Monthly Archives: August 2011

Senate and Congressional Candidate Forum in Salem

On August 26th, Republican candidates for the United States Senate and New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District participated in a live televised forum at the Salem Community Television studio. Senate candidates Tom Alciere, Jim Bender and Ovide Lamontagne answered a half a dozen questions from two local reporters, a representative from the Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce and the moderator, Bernard Campbell, as did Congressional candidates Bob Giuda, Jennifer Horn and Wes Sonner. Notably absent were the Democratic candidates and the likely GOP front-runner Charlie Bass.

Economic reform, unemployment, the war in Afghanistan, immigration, federal funding for the I-93 corridor from the state line to Manchester, education, health care and energy policy were among the issues discussed.

The forum began with the Senate candidates. In his opening statement Mr. Alciere conveyed his wish that anyone without an understanding of the Doctrine of Enumerated Powers refrain from voting, as they are unqualified to do so. This was a recurring theme for Mr. Alciere throughout the evening. On the question of job creation Mr. Alciere believes that small businesses are spending too much time complying with tax codes and eliminating federal burdens on small businesses will assist in job creation. All three Senate candidates agreed that tax and regulatory reform are necessary for job creation.

Both Mr. Alciere and Mr. Bender oppose Cap & Trade. Mr. Bender said, “Cap & Trade is a job killer”. Mr. Lamontagne believes that the United States needs to reduce our dependence on foreign oil as a national security measure.

Less government interference was discussed by all three candidates. On the question of their positions on the federal S.A.F.E. Act, both Mr. Bender and Mr. Lamontagne would vote to repeal it. Mr. Lamontagne said, “This is a classic example of government overreaction.” The S.A.F.E. Act was a federal initiative to attempt to stall the rising number of foreclosures by providing a number of consumer protections that also requires loan originators to maintain accurate information in a national database.

If elected, all three candidates would vote to repeal the health care reform bill. “Nothing that is 2,750 pages can possibly be understood,” said Mr. Bender. Mr. Lamontagne’s solutions include decentralizing and allowing insurance companies to spread across state lines. Mr. Bender suggested health care should be less expensive and recommends looking into tort reform as a means to lower costs.

Mr. Alciere is the founder of the Libertarian Church and is a resident of Hudson. Mr. Bender is a businessman who “believes in the American Dream”. He resides in Hollis. Mr. Lamontagne, an attorney, asserts that he is “the only true conservative” in the race. He resides in Manchester.

The congressional candidates began the next panel with opening statements. Mr. Sonner stated, “Our government is broken. Politicians have stolen the voice of the American citizens.” All three congressional candidates agree that there needs to be a dramatic shift in Washington. Mrs. Horn believes term limits and terminating congressional pensions should be a priority. Mr. Giuda strongly believes the need for politicians with a solid understanding of the processes in Washington to be the ones to change Washington. “Experience matters”, he said.

Cutting taxes was proposed by all three candidates for economic reform. Mr. Sonner suggested a flat, fair consumption tax capped at no more than twenty percent in lieu of income taxes. All three candidates agreed that the bailouts were a mistake. Mrs. Horn said, “There is no such thing as too big to fail”. Mr. Giuda believes we need to reduce government regulations on businesses as a policy to promote economic reform.

Mr. Giuda believes the war in Afghanistan is an attempt to force democracy on those who violently oppose democracy. He adds that in his discussions with injured returning troops, they are not clear on the mission in Afghanistan. Mr. Sonner’s brother is currently serving in Afghanistan and reports in his correspondence that his attention has turned to community-building instead of chasing terrorists. Mrs. Horn believes the war in Afghanistan should be about chasing terrorist where they live and train.

Both Mr. Giuda and Mrs. Horn agree that the United States should adopt a more strategic screening process for air travel, such as the Israeli system. Mr. Sonner said, “I can answer that in one word: profile”. The Israeli national airline has not been attacked in thirty years and has never been high jacked. The Israeli model relies heavily upon profiling and extensive personnel training.

On the issue of energy independence, Mr. Sonner stated that the United States should be the Middle East equivalent go-to country for alternative energy. He suggests we encourage new alternative energy development and incentivize business to invest in new technologies. Both Mrs. Horn and Mr. Giuda agree that energy dependence needs to be a priority. Mrs. Horn supports tax cuts across the board to companies investing in research and development, while Mr. Giuda believes nuclear power is a viable option, as is drilling in Alaska.

While all three candidates agree that the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina was inadequate, Mr. Giuda also feels there is no constitutional responsibility for the federal government to respond to natural disasters and pointed out that many failures were also made at the local and state levels. He believes federal, local and state government roles need to be reevaluated. Mr. Sonner was a bit more heated on this topic. He stated “The federal government performed horribly. The government was playing politics with people’s lives.”

Mrs. Horn believes federal funding should be provided to complete construction on the I-93 corridor from the state line to Manchester and that it “will bring economic possibilities to New Hampshire”. Mr. Giuda opposes that view and stated the federal government should “only appropriate funds for what is necessary”.

Mr. Giuda, a former FBI agent, is a commercial airline pilot. He resides in Warren. Nashua resident Mrs. Horn is a former talk radio host. Mr. Sonner is a software engineer residing in Mont Vernon.

The primary election will be held on September 14th.