Perkins Kwoka has Abortion, Clean Energy on her Mind for Upcoming Legislative Sessions 


Perkins Kwoka at a campaign stop last weekend

Abby Owens, Mouth of the River (ORHS)

Rebecca Perkins Kwoka will again serve as the New Hampshire State Senator for Strafford County District 21, running unopposed in this year’s election. The 40-year-old looks forward to representing the people of Durham, Lee, Madbury, Newmarket, Portsmouth, Newfield, Newington and New Castle in the upcoming 2022-2024 legislative sessions.  

When Perkins Kwoka first ran for Senate in 2020, her campaign focused heavily on the state’s economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, which included visiting small businesses to analyze where they needed support and ensuring those who lost their jobs had adequate housing. But as a progressive legislator in what should be a Senate with a Republican majority, Perkins Kwoka’s focus this session will be on fighting for statewide abortion care, diving deeper into the future of renewable energy and advocating for increased student benefits like access to mental health resources and student debt reduction.   

Growing up in Stratham, New Hampshire, Perkins Kwoka always knew she would dedicate part of her life to the state she holds so close to her heart, but she never imagined becoming a state senator. Before running for the position in 2020, Perkins Kwoka’s activism led her to the Portsmouth City Council, where, for six years, she learned the ropes of public policy. A self-proclaimed nerd, Perkins Kwoka said one reason she fell in love with policymaking was all the new information she’s constantly exposed to, claiming she likes to approach her position as one big “learning opportunity.” 

“I’m just a person who likes to take in information, absorb it, process it, ask questions and that’s all you really need. It helps that I know a lot about housing and energy, but there are a whole lot of things that we legislate on. You really have to be willing to educate yourself,” said Perkins Kwoka.

One of Perkins Kwoka’s biggest priorities for the 2023 legislative session is furthering her advocacy for abortion rights. 

After New Hampshire’s first 24-week abortion ban was passed in the 2021 state budget, Perkins Kwoka became the primary sponsor for the Access to Abortion Care bill,  SB 436, which was drafted to codify Roe v. Wade into New Hampshire law. The bill failed in the senate on a 12-12 vote.  

Despite her opposition in the State Senate, Pekins Kwoka continues to work toward repealing any restrictions regarding abortion care and a woman’s right to choose. As a mother of two, who was ironically 24 weeks pregnant when the ban was passed, Perkins Kwoka firmly believes “mothers and their primary caregivers are in the best position to make decisions about their bodies and their children’s. Not politicians.”   

“I watched all these [anti-abortion] bills progress, I testified against them in committee, I tried to bring my personal experience, but they still passed through the house, and [the bill] made it through the senate floor in the budget,” said Perkins Kwoka. “It’s been a sad thing to be involved in, but it also made me feel really grateful to have ended up as state senator in this moment and to have the voice that I do in congress.” 

On top of using her legislative voice to fight for access to abortion care, Perkins Kwoka also plans to promote the use of renewable energy in New Hampshire. 

When she’s not on the senate floor, or busy mothering her two daughters alongside her wife, Perkins Kwoka works as a clean energy lawyer and is currently the Vice President at ReWild Renewables, a solar development company that strives to reduce fossil fuels through solar energy farms. As someone who has dedicated her professional life to working with renewables, Perkins Kwoka intends to use this background to champion policies regarding a statewide shift towards cleaner energy.  

Perkins Kwoka said some of the -impactful things she’s seen adopted in other states, like Massachusetts and Maine, – are -ambitious goals and procurements of renewable energy, something the New Hampshire legislature has yet to dedicate attention to.  

“A state being clear and setting these energy goals is very important,” she said. “Then [little renewable companies in this industry] can better do their jobs and can say, ‘okay, this is what’s happening in New Hampshire, and this is how we can work with them.’” 

Another thing Perkins Kwoka would like to see tackled by the Senate this session is student debt, which she explains is a difficult topic to discuss in a legislative body dominated by republicans. 

“There’s not a lot of opportunity to address student debt in a meaningful way,” she said. She believes the most impactful way the state could alleviate student debt would be to increase New Hampshire’s state funding of the university system.  

“[New Hampshire] currently funds eight to 10% of the University System budget, which is 49 in the country in terms of percentage. That leaves the rest of those funds to be made up by students and others, so bringing down costs to our students would be ideal,” said Perkins Kwoka.  

As for how she plans on accomplishing these goals, Perkins Kwoka says it all depends on the outcome of the Nov. 8 election. Even if Democrats don’t take back the House and Senate, she says she’ll continue to propose more progressive bills and seek out bipartisan consensus, noting that even as a freshman minority Senator she was still able to get 20 of her 30 sponsored bills passed. 

“It’s hard. There are things you can compromise on; there are things you cannot. Regardless of who’s sitting in those [Senate] seats, it’s not going to change whether I’m going to bring bills to congress, but it will change whether or not I can get it done,” she said. 

Although she is running unopposed, Perkins Kwoka encourages people to go to the polls and vote democrat if they want to steward New Hampshire toward a more successful future. 

“People want to be happy and free in their life, and right now we’re in a situation where people feel tied down by the cost of their housing, health concerns, lack of childcare, and low wages,” she said. “We need to stop acting like every problem will take care of itself. I think Democrats will do that; I don’t think Republicans will.”

For students looking for more information on how to vote in the upcoming election on Nov. 8, 603 Forwardoffers information on their website. Students can also access more information on how to vote by checking out the University of New Hampshire Voting page.