Howard’s philosophy of government: he’s against it

This was originally published in the Laconia Daily Sun on October 1, 2020

This spring, Covid was spreading its death grip all over, and it was a time of horror for the world. During some of the worst periods of the coronavirus pandemic, however, we were nevertheless treated to magical photos of nature left wild, or at least wilder. We saw animals roaming free in areas previously crowded with humans, marine mammals swimming in previously polluted and overfished waters, we saw the skies of L.A. without the thick veil of smog.

There were also very concrete improvements in air quality, in San Francisco (40 percent less air pollution than in 2019), LA, New York, and Seattle, with similar reductions in pollution.

There could be no more convincing proof of climate change than these photos and air measurements. Even a climate denier should be able to see the evidence before our eyes, showing climate change linked to human activity.

The bad news is that those changes were temporary, and as soon as human activity increases to previous levels (more vehicles, more planes, and more movement), those benefits begin to disappear. What we learned from this terrible experiment is that we humans are indeed in control of not only our own destiny, but that of our children and grandchildren. The earth is ours to save for them or to squander.

The voting record of my opponent, Rep. Raymond Howard, Jr., shows that we could not be much further apart on environmental issues. In Concord, he has voted consistently against measures designed to tackle climate change, to reduce carbon emissions, to protect water and air quality, and to increase solar power. His nay votes sum up his philosophy of government: he’s against it. I believe wise leaders need to address the dangerous effects of climate change, which are already reaching crisis levels. The younger generation is ready to tackle this problem; why aren’t we?

Mr. Howard has not only voted repeatedly against environmental measures, but he has even voted against a bill seeking to establish a climate action plan. That’s right, he voted nay on HB-1664, to study the issue of climate change, and plan for the future. He put his head in the sand and refused to look at the evidence. I would obviously have voted yes.

At the county level, Ray Howard has consistently voted to deny or reduce appropriations to the Belknap County Conservation District, an outside agency serving as our county environmental steward, implementing conservation measures and assisting land managers in maintaining natural resources in the county. The BCCD provides about $16 of benefits (through its outreach, its grants, its use of volunteers) for every $1 it receives from the county. Instead of encouraging locally based programs like BCCD, Mr. Howard once again says nay.

If elected, I will work towards saving and improving the environment in New Hampshire. For the health of all of us, for the beauty and economic benefit of our natural resources, and for all the generations to come.

U.S. could be described as a laughing stock on the Covid front

Originally published in the Laconia Daily Sun on September 13, 2020

The rabid letters regarding my candidacy for the N.H. House suggest that a red flag (or more appropriately, a blue flag) was waved in front of a raging bull, the bull consisting of a group of local naysayers. Most of the assertions in their letters merit no response, and the notion that President Trump has been the savior of people of color is not only bizarre, but downright laughable. 

The rhetoric coming from the far right these days is primarily a feeble attempt to distract the public from the tragic, incompetent response to the coronavirus. Even President Trump, in tweeting that Michelle Obama got her facts wrong in her DNC speech, noted that the actual deaths were 20,000 higher than she had indicated, and that was just in the space of a few days between the taping and the airing of her comments. The U.S. has embarrassed itself terribly on the world stage, with only 4 percent of the world’s population, but over 25 percent of Covid cases. There was a time when the U.S. led the scientific world, and the field of medicine; not so now. With close to 200,00 deaths to date, the U.S. could be described as a laughing stock if it were funny, rather than tragic.

So how does the GOP and its followers in this area try to make everyone forget about the disaster that has been Trump’s handling of Covid? They start talking about socialism, in terms attempting to scare Americans about the future. As Harry Truman said in 1952, “Socialism is a scare word they have hurled at every advance the people have made in the last 20 years… socialism is their name for almost anything that helps all the people”. Some things never change.

When persons graduating from high school or college in New Hampshire think about their next move, or when young couples and families think about whether to move to New Hampshire, are they thinking about socialism? Not likely. They are thinking first of all about jobs, jobs that pay more than the $7.25 an hour minimum wage. They are thinking about good public schools fully supported by more equitable means of financing than local property taxes. They are thinking about health care, and hoping that Obamacare gets strengthened or replaced by Medicare for all, not eliminated. They want women’s rights, and LGBTQ rights, and reproductive rights to be protected and enhanced. They want us to address the problems of climate change, and work to protect the environment. And they want our country to live up to the promise of liberty and justice for all.

We should not let the fearmongers among us distract us from sensible plans for the future, or forget the disastrous situation this administration has dragged us into during the pandemic. Let’s instead focus on what will make New Hampshire a place where young people want to remain, and young families want to move. Join me in looking forward rather than into the abyss.

Cartoon in Daily Sun Not Offensive

Originally published in the Laconia Daily Sun on September 07, 2020

The furious reaction to the August 27 cartoon, showing an African-American boy fearing the police, shows how very out of touch some people are in this area of New Hampshire. One might think, or at least hope, that our community members would make some attempt to empathize with, or at least understand, what it is like to be a person of color in the U.S. in this day and age. We see instance after instance of shootings and killings of unarmed citizens who pay for their skin color with their lives. We see instance after instance of the police being called against persons of color who are jogging, or shopping, or driving their vehicles, or otherwise simply living everyday lives, but who are viewed as somehow suspicious because of their race.

