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Governor Hassan Ceremoniously Signs Legislation Moving NH Closer to Expanding Passenger Rail to Manchester


Governor Maggie Hassan ceremoniously signed two pieces of legislation today at Nashua City Hall aimed at getting the state closer to bringing passenger rail to Manchester. The legislation will make the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority more efficient and more appealing to state agencies seeking to provide funding for rail infrastructure projects. A second piece of legislation calls for a legislative committee to study public-private partnerships for infrastructure improvements, which will be integral in the effort to expand passenger rail along the New Hampshire Capitol Corridor. Governor Hassan was joined, from left to right, by: Adam Hlasny, Transportation Planner with the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission; State Senator Bette Lasky; David Preece, Executive Director of the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission and Vice-Chairman of NHRTA; Michael Skelton, President and CEO of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce; Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau; NHRTA Chairman Michael Izbicki; and Tracy Hatch, President and CEO of the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce.

SB 88 allows NH Rail Transit Authority to operate more efficiently and SB 63 establishes a legislative committee to study public-private partnerships for infrastructure projects

Nashua, NH – Governor Maggie Hassan ceremoniously signed two bills this morning in Nashua pushing the state closer to extending passenger rail to Manchester along the New Hampshire Capitol Corridor. Senate Bill 63 will help make the Rail Transit Authority (NHRTA) both more efficient and more appealing to federal agencies seeking to invest in states with well-organized rail authorities, and Senate Bill 88 establishes a committee to study public-private partnerships for intermodal transportation projects. During the signing ceremony at Nashua City Hall, Governor Hassan was joined by NHRTA Chairman Michael Izbicki, State Senator Bette Lasky, Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, Michael Skelton, President and CEO of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, and Tracy Hatch, President and CEO of the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce, along with business leaders and rail supporters.

“Senate Bill 88 and Senate Bill 63 mark important steps in the process of expanding rail along New Hampshire’s Capitol Corridor, which could have a transformative impact on our state’s economy,” said Michael Izbicki, Chairman of the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority. “Along with helping NHRTA operate more efficiently, this legislation could help open the door for New Hampshire to seek out alternative funding sources for critical infrastructure improvements, including rail. NHRTA, the state’s two largest Chambers of Commerce, 68% percent of New Hampshire residents and a growing list of businesses all agree that we need to invest in the state’s rail infrastructure, and this legislation gets us closer to that goal.”

Along with streamlining the membership of NHRTA’s board of directors, Senate Bill 63 also establishes an advisory board for NHRTA. Under Senate Bill 88, a legislative committee will identify potential revenue sources to fund passenger rail and other intermodal transportation options. These new sources of funding could help shift the burden from the state and enable New Hampshire to invest in its crumbling transportation infrastructure.  The legislative committee has already begun studying these types of partnerships.

“A modern, safe transportation infrastructure is critical to the success of our people and businesses, and bringing commuter rail from Boston to Nashua and Manchester will help ensure that our people and businesses have the full range of modern transportation options that they need, help bring more young people to New Hampshire and help spur economic growth. Commuter rail is one of my priorities for attracting more young people to the Granite State and encouraging innovative economic growth, and I am proud to have signed these two bills that represent an important part of the process to moving commuter rail forward into law.”

Across the country, public-private partnerships are becoming a more viable option for financing needed infrastructure improvements. With $1 billion in private financing, a public-private partnership in Denver called the Eagle P3 Project is helping to construct three new commuter rail lines. The Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority is developing a major tunnel and bridge project as part of the Ohio River Bridges Project through a public-private partnership. The Virginia Department of Transportation is relying on a public-private partnership to redevelop a 14-mile stretch of its Capital Beltway, creating a managed-lane model.

“These types of partnerships carry a number of potential benefits, like engaging private sector innovation to help drive down costs which can help and sustain price certainty, even in long-term budgeting,” Izbicki added.

The bill signing ceremony today comes on the heels of an announcement last week that the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission (SNHPC) had been awarded a $30,000 challenge grant to continue public education and advocacy for advancing commuter rail to Manchester. In an effort to keep up the momentum, SNHPC is using the challenge grant to engage key stakeholders, business leaders and the public to continue to build on a still-growing base of rail supporters.

Earlier this year, the state released the NH Capitol Corridor Study, which analyzed the 73-mile corridor from Boston, MA to Concord, NH.  The study indicated that the Manchester Regional Rail alternative, which would serve two stations in Nashua, one in downtown Manchester and one at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, would offer the greatest economic benefit with a relatively moderate investment.

The next step in the rail expansion process is the critical project development phase, which costs $4 million and consists of establishing a detailed financial plan, preliminary engineering, environmental permitting and preparation of funding applications for submission to the Federal Transit Administration and Federal Rail Administration.

