- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 7, 2015

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) - Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern is set to announce that he’ll run for New Hampshire governor in 2016.

Van Ostern will announce his bid Thursday at a meeting of business and education leaders.

He is the first Democrat to announce a run. Republican Executive Councilor Chris Sununu is also bidding to replace Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, who this week announced her campaign for U.S. Senate.

“I’m running for governor to build an even stronger economy and a brighter future for the people of New Hampshire - one where everyone has the opportunity to succeed,” Van Ostern said in written remarks.

The 36-year-old from Concord has been on the Executive Council since 2012, representing the second district - an east-to-west belt from Keene to Rochester. The five-member body approves all gubernatorial appointments and large state contracts.

He works at Southern New Hampshire University where he helped launch its College for America. Before that, he was a business manager at Stonyfield yogurt and managed a consulting business that worked with small businesses and non-profits. He also has worked at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, where he led business trips to India and Brussels.

He said a key issue is improving the economy by keeping taxes low and supporting commuter rail, among other things.

Van Ostern voted in favor of $639,000 in state funding for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, an issue that could play a role in the campaign. The council, including Sununu, voted to strip the funding after videos raised questions about Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue donation program.

He also says it’s important to rein in student debt and provide access to quality health care, including addiction treatment services.

“I moved here for a job in my twenties, found a strong community, worked at world-class employers, fell in love with a New Hampshire girl, and we’re now raising two New Hampshire boys whose future means everything to us,” Van Ostern said. “I love this state and I’ll work hard to keep it moving forward.”

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