Meet the candidates for governor in New Hampshire: Tom Sherman
NHPR has reached out to voters to gather their questions for candidates on the ballot this November.
Election Day is just around the corner, and NHPR’s Rick Ganley is sitting down with the candidates running for governor to ask them those questions from listeners. Here’s a transcript from his interview with Democratic state Sen. Tom Sherman.
Rick Ganley: What would you want to accomplish in your first three months were you to be in office? What issue would you prioritize?
Tom Sherman: There are several. So the first issue, I think top of mind is making sure that we replace the Sununu abortion ban with the protections women have had for the last 50 years in New Hampshire, the protections of Roe v. Wade, and put that in statute, make sure there's an affirmative right to abortion in the state of New Hampshire, which currently does not exist.
Rick Ganley: Do you feel that there would be the political support for that?
Tom Sherman: Absolutely. And, you know, part of the difference between me and Chris Sununu is that the way I work, having been in the House and been in the Senate, is that I would sit down with leaders of both parties in both chambers and talk about how we move forward together to solve problems at the front end. Then when we have that legislation in place and those bills have been filed or amended, then we can work through the process together so that whatever comes out at the other end of the process is something that I can sign.
Rick Ganley: Now, many of our listeners have expressed concern over the state of democracy in the U.S. What specific action do you believe could be taken here in New Hampshire to strengthen the public's faith in democracy?
Tom Sherman: Well, the key to bridging gaps or building bridges, in my mind, is something my patients have taught me. That's that every relationship has to be built on trust and that you have to actively listen. And that's how I've found that thread of common ground that allows us to move forward together on an issue. Finding that common ground, I've been able to reach across the aisle and work with people on all sorts of issues and build the kind of trust, and listening and collaboration that's allowed me to lead on things like Medicaid expansion, lowering prescription drug costs, or even this past year, promoting manufacturing in the state of New Hampshire.
Rick Ganley: Do you worry at all about that concern, though, that has been expressed about the public's waning faith in the process itself?
Tom Sherman: The process has to be transparent. The public has to be a part of that. And one of the ways we can do that, that we actually learned from COVID, is make sure the public can participate in every level of government. If they can't be there in person, they can Zoom in. I think that was a great outcome, if there are any great outcomes of COVID, was the ability to have Zoom meetings so that even if you say as a chairman of a committee, ‘I'm not going to allow necessarily every speaker to speak that wants to Zooming in from all over the country. But I will allow people to be a part of every meeting so they can actually listen and witness what's said throughout the meeting.” That has to be determined by the Legislature. But I think we should embrace that additional ability to be a part of the process, and that's probably the best way to restore trust.
Rick Ganley: Energy prices continue to rise as the weather cools, as you know, and many Granite Staters are worried about the cost of heating their homes this winter. Is there a specific action that you would want to take, if elected, that could help lower energy costs for consumers here in the state?
Tom Sherman: The most immediate action we can take is to really promote, like we tried to do back in 2019 and we tried to do on Veto Day, is to promote weatherization and efficiency. That's the energy you don't actually use – something as simple as insulating your home, changing the kind of light bulbs that are in your home, those kind of things. We actually put forward $10 million to help low income families to do that. It was blocked in the Senate. But bringing that back, and we have many different levels of that, whether it's at the [Public Utilities Commission] through NHSaves, which the governor and people in the House actually blocked and the [Public Utilities Commission] torpedoed that program, but it was resuscitated, made weaker by the Legislature. But again, embracing weatherization and efficiency and then lifting the cap on hydro, wind, solar that's keeping people from being able to produce their own energy or businesses from being able to maximally produce their own energy so they can cut their costs.
Rick Ganley: And you feel that you could work with the Legislature, even if you did not have control of that Legislature, that you could get legislation passed?
Tom Sherman: Absolutely. We've done it before. And that ability to reach across the aisle, find that common ground, is something that has always been true. You know, I joke that I don't have one stethoscope for Republicans and another one for Democrats. Everybody gets treated the same. And that's true whether you're a constituent or whether you're a legislator.
Rick Ganley: As the U.S. increasingly becomes more polarized, New Hampshire is still a purple state with many independent voters. Now, we've heard a version of this particular question from many listeners: How would you work with members of all parties to do what is best for New Hampshire?
Tom Sherman: First thing is to listen to Granite Staters. That's how you figure out what is best for New Hampshire. We know that Granite Staters would like to see adult-use cannabis legalized in New Hampshire. We know that it's more than 70%. That's part of what I've always voted for it, but it really matters, the fine details really matter. We have to make sure we protect children. We learned a lot from cigarettes and vaping how to protect children from adult-use products. We've learned a lot about it from how we handle alcohol sales and liquor sales in the state of New Hampshire, and we've learned a lot from other states. Massachusetts and Illinois have great programs that are working really well, that is bringing home the taxes that are currently going to every other state around us. But it's also regulating the market that's here in New Hampshire and making sure that – We've seen marijuana laced with fentanyl, making sure that what's being sold in New Hampshire is regulated and as pure as possible so that people aren't getting hurt unnecessarily. That's listening. Listening to the people of New Hampshire on housing, on child care, and making sure that any program that we put in place is one that is actually solving the problem. That's a combination of, first, listening to the people of New Hampshire, listening to the towns and municipalities, not telling them what to do, but making sure we support them as they try to address those tough topics.