To learn more about efforts to expand passenger rail in New Hampshire, please visit www.nhrta.org.

About the NH Capitol Corridor Study 

In early 2015, a comprehensive analysis of the 73-mile corridor from Boston, MA to Concord, NH known as the NH Capitol Corridor Study was released which indicated that the Manchester Regional Rail alternative, which would serve two stations in Nashua, one in downtown Manchester and one at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, would offer the greatest economic benefit with a relatively moderate investment. After reviewing the results of the study, NHRTA voted to formally support extending passenger rail service to Manchester, with continued interest in extending passenger rail to Concord.

According to the study, the Manchester Regional Rail alternative would create approximately 230 jobs through construction of the rail line and an additional 3,390 construction jobs would be created to build real estate development generated by rail. Beginning in 2030, the expansion of rail would create 1,730 new jobs every year. Real estate development would add $750 million to the state’s output between 2021 and 2030, with reinvested earnings would add $220 million per year beyond 2030.

The total capital investment to bring passenger rail to Manchester is estimated at $245.6 million, but New Hampshire’s investment could shrink to $72 million with contributions from regional partners coupled with 50% federal support.  The investment required to cover debt service on a 20-year bond and annual operating and maintenance costs would be $11 million annually.  

About the NH Rail Transit Authority

The NH Rail Transit Authority (NHRTA) was established in 2007 and is tasked with encouraging and overseeing the redevelopment of passenger rail services throughout New Hampshire with an initial emphasis on the NH Capitol Corridor. The NHRTA is administratively attached to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation and consists of a nine-member board of directors comprised of the NH Department of Transportation, the NH Department of Resources and Economic Development, a member of the NHRTA advisory board, two representatives from the House Transportation Committee and four appointees by the governor. NHRTA’s board of directors takes guidance from an advisory board comprised of broad based membership from 14 cities and towns, 9 regional planning commissions, the NH College and University Council, the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and three members appointed by the governor. Learn more at www.nhrta.org

Ayotte Votes to Cut Million$ in Funding for NH School Districts

Senator Kelly AyotteConcord, N.H. – Kelly Ayotte is once again working against the interests of New Hampshire’s students and families, voting for an amendment to the Senate’s education reform bill that would cut $1.7 million in federal funds for the Manchester School District.

Ayotte’s vote would also cut $420,000 from the Nashua School District$207,000 from the Franklin School District$150,000 from the Conway School District, and $160,000 from the Berlin School District.

“Since going to Washington, Kelly Ayotte has put her special interest backers first, working to roll back Wall Street reform and protecting tax breaks for big oil companies and outsourcers, while also voting against the interests of New Hampshire’s students and families,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Press Secretary Aaron Jacobs. “Ayotte’s vote to cut $1.7 million in federal funds from the Manchester School District, and to cut hundreds of thousands more from Nashua, Franklin, Conway and Berlin, would lead to huge cuts to education funding, higher local property taxes, or both.”


Read Kelly Ayotte Votes Against New Hampshire’s Best Interests In Budget here.

The Nashua Labor Coalition Endorses Michael O’Brien For Alderman-At-Large In June 23rd Special Election

O’Brien is the voice that working families need in City Hall

(Nashua, NH) The Nashua Labor Coalition, a chapter of the NH AFL-CIO that brings together a variety of labor unions, community organizations, and community activists, endorsed Michael O’Brien for Alderman-at-Large in the upcoming city wide special election on June 23rd.

“As a State Representative for four terms, Michael O’Brien has stood up for working families by opposing harmful legislation like so-called ‘Right To Work’ and has fought to protect our collective bargaining rights,” said Deb Howes, Chair of the Nashua Labor Coalition and member of the Nashua Teachers Union (AFT 1044).  “We know that as an Alderman, Michael will continue to put working families first.”

For over 34 years Michael O’Brien has dedicated his life to protecting the city of Nashua as a member of the Nashua Fire and Rescue.

“We are pleased that Deputy Chief O’Brien has chosen to continue to serve Nashua after his retirement in the coming weeks. When elected, he will be a strong voice for public safety and for growth of the middle class here in Nashua,” said John McAllister, President of the Nashua Firefighters Association IAFF Local #789.

“As an Alderman, I know that Michael will continue to push expanding rail service to Nashua and all of Southern New Hampshire,” said Dawn Roy,  Chair of the United Auto Workers Local 2322.  “The New Hampshire Capitol Corridor Project will bring hundreds of new jobs and would be a boost to our local economy.”

“The Nashua Labor Coalition is proud to endorse Michael O’Brien for Alderman-at- Large, and strongly urge all Nashua residents to vote in the special election for Alderman-at-Large on Tuesday, June 23rd, concluded Howes.

