Opinion: Vote for those rooted in serving the people, communities of our state

In this file photo from Jan. 3, 2019, the House of Representatives chamber is seen on the first day of the 116th Congress. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, file)

In this file photo from Jan. 3, 2019, the House of Representatives chamber is seen on the first day of the 116th Congress. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, file) Courtesy—AP

By DEBORAH REYNOLDS, POLLY CAMPION and SUE FORD

Published: 05-11-2024 8:00 AM

Former State Senator Deborah Reynolds, Plymouth. Former State Representative Polly Campion, Etna. Former State Representative Sue Ford, Easton.

As we head into campaign season, and with Congresswoman Annie Kuster’s retirement this fall, New Hampshire’s second congressional district will be an open seat race for the first time in over a decade.

As voters, let’s begin this race with a promise to each other: that this race will be decided by the people of New Hampshire’s second congressional district, and not by wealth or powerful interests far outside of New Hampshire.

It’s no secret that powerful interests have affected our democracy at almost every level, but that is not the New Hampshire way. This open seat race is a chance for us to ensure that our next representative is someone who has been here, shoulder-to-shoulder, fighting alongside us in New Hampshire for the issues that matter to the people of our district for decades.

Each of us has worn this responsibility ourselves, earned the support of New Hampshire voters, and taken that charge seriously. Public service isn’t about being the smartest one in the room or having the most powerful friends. It’s about knowing the towns and the cities you represent deeply; about having genuine relationships with neighbors, voters and community leaders that inform your views; it’s about building ties that begin through shared service.

This should be especially true for the People’s House, the United States House of Representatives.

A large part of Annie Kuster’s success was her decades of work on behalf of the people of this district before she was ever elected. Each of us knew her for years prior to her run for Congress. We knew her from her advocacy for reproductive rights in the State House, from her presence in our communities, from campaigning together for causes we believed in.

New Hampshire is a stubborn, independent state, and we’re proud of it. We don’t take kindly to people who come here, like Scott Brown, when the first time they introduce themselves to us it is to ask for our vote so they can spend more time in Washington.

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So in this race, regardless of who you support, take the time to ask: what has each candidate done for your town? Your community? Are they building support at the local level, with grassroots volunteers and state leaders who have been their allies in tough fights in the past for the people of our state? Is their campaign about themself, or is it about you?

New Hampshire gets a lot right. We’re far from perfect, but part of the unique recipe of our state is the close relationship between everyday voters, community leaders, and elected officials. From town meetings to our First In the Nation primary, to our volunteer legislators, to our tight-knit communities, we believe in grassroots campaigns and we hold our leaders to a higher standard. We’ve seen the alternative in Washington, D.C. and frankly, we don’t like it very much.

There is no question that our democracy is under threat today. Extremists from the far right are breaking things as best they can, and too often, very powerful interests in Washington rig things for themselves at the expense of everyone else.

But our Constitution and our democracy provide a wonderful antidote: representative self-governance. We have been through worse as a nation, and we have gotten better and stronger through it, but it depends on leaders whose center of gravity rests with the people, not with power.

As we choose a new member of Congress in New Hampshire in 2024, let’s choose a new representative we know we can count on, one who knows us, and one whose life is rooted in serving the people and communities of our state.