President Chuck Morse and several Republicans voted against a similar repeal bill. A copy of Granite State Progress testimony in opposition to SB 12 is available upon request, along with more information about how concealed carry laws work. It also includes recommendations for ways New Hampshire can strengthen public safety laws, rather than weakening them.

Republicans In NH Senate Vote To Make NH Less Safe, Repeal 94 Year Old Conceal Carry Permit Law

The New Hampshire State Senate voted on party lines today to pass SB 12, which seeks to repeal a 94 year old concealed carry licensing law that helps prevent dangerous people from being able to legally carry hidden, loaded weapons. 

The bill was opposed by gun violence protection groups as well as many of New Hampshire’s law enforcement.  The New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police testified against a similar piece of legislation last session, and in 2004 Senate President Chuck Morse and several Republicans voted against a similar repeal bill.

“SB 12 is another attempt by the gun lobby to allow anyone in New Hampshire to legally carry a hidden, loaded handgun. Requiring a license to carry a concealed weapon has worked well for New Hampshire for more than 90 years. These licenses are very easy and quick to obtain and do not place an unreasonable burden on law abiding citizens. SB 12 is a radical piece of legislation that will jeopardize public safety. The common sense law we have in place now allows local police departments to deny a license when there is reason to believe a person is a danger to themselves or others. For example, if an individual in a community is a known domestic abuser but has yet to be indicted, or has a hot temper and a habit of getting into bar fights, New Hampshire thankfully provides our local police departments with the ability to reject their concealed carry application. With this vote, New Hampshire is opening the door to allow dangerous individuals with a track record of violence to legally carry hidden, loaded weapons,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. 

Sen. Bette Lasky (D-Nashua) released the following statement after passage of the bill: 

“For decades, New Hampshire’s concealed carry permitting law has effectively safeguarded our Second Amendment rights while helping to keep New Hampshire one of the safest states in the nation. Repeal of the common sense measures outlined in this law will make it harder for law enforcement to do their jobs and needlessly put the people of New Hampshire at higher risk,” said Senator Lasky, Vice Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senate Democrats offered two amendments to address flaws in SB 12. Senator David Watters (D-Dover) introduced an amendment that would clarify the language of the bill to allow Fish and Game to do their jobs to monitor poaching in the state. Senator Bette Lasky (D-Nashua) introduced an amendment to require background checks for gun owners applying for concealed carry permits. Both amendments were defeated along party lines.

“Given the ramifications of this legislation, I’m concerned that Governor Sununu and Senate Republicans are rushing this legislation so quickly through the legislature and I’m disappointed by the outcome of today’s vote.”

Granite State Progress Calls on Governor Sununu, Majority Leader Hinch to Name At Least 5 Businesses That Will Move to NH If Right to Work Passes

CONCORD, NH – Granite State Progress is calling on Governor Chris Sununu and House Republican Majority Leader Dick Hinch to name at least five businesses that will move to New Hampshire if so-called Right to Work passes. Both politicians made statements during last week’s inauguration and interviews that passing Right to Work is important for business development and that businesses will move to the state upon passage. However, when media outlets questioned NH Speaker Bill O’Brien over the same claim in 2011 he was unable to name even a single business. Instead, both NH’s Commissioner of Labor and NH’s Commissioner of Resources and Economic Development at the time confirmed that not a single business had asked about the legislation:

Union Leader, Businesses are not asking for the right-to-work bill by George Copadis, NH Commissioner of Labor: “Not once has the topic of right-to-work ever come up in all of [their] discussions with New Hampshire businesses and prospective businesses.” [5.24.11]

“Right to Work is wrong for working families and its wrong for New Hampshire,” said Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins. “This is nothing more than an attempt to undermine workers’ rights and create another hurdle for working families to come together to negotiate for good jobs with reasonable wages and benefits, job safety, and job training. The politicians and special interest backers pushing this policy should instead support raising wages, end off-shoring of our jobs, and pass family-friendly workplace policies that respect the contributions workers bring to increasing profits in our country.”

Senate Bill 11, this year’s version of so-called Right to Work, is up for a public hearing on Tuesday, January 10th at 1:00 pm in Representatives Hall in Concord. Granite State Progress is publicly calling on Governor Sununu and Majority Leader Hinch to release a list of the companies they purport will bring jobs to New Hampshire if the state passes legislation that hurts working families.