More information on Michael O’Brien can be found at www.obrienfornashua.com

Members of the Nashua Labor Coalition include:

Deb Howes
John McAllister
Dawn Roy
Gary Hoffman
Matt Murray
Jim Scurrah
Sylvia Gale
Dexter Arnold
Ed Barnes

The Nashua Labor Coalition is a chapter of NH AFL-CIO. It includes Nashua Area Affiliated and Non-Affiliated Unions, as well as community organizations.

Jim Donchess Announces Campaign for Mayor of Nashua

Campaign Co-Chairs and Supporters List of Over 550 Nashua Residents

Jim DonchessNASHUA –Jim Donchess announced his campaign for Mayor of Nashua, promising to restore accountability and openness to City Hall and build on his successful two terms as Mayor when Money Magazine named Nashua the “Best Place to Live in America.”

“Nashua needs a Mayor who will bring people together to work for Nashua’s success and to build a stronger economic future for our community.  Over the past four years I have talked with thousands of Nashua citizens about our city.  As Mayor, accountability and openness will be my guiding principles,” said Donchess.

“Only by working together can we improve our schools, maintain a stable tax rate and address the increasing problem of drug-related crime and overdoses.  Nashua is already a wonderful place in which to live, learn, work and raise a family, but I believe we can do better.  We need to make Nashua a premier New England city again,” Donchess said.

Donchess has also posted a list of over 550 public supporters on his website at www.JimDonchessforMayor.com.

“I am proud to have strong grassroots support in every neighborhood of Nashua.  I believe my experience and record make me uniquely qualified to be the next Mayor of Nashua,” added Donchess.

Donchess also announced campaign co-chairs Stephanie Ballantine, Maria Barry, Gary Hoffman, Homa Jaferey, Harvey Keye, Sue McNamee, Kim Muise, Sue Newman, Allison Nutting, Michael Pedersen, George Pressly, Sonia Prince, Mary Slivinski, Catherine Sofikitis, JoAnne StJohn and Eliza Weeks.

Community leader and longtime Democratic activist JoAnne StJohn is enthusiastic about Jim’s campaign. “I have known Jim for many years and seen the kind of thoughtful, balanced leader he is in city government. He always weighs both sides of an argument, and I am confident that he will work hard to bring people together and be the kind of leader that Nashua needs.”

“Jim Donchess is focused on bread and butter issues that affect the daily lives of Nashuans – parking, potholes, parks and keeping property taxes low. He understands that to make meaningful progress for Nashua we need to work together,” says Michael Pedersen. “I’m proud to be a part of Jim’s truly grassroots campaign, and as Mayor, I’m confident that Jim will get results for his constituents.”

Republican Mary Slivinski adds, “I am supporting Jim because of his experience and his unrelenting dedication to making the City of Nashua number one again.”

“As a former Mayor and current Alderman-At-Large, Jim Donchess brings a wealth of knowledge and ability to lead our city.  His record shows him to be truly bi-partisan as he consistently brings all sides of an issue together to work out a positive result for the betterment of our community,” says Nashua Board of Education member Kim Muise. “Jim’s dedication and support of our schools, police, fire, arts and our local business community further shows he has a clear understanding of what priorities are important to the citizens of Nashua.”

Jim Donchess is a long-time leader in Nashua and has stood for accountability, transparency and fiscal responsibility.  Donchess was elected in 2011 as an Alderman-at-Large, winning all of Nashua’s nine wards.  As a member of the Board of Aldermen, he has opposed spending money on non-critical projects in order to preserve funds for the core services of schools and law enforcement.

Donchess was the chief sponsor of legislation to require open government and transparency with respect to city contracts.  He also successfully pressed for changes in Board of Public Works meeting times to make BPW meetings more accessible to the public and to enable working citizens to run for the Board.  Additionally, Donchess successfully sponsored legislation to introduce on-street overnight parking into Nashua’s densely populated Tree Streets neighborhood as well as legislation to promote the development of attractive new housing options in Nashua’s downtown.

As an Alderman-at-Large, Donchess has supported efforts to maintain the quality of Nashua’s schools and to add police officers to the force in order to fight increasing drug-related crime in the community.  Donchess also has long been an advocate for bringing commuter rail service to Nashua.

Bi-Partisan Group Of State Legislators Met With Community Members From The Nashua Area



From Left: Efstathia Booras – D Hillsborough 33, David Murotake – R – Hillsborough 32, Martin Jack – D – Hillsborough 36 Suzanne Harvey – D Hillsborough 29, C. Lee Guerette – D – Hillsborough 33, Kenneth Gidge – D – Hillsborough 33, Daniel Hansberry – D- Hillsborough 35

Community Members from the Nashua Labor Coalition and the Granite State Organizing Project discussed issues ranging from Right To Work, to capping title loans, to raising the Minimum Wage.

