After a long 12 hours of Southeastern Granite State voters streaming in and out of polling centers, Democrat Rebecca Perkins Kwoka defeated Republican Sue Polidura in decisive fashion to capture New Hampshire’s District 21 senate seat.
Perkins Kwoka, the first openly LGBTQ woman to be elected to the N.H. senate, took to Twitter just after 11 p.m. on election night to proclaim victory.
“With unofficial results reported out of each precinct, we are proud to declare a strong victory,” Perkins Kwoka said. “I am humbled to become the next state Senator from District 21, and grateful to the residents of Portsmouth, Durham, Madbury, Lee, Newington, Newfields, and Newmarket for electing me.”
After receiving 21,705 of the 32,436 total votes in the 21st district according to the Associated Press (AP), she replaces Martha Fuller Clark who held the position since 2012 and represented the 24th district from 2004 to 2010.
Perkins Kwoka grew up in Stratham, N.H., and later attended Dartmouth College and Cornell Law School. She supported policies that push a greener environment, lower healthcare costs, higher education funding and affordable housing.
“I ran for elected office, originally on the issue of affordable and workforce housing,” Perkins Kwoka said. “That’s something I’ve been working on for a decade, and I was part of drafting two pieces of legislation related to state level solutions on housing last year. So, I hope that those will come back this year, and in the legislature, I certainly will be pushing for that.”
The Portsmouth resident believes that the first order of business that should be handled in N.H is helping the community recover from the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“I do think that protecting people’s jobs and protecting people’s homes is unfortunately just going to be top priority,” Perkins Kwoka said. “We’ve been able to keep a lot of people employed here in New Hampshire through a combination of state and federal aid, but we’re going into the winter, where unemployment benefits that were passed at the federal level was a lot of what kept people in their homes all summer last year.”
She continued by saying that she hopes to make progress in terms of clean energy, as she believes it is a huge priority for N.H. counties, especially with the recent drought. Along with her environmental efforts, she wants to prioritize higher education funding and feels like regardless of the political makeup of the state legislature, it needs to be taken into account.
“I feel somewhat disappointed that we couldn’t maintain more balance at the state level because I do think it would be great to make sure that we’re making progress on a lot of issues that really affect people’s everyday lives…like education funding, but I think we can continue to do that work regardless of the makeup of the legislature,” Perkins Kwoka said.
Currently, according to the AP, 14 of N.H.’s 24 districts have a GOP candidate that is leading or has claimed victory.
Perkins Kwoka’s District 21 opponent, Polidura, hoped to provide “a different voice to the office.” On her campaign website she states that she “believes in strengthening New Hampshire’s legacy of a government that does not needlessly intrude on the rights of its citizens.”
Despite not getting the result she wanted, Polidura is still happy about the overall voter turnout in N.H. and is content with the current state of the N.H. senate race.
Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Perkins Kwoka