Convicted Domestic Abuser Placed In Leadership Of NH House Committe That Oversees DV Laws

GOP Lawmaker Convicted of Domestic Violence Named Vice Chair of NH House Committee That Oversees DV Laws 

Rep. Frank Sapereto (R-Derry) was convicted of simple assault in 2013 and has twice sponsored legislation to weaken New Hampshire’s simple assault laws

Concord, NH – Convicted GOP lawmaker Frank Sapereto (R-Derry) was named the Vice Chair of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee yesterday afternoon. The committee hears all domestic violence and sexual assault legislation; Rep. Sapereto was convicted of simple assault in 2013 and has twice attempted to weaken New Hampshire’s simple assault laws, in 2013 and 2014. 

“An individual convicted of domestic violence should not hold a leadership position on the very committee that will determine domestic violence laws in our state,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “In addition to his own conviction, Rep. Sapareto has twice sponsored legislation to weaken New Hampshire’s simple assault law, even though domestic violence advocates and law enforcement have repeatedly warned that doing so would empower bullies and abusers. This appointment also raises serious questions about how comfortable domestic violence survivors will be participating in committee hearings under his leadership.” 

“I’m very disappointed in this decision by the Speaker,” said Raymond Buckley, Chair of the NH Democratic Party. “Appointing someone with a criminal record to chair the Criminal Justice committee would be inappropriate in any circumstances, but to do it in exchange for an endorsement is reprehensible.”

In 2013, now-former State Rep. Mark Warden (R-Goffstown) spoke in support of Sapareto’s bill to weaken simple assault laws, stating that “a lot of people like being in abusive relationships” and “are always free to leave.” In a media interview that same year, Sapareto stated that the state court system had handled 8,417 misdemeanor assault cases the previous year and that his bill made sense because no one was seriously hurt in at least half of those cases. WCAX reported that House Speaker Shawn Jasper “says he offered Sapareto the job to win his backing for the speakership, which Sapareto also sought.”

According to the most recent report from the Governor’s Commission on Domestic and Sexual Abuse Domestic Violence, domestic violence was a causal factor in 83% of the murder/suicides in New Hampshire during the 2014-2015 biennium. 


Related Reading:

  • Russman Law, NH Considers a Bill to Reduce Simple Assault from a Misdemeanor to a Violation, October 29, 2013
  • Eagle Tribune, Derry lawmaker fights assault conviction, April 12, 2013
  • HuffPo, Mark Warden, New Hampshire State Legislator, Says People May Like ‘Being In Abusive Relationships’, February 27, 2013 (includes Concord Monitor story and Granite State Progress video)
  • WCAX, Rep convicted of misdemeanor given top criminal justice post, December 20, 2016
  • Governor’s Commission on Domestic and Sexual Abuse Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committee’s 11th Report, September 2016

New Poll Shows Gun Violence Prevention is Key Issue for NH Voters; Most State House Candidates Have a Record on Background Checks

On Friday, the Center for American Progress Action Fund released new polling, conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP), of voters in Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. In the six battleground states, voters across the aisle expressed strong support for commonsense gun safety legislation, finding that candidates who endorse these policies are set to perform well on Election Day.

nh-ayotte-background-checks-pollIn New Hampshire, 42% of likely voters were LESS likely to vote for Kelly Ayotte because of her opposition to comprehensive background checks on gun sales. Only 14% were more likely to vote for Ayotte because of her position. Additionally, the poll found strong support from Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike for a number of gun violence prevention policies, and also that voters are more likely to vote for state legislators who support expanded background checks.

Of the 705 State House candidates on the ballot tomorrow, 307 of them already have a vote record on background checks. Granite State Progress compiled those votes from the past two legislative sessions and matched them with this year’s State House candidate list — take a look and see whether your State House candidates side with the gun lobby like U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte, or with the overwhelming majority of Granite Staters who support common sense gun violence prevention.

