A challenge to Councilor Wheeler

Why I’m running for Executive Council in District 5

Earlier this month I officially entered the race for Executive Council to represent the 33 towns of District 5, where I was raised. As a candidate for our state’s highest governing body, I owe the people of southern New Hampshire a clear explanation of why I seek this office and the manner in which I intend to serve if elected. 

First, I want to acknowledge my opponent’s service to our district and state. Over his long political career, Councilor David Wheeler has spent countless hours attending governmental sessions and remained committed to his core, albeit extreme, beliefs. He has been paid very little for his time, in accordance with New Hampshire tradition. For these reasons and more, I will continue to show him my respect throughout this campaign.

Nevertheless, respect and agreement are not the same thing. On issue after issue of local and state concern, the majority of District 5 citizens respectfully disagree with my opponent’s positions. I am running to chart a different course and ensure that partisan ideology does not trump the public interest in Concord.

1. Opioid epidemic: As New Hampshire reels from a heroin and opioid epidemic that claimed over 400 lives last year, my opponent would roll back health insurance and critical drug treatment for some 50,000 Granite Staters in need. Blocking Medicaid expansion, against the wishes of his constituents and even the leaders of his party, squanders both human lives and precious public funds, as the cost of emergency room visits by uninsured people far exceeds that of preventive care.

His stance leaves a staggering $800 million in federal tax dollars unclaimed – precious public funds already paid by Granite Staters. As a member of the Executive Council, I will work to ensure swift and responsible contracting to continue the NH Health Protection Program, as passed by the Legislature and signed into law. 

2. Women’s Health: My opponent continues to restrict women’s access to basic health care by blocking the appropriated funding for Planned Parenthood clinics. His votes are sadly at odds with the needs of his constituents and lack a basis in fact: not only are no public funds spent on abortions, but family planning services have been found to reduce the number of abortions and teenage pregnancies, a goal we share.

As councilor, I will seek and approve the highest-value contracts to continue our longstanding policy of investing in women’s health, and continue the fight for gender equality so that my daughter and other young girls enjoy the same opportunities as my son.

3. Renewable energy: Although my opponent has spoken against the Kinder Morgan pipeline on private property grounds, his 2014 statement to the Nashua Chamber of Commerce that he will find ways to make the pipeline work is concerning to residents of the 17 towns through which the pipeline would pass if reintroduced.

The threats to our land, health and safety – not to mention our global climate – cannot be overlooked, especially as residents in Merrimack and Litchfield face chemical contamination of their water as a result of poor regulation of a nearby plastics manufacturer.

4. Rail and economic growth: Commuter rail represents the biggest opportunity in a generation to grow our state economy, add thousands of middle-class jobs, and stem the rapid out-migration of New Hampshire youth. Although three-quarters of our fellow citizens and leading chambers of commerce support the Capitol Corridor project, my opponent has been the deciding vote blocking the state from reclaiming millions of our federal tax dollars for the purpose and adding hundreds of millions more in new real estate development.

5. Good governance: Finally, I am running for Executive Council because I believe in the democratic process. From my student days at ConVal High School to my work as Executive Director of Open Democracy and the NH Rebellion, I have sought to “walk the talk” for democracy with citizens of all stripes. Working with Democrats, Republicans and independents, I have successfully advocated for greater transparency and against the special interests who fund my opponent’s campaign, and I will continue to so by disclosing and capping my campaign donations far below the legal limit, rejecting corporate support, and qualifying for the ballot the grassroots way with hundreds of citizen petitions.

I was raised to believe that politics is not an end in itself but a means to the end of “liberty and justice for all.” I believe that public service must come before party and that no person, however long in office, is automatically entitled to the public trust. 

Daniel Weeks of Nashua is a Democratic candidate for Executive Council in District 5.

Categories: Opinion