(Nashua, NH) — Thirty to forty people attended an open forum with seven Nashua area State Representatives to discuss the issues that are weighing on the minds of the community. Community members asked a variety of questions like how they plan to vote on the “right to work” legislation, charter schools, public transportation, and raising the minimum wage.

“No contract can include an agency fee or fair-share agreement that was not agreed to by both the employer and the union collectively,” said Deb Howes, Chair of the Nashua Labor Coalition. “Right To Work would allow people to benefit from a collective bargaining agreement without paying for it, and that is just wrong.”

“We are voting on this Right To Work legislation later in week, and you need to reach out to your legislators and ask them to vote it down,” stated Representative Dan Hansberry.

Everyone in the crowd was looking forward to hearing about where the Representatives’ stand on raising the minimum wage. Throughout New Hampshire over 70% of people polled supported raising the minimum wage, a truly bi-partisan issue. All of the Representatives who attended support raising the minimum wage.

Last year, the House passed a minimum wage increase, and the Senate killed it in a 12-12 tie. “I am a Republican and a small business owner, and I support raising the minimum wage,” stated Rep. David Murotake. He implied that the bill could get through the House, but would most likely be killed by the Senate again. “I suggest you talk to your Republican Senators and urge them to support a minimum wage increase.”

One of the other questions that generated lots of discussion came from David Lamb, a Nashua local, who asked about increasing public transportation throughout New Hampshire. The Concord Rail Study laid out a number of different options that New Hampshire could choose to expand rail services in New Hampshire.

“If you want to attract people, if you want to attract companies, and brings jobs we need to expand the rail system throughout New Hampshire,” said Representative Kenneth Gidge.

All of the Representatives in attendance seem to support expanding rail service throughout New Hampshire, including the lone Republican, Rep. Murotake who stated, “I have supported rail for a long time and I don’t think support for rail is a partisan issue.” Rep. Murotake concluded his statement on the rail project with a message of hope for those who support expanding rail service in New Hampshire. “Maybe not this year, or next year, or four years from now, but I believe it is going to happen.”

Paul Belanger a letter carrier of forty-two years, proposed the idea of “no-excuse absentee” balloting and voting by mail. He asked the Representatives if they would support a move to vote by mail like they do in Oregon. “In Oregon, over 80% of registered voters voted in the last election,” said Belanger. Rep. Murotake quickly voiced his support for the idea referring back to his days in the military where he always voted by mail.

“People are busy, we work hard, and getting to the polls can be difficult. We should be looking into ways to expanding access to the ballot box,” said Matt Murray, a member of the Nashua Labor Coalition. “Voting by mail and early voting are two very good and viable options for New Hampshire.”

Rep. Gidge explained that there is currently a bill in the House to expand absentee voting, but currently it would only allow family members to drop off absentee ballots.

The issue of charter school funding sparked some slightly heated debate from some of the teachers in the audience. The majority of the Reps. said they supported public charters and some thought we should be increasing funding to these charter schools. The overwhelming response from the crowd was that the money spent on charter schools is eroding the rest of the public school system. Nashua schools have seen programs like the “Gifted and Talented (GATE)” eliminated due to budgetary cuts at the state and local levels. One teacher suggested moving the charter schools back into the public schools, giving more access to more students and eliminating the costs of a separate school.

Deb Howes closed the night by stating, “On behalf of the Nashua Labor Coalition and Granite State Organizing Project, I would like to thank all of the Representatives for attending tonight and taking time out of your busy schedules to meet with us. We hope that this has been as informative for you as it has been for us.”

The Nashua Labor Coalition is a chapter of NH AFL-CIO. It includes Nashua Area Affiliated and Non-Affiliated Unions, as well as community organizations.

Granite State Organizing Project is a coalition of religious, community and labor organizations addressing the issues of affordable housing, jobs, access to health care, quality education and immigrant and refugee rights.


High Praise From NH’s Elected Leaders After Capitol Corridor Study Is Released

Today the New Hampshire Department of Transportation released their final report on extending rail service through Southern New Hampshire. The report laid out several different options to extend rail service all the way to Concord. The DOT stated that extending the rail to Manchester would be the most economical to gain the largest impact.

After the report was released elected leaders were quick to praise the study.

“A solid, modern transportation infrastructure is critical to the success of our people and businesses, and bringing commuter rail from Boston to Nashua and Manchester is another important step in strengthening our transportation infrastructure,” stated Governor Hassan. “Improving access to the entire region and providing types of new transportation and housing opportunities that 21st century workers and families desire, rail will help keep more of our young people right here in the Granite State and spark economic growth for decades to come.”

