Voters appear to approve of Executive Council, return all incumbents

Adam Drapcho, GSNC

With about three-fourths of votes accounted for as of 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, it seems that the state’s next Executive Council will look a lot like the current one, as all incumbents held a lead.

If the numbers hold, it will mean that Republicans will again hold a four-to-one advantage on the council, which is tasked with approving state contracts and approving appointments to state agencies and judgeships.

The slimmest of margins was in the first district Executive Council race, where incumbent Joe Kenney, a Republican, was holding onto a lead of less than 1,400 over Democratic challenger Dana Hilliard. Kenney had a 50.7% share of the vote, with 77% reporting, and he was feeling optimistic on Wednesday morning, based on which communities had filed their results.

“Now that all the city votes are in, I’m feeling confident that we’ll win this,” Kenney said. Should he carry the victory, it would be his fifth term serving on the Executive Council.

As a result of the recent redistricting, his district gained 11 new communities, including several cities, and he had about six weeks to campaign in those communities before the vote on Tuesday.

“I am fortunate to have pulled out what I believe will be a win,” Kenney said, thanking his supporters and those who worked to help reinstate him. “I’m looking forward to re-energize, get back into the district and helping solve problems for folks.”

Kenney said he heard from voters that the costs of energy, inflation and reproductive rights were on their minds this election. He feels that his apparent win, which came in the same vote that a Republican Governor was handily re-elected and Democrats were favored to serve in federal offices, showed that voters were thinking more about a candidate’s track record than about their party affiliation.

“The great thing about New Hampshire is that voters typically know who they’re voting for, they are familiar with the name and the work of the people they’re voting for. They know I work very hard for my district.” Kenney listed recent investments made in housing programs, broadband infrastructure and childcare. “We’ve directed a lot of money toward our needs for New Hampshire, the future looks bright.”

Kenney congratulated Hilliard for what he called a “tough race.” “He gave me a lot of things to think about, it’s great to have a challenger that makes you work a little bit harder.”

In the second district, Cinde Warmington, the lone Democrat incumbent, held a 59.8% lead over challenger Harold French, with 80% of the vote reported.

In district 3, with 70% of the vote reported, Janet Stevens held a 54.6% advantage over Katherine Harake.

Ted Gatsas, the district 4 incumbent, was holding a 51.9% lead over Kevin Cavanaugh, with 80% reporting.

In district 5, incumbent Dave Wheeler garnered 51.2% of votes, with 76% reporting, over Shoshanna Kelly.

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