Dan Feltes, a former legal aid attorney, said this is “the most consequential election in United States history,” and told students “it’s on us” to make change. He encouraged students to vote, to get their friends to vote, and their friends, and so on.
Feltes gave his input on issues brought up by students, ranging from reproductive freedom in New Hampshire to education reform, gun violence prevention and clean energy. He also emphasized areas in which he believes his Republican opponent, Gov. Chris Sununu, has made errors in his position, particularly in his use of vetoes.
Feltes said it is important to be able to listen to and work with each other, regardless of political affiliation, by using the art of compromise. He said it wouldn’t be “my way or the highway,” if he were to be elected.
“The problem here,” Feltes said, “in New Hampshire, is not a problem of people working together, as I said in the debate Monday night, it’s not a Republican problem or a Democrat problem, it’s a Chris Sununu problem.”
Feltes cited Sununu’s record 79 vetoes – 65 of which were bipartisan bills, he said – while in office as Governor, corroborated by New Hampshire Public Radio’s “NH Veto Tracker,” updated as recently as Sept. 19, 2020.
On reproductive freedom, Feltes said he will sign the bill he worked on, the Reproductive Healthcare Parity Act that “requires insurance companies to cover reproductive healthcare in a reasonable way,” if he is elected. He said he is pro-choice, similar to Sununu, and that “New Hampshire deserves a pro-choice Governor.” Feltes also said he’s going to nominate a pro-choice woman to the New Hampshire Supreme Court. He said that it is going to be “on the states to stand up for choice and reproductive healthcare,” if Roe v. Wade is overturned in the near future.
Feltes mentioned five “common sense initiatives” including legislation intended to contribute to gun violence prevention in New Hampshire, all of which he said were vetoed by Sununu. Feltes listed universal background checks, gun-free school zones, extreme risk protection orders, a law that protects senior citizens being harassed or exploited, and a “common sense” waiting period that Feltes said helps reduce suicides (New Hampshire has the third-highest growing rate in the country and the highest growing rate of teen suicide, according to Feltes).
Feltes also touched on climate change: “It’s time to accept our responsibility to combat the climate crisis right here in New Hampshire,” Feltes said. To do so, he said his goal is to become fossil free by 2030, citing his clean energy plan “Green Jobs, Green Future,” on his campaign website. The plan involves a few key components including dealing with clean energy in “three sectors,” electricity, transportation, and thermal heating. One method he mentioned was one put into work in Maine by Gov. Janet Mills, using heat pumps to safely transition peoples’ homes from natural gas or heat.
Answering a question about incentivizing young people to stay in the state, Feltes said the state needs to do targeted student debt relief for individuals who graduate community college or four-year universities. In addition, he said paid family medical leave insurance should be implemented like states around New Hampshire for young people trying to start a family and more: “and it’s not just about having a new kid, it’s about caretaking for a loved one, it’s about getting treatment for opioid addiction, it’s about COVID,” he said.
Paid family medical leave insurance would be one of the first pieces of vetoed legislation Feltes would bring back first if elected: “it’s critical, particularly in a pandemic,” he said. It’s something we have to go forward on, he said, to ensure someone doesn’t have to choose between their work and their family.
Feltes finished the meeting by mentioning the top thing he wants voters to know about him: “Dan comes from a working class family, looked out for ordinary folks as a legal aid lawyer, and in the state senate did the same thing,” he said.
Election Day will take place at Durham’s Oyster River High School on 55 Coe Drive.
Photo Courtesy of Dan Feltes