“Our business community understands the many benefits of commuter rail, and we must find a way to remain responsive to their needs by finding a consensus way forward that will build on our many advantages and help set the stage for a new generation of economic growth. I look forward to working with legislators from both parties, with local communities and with our businesses in order to continue to improve our transportation infrastructure and to bring commuter rail to New Hampshire,” concluded Hassan.

Congresswoman Kuster has been a strong advocate for federal funding for projects to repair and expand New Hampshire’s transportation infrastructure. She is a cosponsor of the Partnership to Build America Act, bipartisan legislation to leverage private investments to fund an Infrastructure Bank for financing public works projects like the Capitol Corridor project. This past summer, Kuster also convened a group of business owners and leaders for a roundtable discussion in Nashua focused on the economic benefits of passenger rail.

“Improving our state’s infrastructure is crucial to the success of our local economy, and expanding rail in New Hampshire could help bring thousands of new jobs and increased revenue to our state,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “I look forward to learning more about the various options for rail in New Hampshire outlined in this report, and I remain committed to working with my colleagues in Congress to provide support and federal funding for the expansion of passenger rail and other transportation options across our communities. We must continue to pursue smart, fiscally sound improvements to our public infrastructure in order to support our local businesses and help our economy grow.”

“Today’s final report on the Capitol Corridor Study confirms what the citizens and businesses of New Hampshire have known for years: bringing commuter rail to NH will help maximize our regional position and spark economic growth for decades to come,” said Sen. Bette Lasky (D-Nashua). “Commuter rail will benefit Nashua and the entire state by bringing new transportation and housing opportunities—the kinds of opportunities that our businesses and families are looking for.”

“Senate Democrats want to expand opportunity for all, and commuter rail is a significant potential driver of economic opportunity,” added Senate Transportation Committee member Sen. Dan Feltes (D-Concord). “With the release of the final report, we as legislators have a choice: invest in commuter rail as an economic engine and keep more of our young people here in New Hampshire or stick with the status quo. Senate Democrats stand ready to work with stakeholders in the bussing industry, the business community, state transportation experts as well as our colleagues in the House and Senate to ensure we find a consensus, comprehensive way forward.”

“Today’s report clearly shows that the Manchester commuter rail option offers the best long-term return on investment, with a big impact on commercial and residential development in the Manchester and Nashua areas,” said Executive Councilor Chris Pappas. “Rail will reduce congestion and create thousands of jobs over time, contributing to our entire state’s quality of life and tax base. It is time to make this proposal a reality, and I look forward to working with elected officials, businesses, and constituents to support a fiscally responsible way to finance this critical economic development project.”

Extending rail service to Southern New Hampshire would reduce traffic congestion while strengthening our public transportation system and give an economic boost to the local economy. The question now is will the State pony up the money needed to extend the rail or not?

Kuster Calls on Garcia to Pledge to Fight for Expanded Passenger Rail in Nashua

image004Nashua, NH – This morning, Congresswoman Kuster, local elected officials, and business leaders met in Nashua to pledge support for passenger rail to Nashua and beyond, if the feasibility study results in a positive recommendation. The group sent a clear message that we must improve the state’s transportation infrastructure to create a better business environment and expand New Hampshire’s economy – and any candidate running for federal office should support these efforts.

On October 9th, at the Nashua Chamber of Commerce’s Candidates Forum, Tea Party candidate Marilinda Garcia demonstrated a shocking lack of knowledge about the possible expansion of passenger rail into Nashua and beyond. When asked about the project, which is widely recognized as one of the single most important issues facing the Nashua region and which experts say could provide a significant boost to the local economy, Garcia said she was unfamiliar with the project, and told the moderator she needed to “get back to you about that.”

Garcia’s unfamiliarity with the project is particularly interesting, considering that while serving in the state legislature, she repeatedly voted to block the rail project from moving forward. Garcia has a history of voting against projects her constituents support; she famously blocked casino gambling in the state despite the fact that 81 percent of her Salem constituents were in support.

But Kuster knows how important passenger rail is to the Nashua and state economy. Today, Kuster presented leaders and reporters with an open letter calling on Garcia to pledge to fight for federal funding if the project is deemed feasible:

A Pledge to Fight for the Nashua Economy

An Open Letter by Congresswoman Annie Kuster

When I first came to office last year, I saw that many hardworking New Hampshire families were still hurting from the economic downturn. I knew we needed to shore up our local economy, so that here in the Granite State – regardless of what happened nationally – our families’ economic security would be protected.