GSP Brief: NH State House Candidates on Background Checks, 2016

GSP Brief: NH State House Candidates on Background Checks, 2016

 

 

Granite State Progress Releases List of 30+ Free State Project Candidates Running for State Legislature

Free State Project members running for political office often hide or deny their FSP affiliation; Granite State Progress’ Free State Project Watch exposes those connections

Concord, NH – Granite State Progress released a list of more than 30 Free State Project members running for the New Hampshire state legislature, including two State Senate candidates and dozens of House candidates.

“Granite State Progress has been tracking the Free State Project and its influence since 2008, paying particular attention to Free Stater activity in elections and legislation,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “Free State Project members running for political office often hide or deny their FSP affiliation from voters and downplay their extreme beliefs when asked. To challenge this, Granite State Progress researches and compiles a list of Free State Project candidates running for office so voters know about the extreme affiliation of those candidates.”

New Hampshire’s role started more than a decade ago when the ultra-extreme Free State Project voted on a state to move 20,000 libertarians to with the stated purpose to take over state government and dismantle it, and New Hampshire was the unlucky recipient of that vote. The Free State Project seeks to create a libertarian “utopia” void of public infrastructure and common laws, and to use their numbers to dramatically change New Hampshire. The Free State Project even threatens to secede from the rest of the country once it meets its initial goals:

“Once we’ve taken over the state government, we can slash state and local budgets, which make up a sizeable proportion of the tax and regulatory burden we face every day. Furthermore, we can eliminate substantial federal interference by refusing to take highway funds and the strings attached to them. Once we’ve accomplished these things, we can bargain with the national government over reducing the role of the national government in our state. We can use the threat of secession as leverage to do this.” – Announcement:
The Free State Project by Founder Jason Sorens

To date, the Free State Project has recruited more than 20,000 people to sign the pledge to move to New Hampshire, hitting their goal to “Trigger the Move” – all those who signed up are supposed to start moving once the agreed upon goal was met. More than 2,015 people have already moved.

“Free State Project members sign a pledge to move to New Hampshire and work to change the way of life in our state. They do not move here for a job, or for family, or even because they like what New Hampshire has to offer. Instead, they move here because a political group they are affiliated with voted on a state to move to and take over, and New Hampshire is the unlucky recipient of that vote,” Rice Hawkins said. “It is not surprising that so many Free Staters run for public office. Free State Project members uproot their families and move to New Hampshire purely to enact a political agenda, and running for office only further helps them reach that goal. Local communities who have dealt with them first-hand know how extreme their ideology can be, and that’s why we’ve seen push back from both Republicans and Democrats to expose them.”

The Free State Project candidate list is part of the Free State Project Watch of Granite State Progress, and can be found online at https://freestateprojectwatch.org/. The website includes the candidate list as well as individual candidate profiles.

Granite State Progress released similar candidate lists in 2012 and 2014. Members of the media and public are encouraged to ask FSP candidates whether they disclose their Free State Project affiliation in campaign materials and if not, why.

New Report Shows Senator Ayotte’s Office Is Worse Than National Average On Pay Equity

Women Earned Only 66 Cents for Every Dollar Men Earned in U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte’s Office, According to New Report

 In contrast, Governor Maggie Hassan and Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s offices are exemplars of equal treatment 

CONCORD, NH – A new report by Granite State Progress shows that women earned only 66 cents for every dollar men earned in U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte’s office. In contrast, women in Governor Maggie Hassan and U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s offices earned exactly or close to a dollar for every dollar men earned in years reviewed. Women also serve in several leadership roles in the offices of Hassan and Shaheen’s offices, while the majority of Ayotte’s top paid staff members year after year are men. Key findings from the report:

Women earned only 66 cents for every dollar men earned in Kelly Ayotte’s Senate office – and even earned less than their male counterparts with the exact same job title. 

  • Women earned an average of $50,060.46 from 2012-2015, whereas men for the same period earned an average of $75,703.52.
  • Women working for Sen. Ayotte have only fared worse the longer she has been in office; in FY 2012, Senator Ayotte’s first full year in office, women earned 72 cents for every dollar men earned.
  • This pay gap exists at all levels in the Senator’s office: In FY 2015, a female with the title of Staff Assistant earned $18,183.19 annually, whereas a male with the same title earned $32,360.96 annually – nearly twice as much as a woman with the same job title. In FY 2013, a male with the title of Legislative Assistant (LA) earned $79,999.92 annually, whereas a female LA that same year earned only $60,000 – a 33 percent pay gap, or 75 cents for every dollar the male LA makes.
  • Senator Ayotte consistently employs men for the most senior roles in her office. In all years but one, the four highest paid employees in her office have been men. Women are consistently underrepresented in her office. 

