Cryans, Kenney race for NH executive council seat

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CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Democrat Michael Cryans and Republican Joe Kenney will face off next week in a special election for the North Country’s executive council seat left vacant when longtime councilor Ray Burton died in November.

The two will vie for the job that Burton held for nearly four decades and both say they learned from the late Republican that the most important thing a councilor can do is advocate for the people in the sprawling district covering the northern two-thirds of the state. About 264,000 people live in the 108-town District 1 that stretches just north of Concord to the Canadian border and includes the White Mountains and the Lakes Region.

Cryans, 63, has been a teacher, banker and businessman and has been a Grafton County commissioner since 1997.

“The most important issue and the one I hear most often is, ‘Will you be there for us when you make it to Concord?’” he said.

Kenney, 53, has spent more than 30 years in the Marines and reserves and has served in both chambers of the state legislature. He was a state representative from 1994 to 2002 and from 2002 to 2008 was in the senate, where he chaired that chamber’s Transportation Committee. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2008.

Kenney said his 14 years as a state legislator prepared him for working with the people he represents - and for navigating the statehouse halls to get things done.

“I’ve helped hundreds and hundreds of people solve their day-to-day problems with state government,” he said.

Cryans, of Hanover, counters that Kenney’s been out of office long enough that he doesn’t know all the players anymore and that Cryans‘ span as a county commissioner positions him well to take the district’s needs to state lawmakers.

“Working side by side with Ray, being a county commissioner for all these years, knowing all the people down in Concord for all these years, I think has given me wonderful experience,” he said.

Both candidates agree the two key issues facing the North Country are repairing roads and bridges and attracting jobs: Do the first, they say, and the second will follow. The Executive Council oversees a 10-year master plan for transportation projects in the state.

Kenney, who said he would push for more transportation funding to be sent north, said he recently traveled to West Stewartstown where he stood on a bridge he said looked ready to fall down.

“It’s quite apparent that that part of the state is being overlooked,” he said.

Cryans said as he’s toured the district this winter, people have constantly complained about the roads. He also would push for more transportation funding for the North Country.

“If we don’t start solving this problem with thousands or tens of thousands of dollars now, at some point it’s going to cost us a lot more,” he said.

On the economy, Cryans said the incubators that have worked well to create jobs in Claremont could be a model for other localities in the district.

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