There was nothing offensive about the August 27 cartoon, unless reminding all of us in this very white community that some people are treated differently is offensive. There was nothing in the cartoon that in any way attacked or demeaned police officers, as the cartoon wasn’t about the police. It was about what it is like to grow up as a black male. And the cartoon in no way disagrees with what we all know, that the vast majority of police officers are extraordinary public servants.

And for those very sensitive persons who chose to take offense at the cartoon, maybe I can lend you some of my toughness pills, of which I have (and need) a large supply. By the way, many of The Laconia Daily Sun cartoons have “offended” me, although I have a thick enough skin that I use that term in quotation marks. All of the cartoons of Gary Varvel are anti-Biden and/or pro-Trump. Just look at the cartoons of July 28 and 31, of August 13 and 15 and 18. Do the area liberals and progressives come crying to the paper threatening to never read it again, and only support the competition (as soon as they find it)? Of course not.

The Laconia Daily Sun should try to continue to do its job and survive as one of the rare local newspapers left, and the bullies trying to threaten its existence should move on and do something more constructive.

We are all neighbors; we are stronger when we work together

Originally published in the Laconia Daily Sun on 07/21/20

To The Daily Sun,

I am running for state representative as the Democratic candidate from Alton, Barnstead, and Gilmanton (Belknap District 8). These are difficult times for many in our state and our nation. News on the national front is chaotic and disheartening, and many among us are suffering from repercussions of COVID-19, with the end not yet in sight. We also face enormous challenges from the toxic political climate promoted by the Trump administration, setting one group against another and encouraging the most divisive elements of our society. We seem to have lost sight of the wise counsel of Patrick Henry in the early days of our republic: “United we stand; divided we fall.”

Nevertheless, I see cause for optimism: the way in which our area communities have come together and rallied around local businesses and food banks, with people offering to help others with their shopping and errands, and others standing up for justice for all, including marginalized groups among us. The true spirit of community is alive and well in the Lakes Region.

Some of you may have seen people with signs on some Saturdays at the Alton circle, participating in a “Visibility for Love Not Hate.” I participate in these events, usually holding a sign that reads “Love Not Hate.” It has been truly uplifting to see passing motorists wave or honk or give a thumbs up, and I believe that a lot of people are tired of the divisiveness and want to see us come together.

Nevertheless, a couple of weeks ago a truck stopped and the driver began shouting, demanding to know where we came from (all local) and who was paying us (no one). He referred to himself as a red-blooded patriotic American, and I responded that we were also. He then attacked Black Lives Matter, which I also support. Afterwards, I wrote to him, confident that if he thought about our message a little more, he might even consider joining us in the future at these non-partisan events aimed at spreading a message of kindness and inclusion. I hope to hear from him and anyone else interested in having a civil discussion about this or any other issue.

My campaign is one of hope and unity, and I welcome input from all voters, of any or no party. My vision for our community is for all of us working together to make it a place where young people want to stay, and where young families want to settle. This will provide our community with the workforce necessary to support the vibrant economy we need. Let’s use our natural resources wisely, protecting them for future generations, and support our public schools, as the backbone of our democracy. We are all neighbors, and we are stronger when we work together.

I want to hear from you and earn your support. To learn more about my candidacy, visit my website RuthLarson4NHRep.com and my Facebook page @RuthLarsonNH.

Ruth Larson

Alton

Ruth on the Issues: Reproductive Rights

In 1973, in the landmark decision Roe v. Wade, the US Supreme Court ruled that there was a right to privacy under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment, and that this right extended to a woman seeking an abortion. That right was balanced against the state’s interest in regulating abortion, with the interest in regulation viewed as increasing throughout the pregnancy. In that case an in subsequent cases, a woman generally had a right to terminate a pregnancy until viability of the fetus. It should be noted that the only Democratic appointee on the US Supreme Court at the time of Roe v. Wade voted against it.

It is my view that a woman’s choice to use birth control, to have a child, to terminate a pregnancy before viability or to carry a fetus to term are decisions that she should be able to make without interference from the state.  In New Hampshire, where the state motto is “Live Free or Die”, a woman’s reproductive freedom should be protected.

In my view, every attempt to reach common ground should be made between those opposing abortion rights and those wanting to protect them.  In particular, the emphasis should be placed on sex education for both males and females, and access to birth control.  No one likes abortion, and we should all seek ways to make abortion unnecessary.

I would also like to see the term “pro-life” be used to support and nurture children after their birth, with emphasis on health, education, clean air and water, and safety from violence.  In my view, people opposed to abortion and those who want to keep it legal should join forces to promote truly pro-life measures, making our world a better place with good opportunities for all children.

