The Race to Congress

This past primary cycle has brought forward a candidate from each party who will make history if they win the New Hampshire District One seat on the United States Congress. The candidates are Eddie Edwards, the Republican nominee, as the first black New Hampshire Congressman, and Chris Pappas, the Democratic nominee, as the first openly gay New Hampshire Congressman.  Despite the differences that originate along the party lines, each candidate looks to the future and the youth, in hopes of  bettering the state.

New Hampshire has two Congressional Districts; each has its own representative in the United States House of Representatives. District One includes the southeastern part of the state, while District Two takes the northwestern counties. The candidates from District One are competing to claim the seat formerly occupied by Carol Shea-Porter, the retiring District One Representative from the Democratic Party. As covered by Joe Morrell on September 20th, each candidate spoke at a journalism conference with students at Oyster River High School on issues the students were most interested in. Read more about the conference here.

Chris Pappas

Chris Pappas, was born and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire. He attended Central High School and went on to study at Harvard University. He then returned to New Hampshire to run his family business, the Puritan Backroom, a restaurant in Manchester, New Hampshire.

His experiences in high school led him to an interest in politics. During the student journalism conference, he explained: “I was at a school and in a system that I didn’t think was valued and we didn’t see a lot of resources being put into public education in Manchester.”

He brought attention to the lack of resources first as a writer for his high school newspaper and later as a State Representative and member of the New Hampshire Executive Council. Pappas remains an advocate for additional resources for public schools. As his official website explains, Pappas is in favor of providing, tuition-free public and community colleges, and more Pell Grants. He also wants to encourage students to attend career technical programs.

Pappas suggested revisiting the current tax legislature to increase our ability to provide for our students. He stated, “we gave billionaires special interest and big corporations a massive tax cut: one and a half trillion dollars over the next ten years.” He added, “I think that what we should be doing is investing in this country in a way that can help more people reach the middle class and help grow our economy.”

Students at the conference were especially interested in the candidates’ views on gun control laws. Pappas expressed the importance of protecting both the people and the Second Amendment. He said that there are “steps we can take to preserve the rights of gun owners in New Hampshire but can allow us to address the situation in a way that can save lives and keep our community safe.” Pappas explained that passing gun control laws is difficult because “Congress is in the pockets of the NRA.”

Pappas often advocated for federal intervention, and his views on drug laws proved no different. Pappas stated that “one of the most important things we did in New Hampshire, in a bipartisan way, was implement Medicaid expansion.” He also expressed a need for more federal funds going to treatment centers. “They can’t do this based on bake-sales alone. They need more stable funding coming out of Washington.”

Pappas spoke on the importance of supporting law enforcement, educating the public on the dangers of substance abuse, and working with physicians to end over-prescribing.  He stated, “we need to hold the drug companies and the drug distributors to account.” He explained, “they need to come to the table and help fund a solution.”

Many high school students are directly impacted by the minimum wage. As New Hampshire is in the minority of states which currently uses the Federal minimum of 7.25 an hour; students were curious whether the future might hold higher wages. Pappas advocated for raising it, saying, “we need to reward hard work.” He added that New Hampshire ends up losing out to neighboring states because some young people choose to work in Massachusetts or Maine where the minimum wage is higher.

With growing movements to decrease plastic usage and conserve resources, students were interested to hear Pappas’ thoughts on the government’s role in climate change.  Pappas is a strong advocate for renewable energy and involving the federal government. “Climate change is real and it is caused by human factors[…]We’ve got to try to put fossil fuels in the rearview mirror.”

Ruth Campbell, an avid Pappas supporter and professor at the University of New Hampshire, shared why she believes Pappas is the right choice for Congress. “He’s lived here all his life and he knows the state very well,” she said.  In reference to his defense of Planned Parenthood and his actions as a member of the Executive Council, she said, “he has a service track record of getting things done for New Hampshire.”

Campbell, who’s met Pappas on several occasions, including at events she’s hosted in support of him, described him as a “very likable person. He is not nasty, he always responds respectfully, and my experience is that if you ask him a question, he actually listens to you.”

Eddie Edwards

Republican candidate Eddie Edwards lived in Atlanta, Georgia during high school. He was raised by his grandmother after witnessing his mother suffer domestic abuse at the hands of his father. Edwards is a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He’s also a former United States Navy veteran and Chief of Police of South Hampton, during which time he was often faced with the impact of the opioid epidemic. For the past 30 years, Edwards has lived in Dover, New Hampshire where he raised his two daughters.

Student interest in the candidate’s views on how to deal with education revealed that Edwards is interested in providing “greater choice” in our education system. This includes encouraging students to attend trade schools and online universities. He also advocates for lowering student loan interest. He was sympathetic to the dilemma facing college-bound students, saying, “we put a debt on you and we refused to work with you on it.”

Another hotly contested topic of high importance to students was gun control. Edwards believes gun control is an issue for the states to resolve and that New Hampshire is doing it well. He thought that we should allow the state to continue what it’s doing, “because our issues here, in New Hampshire, are very different than you see in Texas, California, and Florida.”

Edwards suggested several issues that he thought would be better solved outside of the federal government, including issues surrounding drugs. Edwards’ beliefs on the opioid epidemic stemmed from his extensive background in dealing with substance abuse. “We’re somewhat targeted by the pharmaceutical industry […] I don’t think we shift that burden back to taxpayers, I think we shift that burden back to where it originated; the pharmaceutical industries should be paying for this.”

Edwards expressed that to solve the issue, the country needs to change its approach. “We’ve taken a medical problem and turned it into a criminal justice problem […]Congress has failed us on this issue.” He emphasized the importance of intervention on a smaller, more personal level, “this is much more of an issue for families and communities to start getting involved in.”

He explained that a solution “starts with making sure we’re not putting our young people on medication too early […] We’re using medicine as a way to control behavior. We’re using medicine as a way to relieve a lot of hidden scars.”

Beth Varney is a friend and supporter of Edwards who also works in the Lakes Region campaign office. Varney commented on Edwards strongest attributes, saying, “Eddie is one of the most honest and amazing men with such great integrity that you could ever meet. He’s the real deal, he’s just an all-around fantastic person.”

Derek Dufresne, a RightVoter constituent, has worked on the Edwards’ campaign trail for more than a year and spoke on why he personally supported Edwards. “He’s been a great guy […] He has an incredible life story, right positions on the issues, and I think would make a great Congressman.”

Dufresne spoke to the results of Edwards’ trying childhood. He stated, “the sounds, and the lights, and the sirens of police cruisers gave him the security and know that his mother was going to be safe […] Just like anyone, your life story helps shape who you are as an adult.” Edwards and Dufresne both pointed to the influence of the safety he felt with police cruisers as the source of his sympathy towards our armed forces.

Edwards poetically summed up his vision for the nation by saying, “you may not be born on first base, second base, or third base, but you’ll always get the chance to bat in this country.”

Your voice is important, so make sure you vote in the elections this coming Tuesday, November 6th. Oyster River high school will be open to Durham residents from 7am to 7pm, for more information visit the town website. For information about how to vote in Madbury visit the Madbury website, and for information about how to vote in Lee visit the Lee website.