In contrast, women fare much better under U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen.

  • Women earned an average of $61,530.91 from 2012-15, whereas men for the same period earned an average of $61,131.15 –  virtually no pay gap at all.
  • Women are also well-represented in senior roles in Senator Shaheen’s office; in every year reviewed, women held at least 2 of the 4 highest paid positions in the Senator’s office.

Governor Maggie Hassan – a vocal proponent of equal pay and signer of the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act – also has women well-represented in senior roles and virtually no pay gap in her office. 

  • Women who worked for Governor Hassan earned an average of $38,295.14 from 2013-15, whereas men for the same period earned an average of $38,313.74 – virtually no pay gap at all.
  • Women are also well-represented in senior roles in Governor Hassan’s office; in every year reviewed, women held at least 2 or 3 of the 4 highest paid positions in the Governor’s office.

The data on Senator Shaheen and Ayotte came from Legistorm, which collects publicly available data, and only those employed for a full fiscal year were included in this analysis. The data on Governor Maggie Hassan was gleaned from publicly available information by calendar year, without any indication as to if the person was employed for the full or partial year. 

The staff salary differences reflect the legislative record of each of the public officials: Senator Shaheen and Governor Hassan are strong proponents of equal pay, with Hassan signing the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act into law in 2014 and regularly issuing Equal Pay Day proclamations. Meanwhile, Senator Ayotte voted against the federal Paycheck Fairness Act – a bill that would strengthen federal equal pay laws, and protect employees who speak up about unequal pay – four times.

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“Women have made great strides in achieving success in the workplace, breaking through multiple glass ceilings to get there and achieving parity in many ways. However, women today still face a wage gap that hurts their families in the form of lower salaries, decreased benefits, and smaller retirements. In 2015, women, on average, earned just 79 cents for every dollar men earned, and that pay disparity is even worse for women of color. For mothers, of whom 40 percent are the sole or primary breadwinner in their family, a mother earns only 71 cents for every dollar fathers earn. 

“The wage gap is impacted by the many discriminatory barriers to equal pay—including lower pay for women in the same job, the segregation of women into lower-paying jobs, bias against women with caregiving responsibilities, and lack of workplace policies to allow workers to care for families without paying a stiff economic penalty. On the issue of equal pay for equal work, Senator Kelly Ayotte claims she supports fair workplaces, and that she’s even “leading common sense efforts” on this issue. However, Senator Ayotte voted against the federal Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would strengthen federal equal pay laws, and protect employees who speak up about unequal pay, four times. Not only did Kelly Ayotte vote against the very measure she publicly claims to support, she has consistently paid men more than women in her own Senate office. The pay gap in Senator Ayotte’s office is even worse than the national gender wage gap. Senator Ayotte needs to square her public position with her own practices, and even more importantly, with her votes in the United States Senate to pay women a fair wage.” 

The full report and data is attached. Granite State Progress has worked on several efforts related to equal pay over the years, including toward successful passage of the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act in 2014 and most recently working with several New Hampshire businesses to offer women discounts on Equal Pay Day to highlight the pay gap and generate public awareness. In each instance, Granite State Progress has called on Congress – and in particular, U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte – to pass the federal Paycheck Fairness Act in support of New Hampshire families.

Granite State Progress report on Senator Kelly Ayotte:

GSP-Research-Brief-Gender-Wage-Analysis-in-Office-of-U.S.-Senator-Kelly-Ayotte-October-2016

 

Granite State Progress report on Governor Maggie Hassan:

GSP-Research-Brief-Gender-Wage-Analysis-in-Office-of-Governor-Maggie-Hassan-October-2016

 

Granite State Progress report on Senator Jeanne Shaheen:

GSP-Research-Brief-Gender-Wage-Analysis-in-Office-of-U.S.-Senator-Jeanne-Shaheen-October-2016

State Senate Candidate Joe Duarte Questioned Whether a Female Applicant for a Town Committee Could Fulfill Responsibilities Because She is a Mother

In 2007, Duarte participated in a discussion about whether a woman – who was the only candidate for a Zoning Board of Adjustments alternate position – could dedicate the necessary time because she is a mother

Joe Duarte

Joe Duarte

Concord, NH – During a Candia Selectman meeting on April 23, 2007, several selectmen – including Senate District 16 candidate Joe Duarte – debated whether an applicant for a vacant zoning board of adjustments alternate position could dedicate the necessary time to the position because she was the mother of a young child.

