The Sidebar: County Commissioner, Former Lawmaker Vie To Replace Burton In Executive Council Race

Mar 6, 2014

Republican Joe Kenney and Democrat Mike Cryans will face off in a special election March 11 to replace longtime District 1 Executive Councilor Ray Burton, who died in November.

A retired colonel in the United States Marine Corps, Kenney spent 14 years as a state legislator, in both the House and the Senate. He was the Republican nominee for governor in 2008 and lost to Democrat John Lynch. Kenney won a three-way Republican primary in January.

Cryans, who did not have a primary opponent, has been a Grafton County commissioner since 1997. A former teacher and banker, he’s been endorsed by three siblings of Burton, who held the North Country seat on the Executive Council for nearly four decades. Cryans is also touting endorsements from “two dozen current registered Republicans and former Republican leaders.” 

Kenney has struggled to keep up with Cryans in fundraising. According to campaign finance reports, the Republican has raised $78,331 in contributions, more than half of which - $43,000 – has come from his own pocket. He’s also reported a $5,000 in-kind contribution from a campaign staffer.

Cryans has raised more than $115,000, most of it in donations of less than $100, including $26,264 in the last two weeks.

The largest of the five Executive Council districts, District 1 covers an area from just north of Concord to the Canadian border. It includes Coos and Grafton counties, the cities of Claremont and Laconia, and the Lakes Region and the White Mountains.

The five members of the Executive Council work with the governor to approve state contracts worth more than $10,000. They also have a role in appointing judges and commissioners and in managing the state’s 10-year transportation plan. Councilors are paid $15,169 a year. 

Candidates At A Glance

Mike Cryans

Age: 62

Party: Democrat

Education: B.S., Springfield College, 1973

Experience: Grafton County Commissioner, 1997-present; Executive Director of Headrest, a non-profit addiction and crisis support service.

                                                                                Residence: Hanover

Joe Kenney

Age: 53

Party: Republican

Education: B.A., University of New Hampshire, 1984

Experience: State Senator, 2002-2008; State Representative, 1984-2002; Republican nominee for Governor, 2008; Wakefield Board of Selectman, 1997-1999; Chair, Wakefield Republican Party, 1997-1999; Lt. Col, U.S. Marine Corps, 1980-present. 

Residence: Union