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Laconia Mayor-Elect Andrew Hosmer Says He'll Focus on Economic Development and Affordable Housing

After a tight race, Laconia has elected Democrat Andrew Hosmer as the city's new mayor. Hosmer ran on a platform promoting economic development, affordable housing, and better schools.

So the turnout for this race was about 29 percent, which is more than double the turnout of two years ago. What about this election do you think got the people of Laconia particularly excited this time around?

Well, I think we had two candidates that care passionately about the city of Laconia. We had very different ideas of policy and how these the city should go forward and what we should do next. But I think we're well-known in the community. There was some partisan politics involved in this, though it's a nonpartisan position. I think you had two candidates who worked really hard with canvassing, direct mail, and radio ads. We seemed to drive an awful lot of interest and probably a lot of voters as well.

And what do you think you'd like to accomplish?

Well, as you said in the introduction, I think what's critically important is to continue the economic revitalization of Laconia. There are a number of exciting opportunities that have arisen over the past couple of years and development in downtown/Lakeport area and the Weirs area. I think focusing on that would be step number one. Second of all, I think it goes hand-in-hand with economic development. It's the improvement of our schools and there's an excitement in the air, in our schools, when you walk in the hallways and you meet with teachers and students. I think when the schools improve, the economy improves as well. And I think that Laconia's greatest asset is an exemplary school system.

What specifically will you do first as mayor?

When I was meeting with businesses throughout the city over the past few months, there seemed to be some sort of wall between city government and some of our local businesses. What I would like to do would be to have an economic development council within the city, which is made up of people from city government as well as business leaders in the community to make sure that we have a good communication that allows the business leaders to network better within city government to realize, too, that the entrepreneurs and the business leaders in the community are really putting an awful lot on the line and that the city has to understand that. And I think the businesses have to understand that many of our department heads and our city employees have obligations to fulfill and they have to develop a mutual appreciation so we can have the best relationship possible. That's the first thing I'd like to do.

During the campaign, you talked about keeping young people in Laconia after they finish their education. How would you go about doing that?

Well, again, I think it I think it has to do with the school system. The people that I came across when I was knocking on doors talked about they first sought a community to live in based on the quality of the education. So younger families with school aged children would, first of all, be drawn to high quality education in a community. Often the secondary interest would be the housing or where they're going to live within a community. So the idea of focusing on education and improving our schools -- that will drive the primary home market and allow us to develop more housing units. And when I think of housing units, I think of of really solid middle-class housing units.

Outside of your mayoral campaign, you work professionally as a lobbyist for a Concord firm. One of the clients, according to the secretary of state's website, is the ACLU, which has brought lawsuits against municipalities in New Hampshire in recent years. So how would you navigate the potential for a conflict between your client like the ACLU and your duties as mayor?

Well, we're very sensitive to any sort of potential conflict. The work that I've done with the ACLU has to do with voting rights. And that's been it. But I'm very sensitive to my obligation and my responsibility to the citizens of Laconia. If there's either a conflict or a perceived conflict, then I would step away from the work with that client entirely, because I think it's my responsibility to represent the citizens of Laconia first and foremost.

Peter Biello is the host of All Things Considered and Writers on a New England Stage at New Hampshire Public Radio. He has served as a producer/announcer/host of Weekend Edition Saturday at Vermont Public Radio and as a reporter/host of Morning Edition at WHQR in Wilmington, North Carolina.

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