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November 4, 2016

To The Daily Sun,

In his crafty letter of Nov. 2, attempting to deflect attention from his voting record, Ray Howard states that he is “not a politician.” This non-politician has run for Cemetery Commission, chair of the Cemetery Commission, state House of Representatives, and state House of Representatives again. His letter begins with thanks to the voters of Belknap County, and ends with a plea for our support. Not a politician?

More importantly, the only issue from my letter that he addresses is the opioid crisis and he voted against all of the bills attempting to deal with the problem. The vast majority of his fellow Republicans supported the measures, which passed by large margins. So when Rep. Howard states that his votes “are in line with the Republican platform,” I can only respond that his votes are not in line with the actual voting of the the Republican-led House. And what exactly does Mr. Howard think should be done about the drug problem? Apparently nothing.

Tell that to the mother who lost her son to an overdose. Tell that to the local business that gets burglarized by addicts. Tell that to the taxpayers who have to pay increased law enforcement and jail costs because of the problem. If Belknap County did not want to address this problem, then it should not have voted for the new corrections center, but should instead have voted for a larger jail to house the inevitably greater inmate population. (Parenthetically, Ray Howard voted for the corrections center, but clearly had no idea what he was voting for.)

Mr. Howard carefully avoids mentioning Meals on Wheels. If this is a program that only a liberal Democrat could support, then that will be surprising news to my Republican friends. Most Belknap County residents want seniors to be able to remain in their homes as long as feasible, and enthusiastically support programs such as Meals on Wheels and senior medical transportation with that goal in mind. Rep. Howard, on the other hand, would yank away that helping hand and leave seniors adrift.

So who is the outlier here, this liberal Democrat or Ray Howard? He is to the far right of his own party, even in this heavily-Republican area. His policies, if enacted, will cost us all dearly in the long run.

Finally, as for Mr. Howard’s swipe at me regarding Gunstock, it is simply another attempt to distract Belknap County voters from his own sorry voting record by misrepresenting a vote I took as a Gunstock commissioner. In that capacity, I took an oath to protect Gunstock in furtherance of the public interest, to do everything in my power to make sure Gunstock remains an asset to, not a liability of the county. Raiding the coffers of Gunstock to pay for things like more corrections officers at the county jail would be completely contrary to the laws that set up Gunstock and provided safeguards against the delegation taking such action.

It should be noted that neither I nor any other Gunstock commissioner voted to, as Representative Howard claimed, “not reimburse the county taxpayers the millions of tax dollars that were used in 2001 to bail out Gunstock when it was insolvent.” The inaccuracy of his statement shows a complete lack of knowledge of the relationship between Gunstock and the county, and a total disregard for the statutory responsibilities of the Gunstock Area Commission. It is a perfect example of the close-minded thinking that Mr. Howard has exposed in his years in the state House.

Let’s help this non-politician truly become one, out of office.

Ruth Larson

Alton

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