The applicant, Amanda Soares, was the only person to apply for the position. While some public officials in the room stated that the applicant’s personal family commitments weren’t up to the board to comment on – and that the question would likely not come up for a male applicant – Duarte persisted:

“Selectman Lazott stated he did not want to stretch her too thin. Selectman Duarte stated he was not on with the ZBA appointment because she was just appointed to the Planning Board as an alternate. Selectman Brennan stated he did not think the appointment was a big deal pointing out that he holds a full-time job and serves on many Boards and Committees. One Selectman noted that Selectman Brennan did not have a family and this requestor does.

Selectman Giffen reiterated that Mrs. Soares was extremely capable and that the ZBA meetings were typically short. Selectman Giffen advised he would not want to turn any volunteers down. Tax Collector Sanders mentioned she was aware that Mrs. Soares no longer had a daily commute to Massachusetts. Road Agent Lewis stated some months the ZBA does not meet. Selectman Giffen motioned to appoint Amanda Soares to the Zoning Board as an alternate member. Seconded by Selectman Brennan. Chairman Kelley stated he was still deciding because he was not sure about her time considering she has a small child. Selectman Brennan said the Board should let her make her own decisions regarding her time. Selectman Duarte stated attendance for two alternates for the Planning Board last year was poor and both had families. Ingrid Byrd of Depot Road wondered if the Board would be having the family discussion if the applicant was a man … Selectman Giffen mentioned that Mrs. Soares had perfect attendance when she was on the Solid Waste Committee and Conservation Commission. (Candia Selectmen, Approved Candia Selectmen’s Public Meeting Minutes, April 23, 2007)

The vote was postponed, but during the same meeting Duarte seconded a motion to approve two men for a town committee with no discussion of whether they have domestic responsibilities at home.

“Selectman Giffen to make recommendations on members for a Town of Candia Website Committee: Selectman Giffen advised public notice was placed in the paper for Public Meeting held on 4/19/07 for the purpose of establishing a website Committee. Selectman Giffen stated only two individuals showed up to volunteer. Selectman Giffen motioned to appoint Joe Miele and Larry Twitchell as members of the Town’s website committee with one-year terms, term to expire 4/23/08 effective today’s date. Seconded by Selectman Duarte. All in favor. Motion carried.” (Candia Selectmen, Approved Candia Selectmen’s Public Meeting Minutes, April 23, 2007)

In a follow-up meeting about the appointment, Duarte directly questioned the female applicant about her “full agenda” including other time commitments. Soares responded by saying her husband could be home to run the household in the evenings.

Selectman Duarte noted Mrs. Soares had a full agenda and asked her if she had enough time to devote to another Board. Mrs. Soares stated most of the meetings were held in the evenings when her husband is home and able to maintain the household … ZBA Chair Boyd Chivers pointed out that Mrs. Soares was the only person who expressed interest and did not know how the Board could turn her down. Secretary Chabot verified an advertisement was run for the position and Mrs. Soares was the only interested party. Selectman Giffen moved to accept the recommendation of the ZBA for the appointment of Amanda Soares as an alternate member with a term to expire on 10/28/08. Selectmen Lazott and Duarte indicated they were opposed. ZBA Chair Chivers noted the ZBA unanimously recommended her appointment.” (Candia Selectmen, Approved Candia Selectmen’s Public Meeting Minutes, May 14, 2007)

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“It appears Joe Duarte judges women based on his own personal opinion of what her domestic roles and responsibilities should be, rather than letting a woman decide for herself. While other public officials pushed back, Duarte persisted in making this an issue of a woman’s assumed role in a household and at no time raised concerns about the sexist nature of the conversation. In fact, he asserted that it was relevant despite the candidate’s demonstrated commitment to other town committees and the fact that she was the only applicant for the position. Duarte, himself, was serving on multiple committees at the time.”