That’s why I’ve made numerous visits to Nashua, New Hampshire’s economic engine. I’ve visited businesses throughout the community, hearing directly from owners and employees about how Congress could help them grow. 

What I’ve heard from Nashua business leaders, though, may be surprising. Obviously cutting taxes and easing regulatory burdens continues to be a top priority, but the most common feedback I’ve received from business leaders in Nashua is that we must improve the state’s transportation infrastructure if we want to create more jobs.

Nashua is New Hampshire’s innovation hub – new businesses pop up all time, and the city is helping lead our state’s manufacturing renaissance. But without proper infrastructure, these companies won’t be able to access the workers, suppliers, and customers they need to be successful.  That’s why business leaders throughout the Southern Tier are looking to their political leaders to push for one of the most important economic development projects of our time:  the expansion of passenger rail into the Granite State.

Expanding rail has the potential to infuse billions of dollars into our economy, and create thousands of new jobs. Nashua companies facing hiring difficulties will be able to attract new talent, and expanding businesses will be encouraged to set up shop here. What’s more, commuter rail would help ease our heavily congested roads, and make it easier for companies to ship their products in a timely manner.

Expanded passenger rail enjoys widespread support throughout the Southern Tier, and a feasibility study is currently underway to determine the best course of action for implementation. However, we can’t just sit and wait for the project to be approved – I want to be ready to hit the ground running as soon as the study is completed.

That’s why I’ve been taking steps in Congress to push forward programs that would help make the rail project possible. I’m working with Republicans and Democrats to create a new infrastructure bank, which would leverage private funds for investments in infrastructure—at no cost to taxpayers. And I’ve held roundtable discussions and meetings with businesses like Parallel Wireless, BAE, and Cirtronics to learn how rail would benefit them.  I know what this project means to Nashua, to the Southern Tier, and to the entire Granite State economy, and I’ve been laying the groundwork to move it forward during my past two years in office.

That’s why I was honestly shocked to hear my opponent’s response to questions about commuter rail during a recent Nashua Chamber of Commerce Candidates Forum. Not only did she refuse to pledge support for the project, she claimed to have no knowledge of it! This absolutely floors me. As someone who has been hearing from our state’s business leaders for years – since before I even came to office – about the critical importance of commuter rail to our economy, how can a candidate running to represent the Granite State in Congress claim to have no familiarity with this vital project? 

If you dig a little deeper into my opponent’s record, you’ll see that while serving in the state legislature, she actually voted repeatedly to block the commuter rail project from moving forward. So it seems that perhaps she was being a bit disingenuous when claiming to have no familiarity with the project.

But lets’ give her the benefit of the doubt. As she said during the forum, “no one is an expert on everything.”  But here’s what I want to know – now that Rep. Garcia has presumably been filled in on the details, will she now pledge to fight for federal funding for the rail project?

Marilinda Garcia claims she’s running for office to support Granite Staters’ best interests, and we all know that the number one priority Granite Staters care about is job creation. This project, if deemed feasible, could create thousands of new jobs. Knowing that, will she admit she was wrong to vote against this project, and join me in pledging to help bring commuter rail to Nashua?

I call on Marilinda Garcia to prove that she’s running for office for the right reasons:  to fight for the things that Granite Staters care about and support a project that would create thousands of jobs for New Hampshire. If the feasibility study shows that this project makes sense, I call on Marilinda Garcia to put the New Hampshire economy before her extreme ideology and pledge to stand with me to fight for rail funding in Washington. I eagerly await her response.

Congresswoman Annie Kuster is running for reelection in the Second Congressional District of New Hampshire. She is running against an extreme Tea Party candidate, Marilinda Garcia.

Nashua Locals Hold “A Vigil for Tolerance, Acceptance and Welcoming”

This week, I had the privilege of helping to organize and attend a great event in Nashua. The vigil was to show support for all of the refugees and immigrants coming to New Hampshire and many of our southern states.

Over the past few months, a group led by Jerry Delemus and the “912 project” have been traveling around our state, opposing immigration reform and using the thousands of child refugees as a backdrop to promote their hate-filled agenda.

After seeing their gathering on the Exit 6 overpass on one Saturday afternoon, I was personally outraged. Yes, there is a lot of political controversy surrounding the unaccompanied minors at the US border. But these children are not coming to America as immigrants – they are surrendering themselves to US Border agents as refugees from war torn countries, where oppressive governments and gangs are literally murdering children in the streets.

The sad fact is that some of these children are killed within a week of being deported back to their home country.

I connected with Representative Sylvia Gale (Nashua Ward 1) who gathered a group of immigration advocates to organize an event to show that real Granite Staters are not bigots using children for political purposes – but that, instead, we are a truly welcoming community.


