By Melissa Proulx, Staff Writer
With all the different issues relating to the way our state is run being brought to the forefront of this election season, one voice is saying that the focus should be entirely on working together, regardless of party dominations.
“Really, I think we need to focus on non-partisanship and focus on solutions that are going to help the people of New Hampshire,” said Phil Nazzaro, the Republican candidate for the District 21 Senate seat in the state.
If he is elected come the Tuesday, Nov. 4 election, this approach he explained during an interview with The New Hampshire’s editorial staff will be used when working on things like the economy, energy and education the three main areas he believes can have the most impact on residents.
Though a registered Republican candidate, Nazzaro said that he plans on being an independent voice if he is elected, despite the pressure that he expects could be put on him to pick a side.
“Just by putting the ‘R’ after my name, I am fighting against a ton of stereotypes about what is a republican,” Nazzaro said. “Bottom line is, I’m a conservative and running as a republican because of the philosophy of economic freedom. If you look throughout history, it’s the one that helps the most people. I certainly want to ensure the 99 percent are doing well, not just the one percent.”
The main reason, he explained, that he chose to run with a party rather than as an independent is due to the financial benefit.
“The math is what forces you to have to choose a party … To have access to fundraisers, you need to run as a party, period,” he said, adding that the campaign finance reform is necessary now more than ever.
Though running for the Republicans, he said that he holds liberal opinions on social issues. Nazzaro, who served for 10 years in the Army and toured as a detachment commander forward in Afghanistan in 2003, said that he is pro-choice, pro-gay marriage and wants to end “the prohibition of marijuana.”
And as one of the younger candidates running in this mid-term election, he said his focus has shifted heavily towards solving the problems surrounding education in the state due to the fact that he “is supposed to be the voice of the younger generation.”
“New Hampshire students per capita, on average, have the highest debt load in the country,” Nazzaro said. “That is ridiculous; we need to change that.”
According to the Project on Student Debt’s website, New Hampshire ranks number two for the average debt with an average outstanding balance of $32,698. For University of New Hampshire students, this balance is a little higher, coming out to be $35,168.
This is what Nazzaro believes sets him apart from his opponent for the district seat that consists of Durham, Lee, Madbury, Newfields, Newington, Newmarket and Portsmouth. Currently, the seat is held by Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, a democrat who has held the position since 2012.
Before this, Fuller Clark served as senator for District 24, which covers Greenland, Hampton, Hampton Falls, Kensington, New Castle, Newton, North Hampton, Rye, Seabrook, South Hampton and Stratham from 2004 until 2010. According to the results from the 2012 general election’s post on the Secretary of State’s website, Fuller Clark beat her opponent, Peter MacDonald, by 11,066 votes.
“It’s not to say that there’s not value in long-term service,” said Nazzaro, who commended Fuller Clark on the work she’s done in the past. “But it’s to say that if we keep having the same people having the same conversations in Concord, where are we going to get the new ideas, where are we going to get the innovations to occur, the outside-of-the-box thinking that we need?”
In the end though, Nazzaro just hopes that students make the effort to get to the polls.
“I think it’s important for students to vote. I think it’s crucial,” he said. “I hope to get your votes, but just the fact you go and vote is the most important thing.”