Ruth on the Issues: 2nd Amendment and Guns

The US Supreme Court in the Heller decision ruled that individuals have a Second Amendment right to possess a firearm in the home for self-defense,  and struck down the District of Columbia ban on handgun possession.  The Court made it clear that the right has limits, and certain restrictions are constitutional.  For example, prohibitions against felons and the mentally ill possessing guns, laws imposing conditions and qualification on sales, laws barring guns in sensitive places like schools and government buildings, and prohibitions against “dangerous and unusual weapons”.  The Court even stated it would “consider … prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons.” As of 2016, only 9% of cases (state and federal) with Second Amendment challenges were successful.

Among the safety measures I support are: universal background checks and a ban on military-style automatic weapons and bump stocks. I am opposed to allowing the carrying of a concealed weapon without a permit, which is now legal in NH as a result of a recently passed law. Most police chiefs were opposed to eliminating the requirement for a permit to carry concealed.  The term “constitutional carry” is a misnomer, as the US Supreme Court has never rules that there is a Second Amendment right to carry concealed.  Every indication is that the Court would uphold a permit requirement, and I would vote for such a requirement.  I would also vote to prohibit people other than law enforcement from bringing guns into courthouses (which is currently the law) and into the state legislature.

Fred Sallah of Alton endorses Ruth Larson

Click here to view the article in the Laconia Daily Sun

Larson has demonstrated that Howard in far from mainstream

Oct 30, 2018 Updated Oct 31, 2018

To The Daily Sun,

Ruth Larson has carefully and in a very civil manner addressed Ray Howard’s voting record, ranging from his strong opposition to use of taxpayer money for drug treatment to his opposition to a joint resolution opposing racism and hate crimes. On the many issues addressed, Mr. Howard voted “no” and Ruth would have joined a large bipartisan majority voting “yes.” In short, Ruth has illustrated that Mr. Howard is far from the mainstream of both parties in his representation of those of us in his district.

That which is really telling is that neither Mr. Howard nor any of the four letter-writers, who have sided with him, have explained or even attempted to explain his long string of “no” votes nor have they offered any criticism of an actual policy position taken by Ruth Larson. Instead, they resort to smear tactics and name-calling. Ms. Larson is the “Hanoi Jane of the Lakes Region” or she is bringing “slimy New Jersey-brand politics to our area” or she is trying to make Mr. Howard “look like an uncaring imbecile.” Two of the letter-writers refer to her as having been “an ACLU lawyer.” She was a lawyer in New Jersey before she retired and moved to New Hampshire in 2010 but she was never a lawyer for the ACLU in any matter. One of the best of the falsehoods is that her campaign is being financed by George Soros.

Part of the attack on Ruth’s campaign is an attempt to portray her as an outsider who has recently swooped in with the intent of attacking our values. Ms. Larson’s connections to this area go way back. Her grandfather bought an old farmhouse and land on what was then Places Pond (now Sunset Lake) in the early 1930s. Her family still owns the house and much of the original land. Ruth came to Alton regularly as a child and teenager and has owned the lot where she and her husband have lived since the mid-1980s. She is neither an outsider nor one prone to dirty politics. Disagreeing with an opponent’s actual voting record is not dirty politics. The best that Mr. Howard’s supporters have said about Mr. Howard is that he “represents conservative values.”

I have known Ruth Larson for 15 years. I know of no one who is more sincere, honest, and hard-working. Her dedication to task is remarkable, and she is always in good humor. Politics sometimes fosters mean-spirited and deceitful attacks on a person’s character. Ruth would never respond in kind. Do your research and join me in voting for Ruth Larson as our representative in the 8th District (Alton, Barnstead, and Gilmanton).

Fred Sallah

Alton Bay

Steve Miller of Alton endorses Ruth Larson

Click here to view article in the Laconia Daily Sun

Ray Howard looks out only for impact on his property tax bill

October 29, 2018

To The Daily Sun,

Ray Howard is a myopic one-trick pony whose time has come to leave the state House of Representatives and give Ruth Larsen a chance to provide leadership and vision to her district.

Don’t get me wrong, I know Ray personally, I like Ray personally, and have welcomed him in my home. Yet in terms of representing me as a citizen of Alton and New Hampshire he leaves me wanting. He is myopic for not spending an additional penny no matter how much other people less fortunate than himself benefits. He either chooses not to, or lacks the ability to seriously analyze, investigate, and interpret a complicated economic or financial expenditure. His sole focus is not to have one penny added to his own property tax bill. On itself, that is a noble endeavor, but what ultimately suffers is investment in our future, education progress, infrastructure improvements, and plain old fresh ideas.Ray has had plenty of time to share what his future vision of Alton and his district should be. I challenge anyone including Mr. Howard to tell me what that is. He has voted against civil rights issues. He has voted against saving Gunstock. He has voted against improving infrastructure. He has voted against paying our teachers a living wage. He has voted against Alton Central School and Prospect High School. He has consistently voted against funding Alton’s school budgets. He has voted against funding our opioid crises and the list just goes on. It is time to elect a representative that will vote for us not against us, and not just for himself. If you choose to “not” vote for Ruth Larsen you are choosing zero economic growth, zero vision in our future, and zero progress. As they say, “foolish is voting the same way every time and expecting something different and better.”

Steve Miller

Alton