Cook On Concord: Thoughts as Election Day approaches

In 1958, when I was 10, my grandparents moved to Richmond, Va., where my grandfather’s job with the Eskimo Pie Corporation had been transferred from New Jersey. Traveling there for Thanksgiving, I noticed either on the eastern shore of Maryland or in the northern part of Virginia an establishment called the Blue Bird Motel. It looked rather rundown and poor and I inquired of my parents what it was.

“That’s the motel where the Negroes have to stay,” my father responded. To this day I remember thinking how dumb that was and how something should be done about it.

Fifty years later, not a long time in the history of nations or societies, a candidate of African-American heritage seems poised to be elected president of the United States. Whether one is for or against the policies embraced by the Barack Obama/Joe Biden ticket, the change represented by Senator Obama’s candidacy is evidence of encouraging fundamental change in America of which we all should be proud, no matter how we are going to vote.

Balanced against this is the personal angst of a John McCain supporter who thought he should have been nominated and elected in the year 2000. Had that been the case, where we would be today is unknown, but it is safe to say we would be in a different set of circumstances than we find ourselves as a nation.

While the selection of Governor Palin may have energized some parts of the base, ultimately it will be shown to have been a drag on the ticket. It sure is a drag on my vote.

Whether John McCain can produce a miracle, whether his reputation for miraculous resurrection of campaigns can be repeated or whether the tide that seems to be coming will sweep Democrats into office has yet to be seen.

What is clear is that the time between now and Election Day needs to be a time of reflection by each voter as the stakes in the presidential election are huge.

In New Hampshire, the apparent sentiment for the national Democratic ticket creates some ironies worthy of thought prior to voting. Prime among these is the election that pits Sen. John Sununu against former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen. Both of these public servants are distinguished, bright, able, and they present a contrast in policies as well as personality.

While taking nothing away from Governor Shaheen, it would be ironic if the clearly acknowledged bright and diligent Sununu, the youngest U.S. senator, were defeated because of the national tide. Many observers have noted the effectiveness of split government in Washington and the need to keep a significant Republican presence in Congress if government is to work as designed. Losing Sununu would not help.

In the congressional races, whether 2006 was a one-party landslide or sign of future trends will be tested as freshmen Congressmen Carol Shea-Porter and Paul Hodes seek election to a second term, traditionally the only time an incumbent congressperson faces the real possibility of defeat.

Hodes appears to be in good shape against Jennifer Horn, a relative unknown whose funding is significantly lower than Hodes. In the 1st District, former Congressman Jeb Bradley, an able legislator, seeks to regain his seat. While apparently a decent person, no one claims that Shea-Porter has distinguished herself as a congresswoman, and her accidental incumbency will be tested in November.


Filling out an absentee ballot with an older voter recently pointed out the interesting phenomenon of the multi-district system in the New Hampshire House.

The district in which the absentee ballot was being cast had five representatives, which meant there were five Republicans and five Democrats on the ballot.

In reviewing the ballot the voter knew none of the candidates. Rather than skipping the House section, the voter instead chose all five of the candidates in the party of the voter’s registration. This, despite the fact that one or more of the candidates could have been a “placeholder” put on the ballot just to fill the spots or an activist from the right or the left not sharing the voter’s “centrist” philosophy.

How many representatives are elected to the House in these multi-member districts based on lack of knowledge, party affiliation or guessing is unknown. What is not the subject of speculation is the fact that the larger the number of representatives in a district, the greater potential for uninformed voting.

An additional burden seems to be the cost of running for a seat in one of the huge districts. This system needs adjustment.


The Manchester Region of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation recently honored three individuals for Lifetime of Service Award and an Emerging Leader Award.

Alan and Joan Reische of Manchester, longtime supporters of such charitable causes as CASA, the PTA, the League of Women Voters, local schools and a host of others, received the Lifetime of Service Award, presented by Governor Lynch and regional Chair Alice DeSouza. Nick Soggu, president of Silvertech, received the Emerging Leader Award.

Gracious, humble and eloquent, Soggu accepted the award, complimented the Reisches, and everyone present was impressed by his resumé and accomplishments at the young age of 34. This was well-deserved recognition for all three.

Brad Cook is a partner in the Manchester law firm of Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green and heads its government relations and estate planning groups. He also serves as secretary of the Business and Industry Association.