Candidates speak out at supper

The Brookline Democrats’ spaghetti supper, organized by two candidates for state House of Representatives, Melanie Levesque and Brian Rater, helped raise money and allowed local Democrats a chance to speak on the issues.

More than 50 people attended to hear seven candidates, current representatives and involved citizens, including two women looking to bring change to Washington, D.C., and Concord. The first of those two speakers was U.S. congressional candidate Annie McLane Kuster, who is running for the seat held by Congressman Charlie Bass.

“The country needs our help,” she said, acknowledging the stresses of the economy and social polarization within American politics.

Kuster explained the three goals she would take to Washington, D.C., if elected: economic recovery, lowering of the deficit and personal liberty.

“Education is critical,” she said.

She emphasized the need for the government to invest in a favorable climate for innovation and small business growth in New Hampshire and the country, with particular emphasis on nurturing the skills and intelligences demanded by the high technology and renewable energy companies to bring about a healthy economy.

She addressed America’s need to rejuvenate, improving the quality of its assets and infrastructure.

“And not just roads and highways,” Kuster said, as she addressed the need to bring rural areas of America, such as New Hampshire’s North Country, telecommunications.

“Can you imagine running a small business or getting a kid into college on dial-up?” she said. “And we need to do it in a smart, efficient way … not on the backs of the poor, the old and the sick. We can’t afford the tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.”

On standing up for liberty, she said, “It means that we make private and personal decisions ourselves,” as she addressed alarming attacks on women’s rights and marriage equality in New Hampshire.

However, Kuster was quick to address the need to proceed logically and with consensus from both sides of the aisle, clearly recognizing a division between the parties in recent years.

Kuster made clear her intent to work toward change in a positive manner.

“I’m born bipartisan,” she said, “and New Hampshire works best when we work together.”

After Kuster finished, the dinner guests make their way to the kitchen for pasta and one of the seven homemade sauces provided by the Brookline Democrats’ volunteers, picking up brownies and cookies on the way back to their seats.

During dinner, New Hampshire gubernatorial candidate Jackie Cilley took the stage.

Cilley talked briefly about her childhood in Berlin, growing up working class, and finding her path toward a college eduction, the American Dream, raising a family and running a business in New Hampshire.

Then she laid out her plan for getting New Hampshire back on track economically and socially with emphasis on standing strong against what many have come to view as political bullying in Concord.

“I don’t know when it became OK to stand at a microphone and call our public servants, teachers, firemen and police officers, parasites living of the back of the back of our state,” said Cilley, as she talked about reinventing the state of affairs in New Hampshire politics.

Cilley expressed concern for what appears to her to be short-sighted economics, trying to decrease New Hampshire’s immediate spending at the expense of its long-term recovery.

“They have gone after education in every single way,” she said, as she pointed to the 57 bills aimed at “disassembling education” in New Hampshire starting at the universities and cutting preschool funding.

Cilley expressed concern for education and the lack of businesses immigrating to New Hampshire in recent times.

“They’re not coming,” said Cilley, attributing a part of the decline to a stagnant and aging workforce in New Hampshire which she blames on a lack of investment in education that would make New Hampshire’s students competitive in a rapidly evolving job market.

“The lives of businesses and employees are intertwined,” she said, warning against increased cuts in educational spending she feels will increase business growth and relocation to New Hampshire.

“We are an aging state because we are driving our young people out,” she said, adding that New Hampshire’s average age is second only to Florida.

Cilley warned about the negative impact that losing the young and innovative people will have on the business community and the future of the local economy.

Her primary reasoning for the mass exodus of technology-based companies is the impact of high property taxes on home affordability and the lack of funding in the state to help develop an educated, technology-based workforce that can afford to stay. Cilley expressed concern that the latest attacks in Concord on education spending might drive even more young people out of New Hampshire.

“Here is the litmus test,” she said, referring to the financial burden of education in the state. “Nothing more on property taxpayers.” She asserted that whatever tax is used to generate revenue for the state needs to be “fair across the board,” and “it needs to fully fund the services we want,” she said.

After Cilley left the podium, Robin Peringer, a Brookline resident and Nashua public school teacher, spoke briefly about the affects of the state of the state on education, urging voters to resist the right to work movement.

Before the evening came to a close, local candidates including Rater, Levesque and Peggy Gilmour addressed the crowd with information about voting records and bills waiting in the wings. They appealed to voters for their support during the upcoming elections. And all three encouraged voters to look closely at what is happening in Concord, and vote for change this fall. To view the voting record of local senators and representatives, visit www.brooklinedemocrats.com.