The Vigil for Tolerance, Acceptance and Welcoming

Vigil 8

At the vigil, guests were asked to leave their own message on the sign.

“Bring us your tired…Your poor…Your huddled masses yearning to be free”
— Emma Lazarus

These are the immortal words inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty. For many immigrants, like my great-grandparents, the Statue of Liberty symbolizes that America is truly a welcoming country.   No matter where you come from, or why you chose to come here, the United States welcomes you to seek your own version of the American Dream.

Around 50-60 people gathered on the steps of Nashua’s City Hall, directly under the ever-waving State of New Hampshire flag, to let the people of Nashua’s bustling downtown area know that we are tolerant and welcoming.

Rev. Bertha Perkins of the New Fellowship Baptist Church

Rev. Bertha Perkins of the New Fellowship Baptist Church

The plaza was filled with a variety of people including labor leaders, immigration activists, and elected representatives. Dozens of people came with their own hand-made signs with phases like, “No human is illegal” and “Immigration rights are civil rights”.

The vigil was opened with a prayer from Rev. Bertha Perkins of the New Fellowship Baptist Church.   She talked about how “God made us all in his own image” and that we are all humans.

Rep Sylvia Gale

Rep. Sylvia Gale

Rep Sylvia Gale gave a wonderful speech explaining why we need to show that New Hampshire and the United States are open and welcoming.

We will raise our voices so that all will know that here in Greater Nashua, here in the State of New Hampshire, and that all throughout this land we embrace and celebrate our differences. From Portland, Maine, to Maricopa County, Arizona, to Ferguson, Missouri, to Murietta, California, to Brownsville, Texas, to Miami, Florida, and beyond, from border to border, and from sea to shining sea, we are a Welcoming Community and we are a Tolerant Nation.”

(Rep Gale’s full speech is included below)

Eva Castillo

Eva Castillo

Eva Castillo of the Immigrant and Refugees Coalition and Janeth Orozco of Welcoming NH spoke about how we need to change the political messaging surrounding immigrants and refugees. Castillo said, “We are all human” and that “We should be open and welcoming of people and their cultures that have shaped our nation”.

Ray Ealey, a member of the New Fellowship Baptist Church, led the group in a rousing version of “We Shall Overcome.” All of the attendees gathered in a circle, held hands and sang out.

Rev. Tom Woodward gave the closing prayer and “Call to Action.”

While our elected leaders fight to overcome the gridlock in Washington D.C to pass meaningful immigration reform, we want everyone to know – despite what others may say – New Hampshire is a tolerant, welcoming community.

The differences in all of us are what make America the great nation it is today.

And New Hampshire has always welcomed people – no matter what color, what language, what religion, what circumstances – to come here and “Live Free.”

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Full Speech by Rep. Sylvia Gale

Thank you all for joining us this evening.   This event was conceived and came about as a result of the thoughts and actions of many of us who are gathered here, along with many others who are unable to join us.

We have been distressed and dismayed with the news of what has been happening at our nation’s southern most borders…..that of more than 60,000 children, many of them unaccompanied by any legal parent or guardian, making the dangerous and overwhelmingly difficult journey to find safety and comfort which can no longer be assured in their home countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

These children, some as young as 4 or 6, are literally fleeing for their lives and have been sent by their families with the last desperate hope of being reunited with other family members who may already be somewhere in the United States.   They and their families know that there is no guarantee that they will be able to stay here, but yet they come, fleeing for their very lives. 

No longer, as in the past, are they only fleeing to escape the devastating poverty in their home countries, but now they come seeking protection and safety from the unimaginable violence in their homes and schools, with murder rates raging out of control due to the seemingly unstoppable drug cartels that appear to have exerted their rampant violence into every aspect of civic and community existence in those countries. 

And, as news of this flood of young and desperate refugees has spread across this great nation, we have been further alarmed and dismayed by the reactions of some of our fellow countrymen and women who have raised signs and slogans steeped in racism and bigotry and have loudly shouted, “Not Welcome Here……GO HOME…..

We are here tonight to lend our voices, our messages, and our commitment to carry on a dialogue for PEACE through Understanding which needs to once again become loud enough so that all members of our community can hear it.

We will raise our voices so that all will know that here in Greater Nashua, here in the State of New Hampshire, and that all throughout this land we embrace and celebrate our differences. From Portland, Maine, to Maricopa County, Arizona, to Ferguson, Missouri, to Murietta, California, to Brownsville, Texas, to Miami, Florida, and beyond, from border to border, and from sea to shining sea, we are a Welcoming Community and we are a Tolerant Nation. 

We will drown out the voices of those who cling to hatred and bigotry, and we will continue to work…together…to achieve Peace through Understanding.

