Concord City Council Race: Shenanigans, a Lobbyist, Lies and Cash

Special Concord City Council election on March 5th. Photo from Concord City's website

By Kimberly Morin

Next Tuesday there will be a special election held for the Concord City Council. Very localized races such as this often have low voter turnout and are basically “sleepers” but this race has a little bit of everything and none of it is good for the residents of Concord.

The special election was caused by two members stepping down – Steve Shurtleff, the Democrat’s new Speaker of the House, and Dan St. Hilaire, a judge recently appointed by Gov. Chris Sununu, were both city councilors in Concord. They resigned their positions last year. Shurtleff served citywide while St. Hilaire represented Ward 10, the northeast corner of the community in what is considered by locals to be the “most conservative ward” of the city if there ever could be one of those in liberal Concord.

The city council in Concord, according to sources, used to be pretty middle of the road, with a mix of liberal and conservative Democrats and a token Republican or two. Lately though, it has swung far to the left, taxing and spending like drunken sailors, borrowing against the future and cutting checks for connected developers as they dream of making Concord a destination city, “New Hampshire’s Main Street.”

These races are typically non-partisan and not very exciting but this race is a tad different.

One of the candidates is Byron Champlin. He currently already holds a seat on the council. You read that correctly, Champlin currently sits on the Concord City Council yet decided to run for the at-large seat. It’s unclear why he would do such a thing, other than as part of the shenanigans that seem to be happening on the city council. If he were to win his at-large seat, another special election will have to take place to fill the seat he already holds, costing Concord residents thousands of dollars more.

While there are four candidates running only one has the ability to deny Champlin the seat, people in Concord say that is David Parker, an educator (he owns Parker Academy) and native of the city. He has helped thousands of students and families reach their goals and dreams during more than 30 years building and running the school. Apparently, Parker is a problem solver, thinking long and hard about issues facing the capital city.

Even if Champlin loses his at-large seat campaign, he’ll still have a seat on the Concord City Council. Maybe it is time for some new blood minus the shenanigans from the current city councilor.

Another candidate running for city councilor is Zandra Rice-Hawkins. Rice-Hawkins is a paid lobbyist from Granite State Progress, an organization funded by a larger left-wing organization out of Colorado, Progress NOW. Rice-Hawkins is paid to push policies that her out-of-state organization wants to see implemented in New Hampshire. It doesn’t matter what Granite Staters actually want, it matters what her funders want.

Rice-Hawkins has a very long and well-documented history of lying to the legislature and elsewhere around the state. She’s paid to do it. Rice-Hawkins is also well-known for her bigotry and hateful behavior towards anyone who doesn’t agree with her extreme left-wing ideology. Not exactly the type of person who will make the Concord City Council better.

Senator Dan Feltes, who has also become extreme in the past couple of years (Feltes used to be far more reasonable and actually approachable by constituents, that has changed), is backing Rice-Hawkins (and Champlin). He calls her a “progressive leader.” Rice-Hawkins isn’t a leader. She hasn’t spent countless hours volunteering her time for causes she champions, she’s PAID to push (and lie about) whatever policies her funders tell her to support:

Apparently, Rice-Hawkins is also spending thousands of dollars in an attempt to outright buy the city councilor seat. Why? This is a volunteer position. The people who typically run for these positions are tied to their community and want to help the community. They are not usually paid lobbyists who are pushing an out-of-state agenda. It’s extremely odd that a candidate would spend thousands of dollars on a city councilor seat.

Joe Shoemaker is the other candidate for the Ward 10 Councilor seat. Apparently he’s been involved in youth sports and is currently a Division Director for the New Hampshire Office of Professional Licensure and Certification. What Shoemaker is not is a paid lobbyist for an out-of-state organization, nor does it appear he is trying to buy the councilor’s seat.

Concord residents need to take a good look at this election. While very localized elections such as this one may normally just be “sleepers,” this one seems to have a lot at stake for those like Champlin, who is clearly involved in shenanigans by running for an at-large seat while already a sitting member OF the council and for Rice-Hawkins, a paid lobbyist who is known for lying, who is spending an awful lot of money for the Ward 10 seat.

This may be a sleeper for every day residents but it seems some people have bigger ideas for the city council and they probably aren’t good ones. Residents should take note and pay attention to what’s going on right in front of them and make sure they get out to the election on Tuesday, or suffer the consequences in the future.