This is not the only time Duarte has stood in the way of women. In 2014 Duarte voted against the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act, an act to ensure women receive equal pay for an equal day’s work; and in 2012 he voted to allow any employer to deny coverage for contraception based on the employer’s own personal beliefs. (SB207, Roll Call #235, 5/14/2014; HB1546, Roll Call #117, 3/7/2012) Duarte also endorsed Donald Trump for President.

Note: Soares later went on to successfully complete 5 years of service on the Candia Board of Selectmen. She resigned in early 2015 when her family moved out of the area. (Candia Selectman, Candia’s Selectmen’s Public Meeting Minutes, 1.12.15)

Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.

For Three Years, Ayotte Refused to Meet with Gun Violence Prevention Advocates In-State, So Two of Them Flew to Washington DC to Talk with Her

NH advocate, gun violence survivor attend “Coffee with Kelly” in Washington DC, ask Ayotte to meet with constituents about gun violence prevention; Meeting took place just one day before NH voters barred from Ayotte campaign town hall for wearing gun violence prevention t-shirts

WASHINGTON, DC – Gun violence survivor Clai Lasher-Sommers of Westmoreland and gun violence prevention advocate Sonia Prince of Nashua flew to Washington, DC last Thursday to attend U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte’s weekly constituent ‘Coffee with Kelly’ after Ayotte has refused to meet with gun violence prevention advocates in New Hampshire despite several requests over the last three years.

“Senator Ayotte sided with the gun lobby over the 89 percent of her constituents who support common sense background checks, and she’s avoided meetings about it ever since,” said Prince, a mother of three whose children attend school in the same district as Ayotte’s own children. “I told her that every time I buzz into the school I think of mass shootings, and that it’s sad our children are coming home concerned because they did a shooting drill at school. We need to take action to end gun violence.”

Lasher-Sommers, a gun violence survivor who was shot in the back when she was just 13 years old and who has become an outspoken advocate on gun violence prevention, talked to Ayotte about her personal experience and the need to close the background checks loophole and the terror gap.

“This is the second time I’ve been in Washington DC to meet with Senator Ayotte during a Coffee with Kelly this year,” said Lasher-Sommers. “It was the first time I felt that she really listened, although she did not make any commitments regarding future votes or conversations. I delivered a letter from Granite State Progress and other organizations asking the Senator to host a gun violence prevention town hall – a request that has been made for the past three years and echoed by many of her constituents – and offered my assistance in pulling it together. The public is ahead of politicians on gun violence prevention measures, and Senator Ayotte needs to sit down and hear directly from her constituents even if they do not have the time or funds to travel to Washington, DC.”

Lasher-Sommers and Prince said the meeting was a cordial one. The women are members of Granite State Progress and several other organizations working to reduce gun violence. The letter they delivered is a request for Ayotte to host a town hall specifically on gun violence prevention; Granite State Progress first issued the call on April 30, 2013 after Ayotte hosted three poorly publicized town halls where moderators such as former Congressman and current State Senator Jeb Bradley publicly admitted to screening out questions regarding Sen. Ayotte’s vote against background checks and the 89% of her constituents who support them. Granite State Progress, OFA-NH, Project for Safer Communities, and other organizations have re-issued the call during August Congressional recesses since then, and Granite State Progress members additionally host periodic coffee sit-ins in the Senator’s district offices to highlight her absence and remind her of the meeting request. Americans for Responsible Solutions and the Brady Campaign joined in the call for a town hall this year. For 3 years, 4 months, and 15 days, Ayotte has refused and additionally has avoided constituents’ requests for meetings on gun violence prevention.

On Friday, New Hampshire voters were barred from an Ayotte campaign town hall because they were wearing t-shirts promoting gun violence prevention.

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Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins: “Ayotte’s constituents shouldn’t have to fly to Washington, DC to talk with her about issues of national concern. We appreciate her new support to help close the terror gap just months after voting against it, but if Ayotte wants us to truly believe that she is interested in gun violence prevention and not just election year posturing she can prove it by accepting our invitation to meet with survivors of gun violence and the family members of victims, advocates, faith leaders, law enforcement officials, mental health advocates, and responsible gun owners.”

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