OP-ED: Our State Needs New Leadership

OP-ED: Our State Needs New Leadership

As printed in the NH Union Leader on Thursday, March 24, 2016
Authored by Mayor Ted Gatsas

Leadership matters. Solutions matter. Getting things done matters. That is why I am running for Governor of the State of New Hampshire.

The Granite State needs a governor who is willing to stand up and fight for the interests of its citizens. We need a governor who will bring executive experience to the Corner Office to get big things done. We need a governor with vision to propel New Hampshire forward and restore the New Hampshire Advantage.

It is time we have a governor in the Corner Office that not only recognizes our challenges, but also believes that – with the right leadership – our challenges are not insurmountable if we work together to forge solutions.

As mayor of our state’s largest city, I have seen first hand the effects of the heroin and opioid epidemic; the negative impact of delays in infrastructure improvement projects seemingly stuck in political paralysis; the consequences of federal intrusion into the state, and the state into our local community. I have had to make the difficult accommodations in our city budget to account for the constant downshifting of costs that comes from Concord onto the shoulders of our local communities.

These problems are not going away. It’s time for leadership and it’s time for solutions.

First and foremost, we must address the opioid crisis facing our state. I have repeatedly called for a declaration of a State of Emergency in regards to this epidemic. We must make sure that dealers are being handed the maximum sentence – attempted murder. We must re-evaluate the current law that prohibits police from arresting suspects at an overdose situation and we must make “Drug Court” a reality everywhere in our state.

Mental health issues associated with addiction must be addressed and this begins with getting the new wing at the New Hampshire Hospital online and staffed. We must also make sure that options for detox and recovery are easily and readily available at the local level and that the state is a responsive and reliable partner.

We have a public health emergency and we must recognize it. Babies are being born addicted to heroin, grandparents are raising children of users and these children are requiring continued special education services. Declaring such an emergency is just the beginning of raising awareness for our voiceless victims.

As Governor I will address our skyrocketing electric rates. New Hampshire consumers suffer some of the highest rates. The consumer pays for it, businesses pay for it, every municipality pays for it and the state itself, pays for it.

We can stop this by finding proactive solutions that save taxpayers money. In Manchester, by converting our streetlights to LED, we reduced the annual electricity costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is a common-sense solution we can achieve at the state level.

As we discuss the proposed energy development projects, a focus must be on the savings to the taxpayer. New Hampshire needs to retain a percentage of power generated in state, rather than sending it to the regional grid. Let’s put New Hampshire families, businesses and communities first and get rates reduced.

When it comes to education, we must increase and ensure local control before our communities lose their individual identities.

As Mayor, I also serve as the Chairman of the School Board and I have seen first hand how our very own Department of Education has abandoned this belief in exchange for a top down bureaucratic approach. Our children are our greatest resource and nobody knows how better to educate our children than parents and local communities. We need leadership in the Corner Office to make sure Washington knows it and Concord believes it.

When it comes to taxes: I will never support an income or sales tax and I will veto any bill that proposes an income tax or a sales tax. New Hampshire has a clear economic advantage when it comes to our tax structure and it must be protected.

This is just the beginning. I am both excited and energized about the campaign ahead. In the coming days, weeks and months I will be in your communities listening and visiting with you about the issues facing our state.

As your Governor, we will end the practice of a fractured Concord and provide solutions for the challenges we face.

I hope to earn your support so I may bring my experience and leadership from City Hall, to the State House.