Meet the Candidates (Continued)

Ben MacKillop

State Senate Candidates

Rebecca Perkins-Kwoka

Rebecca Perkins-Kwoka is the Democratic nominee for New Hampshire’s 21st senate district. She has previously served on Portsmouth’s city council and this is her first race for a state-level office. 

Perkins-Kwoka, a Cornell law school graduate, has been a green energy lawyer for over 10 years. Her most important issue areas are affordable housing and promoting green energy in New Hampshire. 

“New Hampshire is far behind the rest of New England in renewable energy,” Perkins-Kwoka said. “In Concord, I will fight to bring more renewable energy to the Granite State, upgrade our grid, and build a sustainable future for all of us.” 

While not a key point of her campaign, she has also highlighted that she would be the first openly LGBTQ woman elected to the New Hampshire state senate. 

“I believe that I had demonstrated leadership on some of the key issues facing our state, and in particular issues that affect young people. As a green energy lawyer and affordable housing advocate, as well as someone still paying off student loans who grew up working in a small business, I will fight for a sustainable, greener future where everyone can afford to live here in New Hampshire,” Perkins-Kwoka said. 

Perkins-Kwoka is endorsed by 603 Forward and New Hampshire Youth Movement, two organizations that focus on issues that young people care about in New Hampshire. 

Sue Polidura

Sue Polidura is the Republican nominee for New Hampshire’s 21st senate district. This is Polidura’s first run for elected office.  

Polidura, born and raised in Puerto Rico, is a United States Air Force veteran and has lived in Portsmouth for more than 40 years serving at the Pease Air Force Base. Now retired, Polidura is looking to serve her community as state senator. 

One of her proudest accomplishments within her community is helping to preserve the North cemetery in Portsmouth, where she gives free tours. She also worked on a project that allowed Portsmouth residents to park in the downtown city garage for only $3 during winter storm emergencies. 

Polidura’s most important issue areas are supporting small businesses through the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as well as maintaining low business taxes so that small businesses can thrive. This is especially important, she says, as the winter is threatening to shut down restaurants if COVID-19 restrictions are reinstated.  

She also uses her focus on small businesses as a pitch to college students. 

“So, when you graduate from UNH, you want a job. And the best way to guarantee that you’re going to get a job is to make a favorable environment,” Polidura said. “About 90% of the jobs are created by small businesses, and they have really been put at risk because of COVID.” 

Polidura also highlighted the difficulties of campaigning during the pandemic and putting a new focus on social media as a way to connect to younger people.  

“I think that our job is just a tool on the way of finding your calling. Because you ever happy is when you’re doing what you’re called to do. And by no and all saying goes, do what you love. And you’ll never have to work a day in your life,” Polidura said.  

Two of the State Rep Candidates

Tim Horrigan: 

Tim Horrigan is running for reelection for the New Hampshire House of Representatives, where he currently sits as a Democrat from the Stafford 6 district. Horrigan has held this position since 2010. He has also served as the representative from Strafford 7 in 2008 until his resignation in 2010.  

Horrigan is a native of Durham. His father, James Horrigan, worked for 30 years as an Accounting and Finance Professor at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). Horrigan’s father would also serve as a New Hampshire state representative during the 1980s. Meanwhile, Horrigan’s mother and one of his sisters are both alumni and former staffers at UNH.  

His intimate connection with UNH has followed Horrigan into his political career where he has made “supporting UNH (and higher education in general) one of [his] top priorities.” Indeed, Horrigan explained that one of his favorite things he has accomplished as a state representative was the installation of new lights at Wildcat Stadium, back when it was still referred to as Cowell Stadium. Horrigan led the effort to secure $1,000,000 in funding for the lights from the state capital budget.   

As representative, Horrigan hopes to continue fighting for voting rights, particularly student voting rights.  

“If you are a U.S. citizen aged 18 years or over, you have the right to vote in the community where you live. Students who live on campus, or in off-campus housing in the Town of Durham, are residents of Durham,” said Horrigan.  

Horrigan also criticized his Republican colleagues for “attacking” student voting and cited on his opponent’s assertions that “the only option [for students] should be to vote where [their] parents live.” Horrigan has also sponsored several pro-voting bills that have been vetoed by Governor Sununu.  