In order to honor all who have come before us, and all of those who have lost their lives struggling to find safety and freedom, we will now hold a time of silence for reflection, and to strengthen our resolve to do all that we can to exert our collective influence upon local, state, and national leaders to address the needs of not only these children, but of all of this nation’s newest arrivals……

(Moment of silence) 

To borrow from the poetic words of Emma Lazarus that are inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty, we say: “Give US your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free…..Here they should find safety and comfort, and be Welcomed…..


Congresswoman Kuster Meets With Nashua Area Business Leaders About Expanding Rail And Transportation Infrastructure

Kuster Hosts Nashua Roundtable on How Passenger Rail, Expanded Transportation Infrastructure Could Support Economic Development in New Hampshire

Kuster convened business and transportation leaders to discuss the expansion of passenger rail into the Nashua area

Kuster Nashua Rail Roundtable

Nashua, N.H. – This morning, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) hosted a roundtable at Nashua Community College to discuss the possible expansion of passenger rail into New Hampshire and other ways to support transportation infrastructure and foster job creation around the Granite State.

During the discussion, Kuster heard directly from business and transportation leaders about current challenges and deficits in our state’s transportation network, and about how expanded rail and other increased transportation options would benefit their businesses and the local economy. Roundtable participants included Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, Nashua Chamber of Commerce President Chris Williams, State Senators Bette Lasky and Peggy Gilmour, as well as representatives from the NH Division of Economic Development, the Nashua Regional Planning Commission, the NH Rail Transit Authority, the NH Department of Transportation, and Nashua Municipal Airport.

“During today’s roundtable, I was grateful to hear from so many business and community leaders about the importance of maintaining a strong transportation infrastructure to spur economic development and job creation in the region and across the Granite State,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “New Hampshire can’t lead in the 21st century economy with 20th century infrastructure, and I am committed to working with my colleagues in Congress to ensure our local businesses have the infrastructure support they need to expand and create more jobs in the state. I sincerely thank today’s participants for sharing their expertise, and I look forward to working together to strengthen our roads, bridges, and railways so we can meet the needs of residents, businesses, and tourists alike – and protect vital construction jobs for our workers.”

Congresswoman Kuster has been a strong advocate for federal funding for projects to repair and expand New Hampshire’s transportation infrastructure.  She is a cosponsor of the Partnership to Build America Act, bipartisan legislation to leverage private investments to fund an Infrastructure Bank for financing public works projects like those discussed during today’s roundtable. Kuster also introduced the DRIVE Now Act, legislation to help the state fix our roads and bridges and support vital construction jobs. She supports expanded transportation options in southern New Hampshire, which would connect Granite Staters in New Hampshire’s largest population centers to Boston (and vice-versa), and help boost the New Hampshire economy and create jobs.

Last year, the New Hampshire Executive Council approved the acceptance of a $3.9 million federal grant for a feasibility study on the costs and benefits of expanded passenger rail in the Granite State. The report is due to state transportation officials by the end of 2014.

Professional Fire Fighters of NH Proudly Endorse Diane Sheehan for Executive Council

PFF SheehanNASHUA – Today fire fighters from Executive Council District 5 gathered proudly to endorse Diane Sheehan in her campaign for Executive Councilor.  The PFFNH believe that Alderman Sheehan is the best choice to represent the Southern region of New Hampshire in the Executive Council.

“Alderman Sheehan has continuously been a great supporter of fire fighters in Nashua and a champion of public safety. We are lucky to have her here in Nashua, and know that she will serve the rest of the people of New Hampshire with the same commitment,” stated John McAllister, President of Nashua IAFF Local#789.

“Diane Sheehan’s commitment to fire fighters in our area proves that her priorities are in line with what we need in the Executive Council. She is a community leader who values public safety above all else. As fire fighters, our job is to protect Main Street, and we believe that Diane Sheehan shares in that same viewpoint,” stated Rich Ducharme, President of Merrimack IAFF Local #2904.

PFF Sheehan 2“I am proud, honored, and truly appreciative to receive the endorsement from the Professional Fire Fighters of NH for Executive Council in District five. As a current Alderman At-Large in Nashua, I am well aware of the selfless service performed daily by our professional fire fighters. When others run from a burning building, these brave public servants run in. I recognize that they put their lives on the line for community safety. I pledge to bring to the Council their cares and concerns, and to work as hard in representing them, and all the people of District 5, as they do each time they answer the alarm. I humbly thank them for the confidence they have placed in me,” said Sheehan.

The Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire, headquartered in Concord, NH represents more than 2,000 active and retired fire fighters and paramedics from 43 locals across the state.  More information is available at www.pffnh.org. Follow us on twitter @pffnh


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