Meanwhile, Horrigan’s “door-knocking” campaigning style has been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Until a few weeks ago, the Democratic Party has done virtually no in-person events, explained Horrigan. However, Horrigan is still optimistic about youth voter turnout despite the lack of public engagement.  

“As for young and first-term voters, the unprecedented events of the past few years, especially those of this year, have energized the new generation of voters far more powerfully than anything I could do or say,” said Horrigan. “There are many reasons to feel hopeless and cynical, but the generation which is coming of age today is an idealistic and optimistic one.” 

Janet Wall:  

Janet Wall is running for reelection for the New Hampshire House of Representatives, where she currently sits as a Democrat from the Stafford 6 district. She has held this position since 1986. 

Wall cites her status as an UNH alumnus and long track record as a legislator as proof of her commitment to voters and UNH students. Wall has also visited all four colleges in the University System of New Hampshire, which includes the University of New Hampshire (UNH), Plymouth State University, Keene State College, and Granite State College, during her time on the House Education Committee and the University System Study Committee. This experience gave Wall a unique insight into the needs of university communities.  

“I met with administrators and faculty and insisted on meeting with students. I have listened to and worked together with students regarding financial aid, access to affordable healthcare upon graduation, jobs, and housing. I have a strong record supporting faculty on issues regarding quality of life, healthcare, capital budgets, and more,” said Wall.  

During her time as representative, Wall has worked on many “meaningful” issues. She highlighted her work with the Strafford Regional Planning Commission to reinstate passenger rail service with the Downeaster, which Wall described as an “economic boon” to UNH and surrounding communities. Wall has also relied on UNH research to protect New Hampshire’s Seven Rivers, Great Bay and the estuary, groundwater and to restore gravel pits for aquifer recharge.  

Wall also described the works she has done for students, such as encouraging collaboration between businesses and UNH to provide internships and research beneficial both to the economy and students. She explained the pride she felt in working to keep students on their parents’ health insurance until age 26. 

Wall hopes to continue her work as a representative through focusing on the economy, improving UNH funding, and bringing jobs to New Hampshire. She plans to encourage UNH graduates and other skilled workers to remain in the state by developing educational opportunities that will prepare them for “changing technology and societal needs,” as well as providing “accessible and affordable education, healthcare and housing.” 

Wall has tried to stay connected with voters despite the lack of in-person events due to the coronavirus pandemic, including distributing written campaign literature and hosting Zoom meetings. Wall encourages voters to contact her through Facebook, her email ([email protected]) and even the phonebook. She also describes herself as a proponent of student voting, and has cosponsored and supported legislation for easier access voter registration. This had also included coordinating rides to the polls. 

Executive Councilor Candidates:

Jim Beard

Jim Beard is the Republican nominee for New Hampshire Executive Council District 2.  

He was “born and raised” in the state, and emphasized his “New Hampshire values” such as respecting elders, listening to teachers, working hard, saving money and helping neighbors.  

Beard was a pilot and worked in aviation sales and marketing in locations such as London, Paris and the Middle East. Part of his job included reviewing contracts, which he believes would be beneficial on the Executive Council.  

Eventually, Beard moved back to Lempster, New Hampshire. “After that worldwide experience. I finally reached a point where I really just wanted to get back to the small community,” he said. 

Beard served as Chair of the Library Trustees in Lempster and assisted in a complete renovation of the building. 

Beard is also a conservationist, and was chair of the Lempster Conservation Commission. He noted a proud accomplishment while on the commission, which was getting a significant portion of land put into conservation – meaning it will never be developed. The commission worked with the forest society and town council on this project. “It helps in not just our area but this whole strip of land going up to the White Mountains, all the way down through into Massachusetts for clean water for clean air, and the opportunity for the wildlife to move throughout this this area conserve land. It gives them a natural habitat,” he said. 

If elected, Beard is interested in working on the issue of transportation – not only highways but also high-speed internet, which he believes is related given the proliferation of online learning and online healthcare. 

Given restrictions due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), Beard has not been able to meet in person with voters as much as he’d like, and has utilized Zoom meetings. 

“I hope to bring my diverse background and experience to Concord in order to get things done for the people of District 2. New Hampshire is a great state, but let’s work together to make it even better,” he wrote on his campaign website.