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The Dartmouth
June 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

College hosts public forum for New Hampshire gubernatorial candidates

Democratic candidates Joyce Craig, Jonathan Kiper and Cinde Warmington spoke at the event.

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On May 22, the Dartmouth Democrats, New Hampshire College Democrats, New Hampshire Young Democrats and Rockefeller Center for Public Policy co-hosted Democratic N.H. gubernatorial candidates Joyce Craig, Jonathan Kiper and Cinde Warmington for a public forum. The three each spoke about their policy positions on subjects including climate change, voting rights and education. 

Approximately 100 people attended the event in Filene Auditorium, while an additional 50 watched a livestream on YouTube, according to Rockefeller Center assistant director for public programs and special events Dvora Greenberg Koelling. 

Craig — who served as the mayor of Manchester, N.H. from 2018 to 2024 — said she noticed a lack of support for local governments from Concord during her tenure.

“That’s why I’m running for governor,” Craig said. “We have tremendous opportunities in our state, but we need a governor who understands the challenges and has worked to put solutions forward to these challenges and can help our other local communities do the same.” 

Craig said her duties as mayor included allocating the annual city budget, nominating city commissioners and managing “every single city department.”

If elected governor, Craig said she will reform The Doorway — a program that offers state resources for individuals with an opioid use disorder or other substance use disorders. According to Craig, the program is currently a “revolving door” because it does not pay for those with substance use disorders to live in recovery housing for a long enough period of time. 

“Evidence shows that someone needs to be in a sober home for five to six months before they’re in a place where they can actually move forward,” Craig said. 

Craig said the government could spend “the same amount of money” to help substance users successfully recover if the time frame was extended. 

Kiper, who has owned a restaurant in Newmarket, N.H. since 2015, said he is running for governor to address the statewide housing crisis. According to Kiper, his younger employees and customers are leaving the state due to rising costs. 

“I was on the [Newmarket zoning board of adjustment] and the town council and some other boards, and I kept bringing this up to people,” Kiper said. “There was this assumption that us people … under the age of 40 … that didn’t have housing just need to move up to Rochester or Farmington.”

According to Kiper, “many issues” are impacted by the housing crisis, including the state’s aging population. He explained that there is not enough housing for the professionals who care for the aging population. 

Kiper also said he supports codifying the right to abortion in the state constitution, adding that Democrats need to win the governorship and majorities in both legislative chambers to protect reproductive freedom in the long term. 

“That’s why it’s really important to me that we work on getting the unaffiliated voters to show up and vote Democrat,” Kiper said. “That is really the core to winning. There are simply not enough Democrats in this state for us to win.”

Kiper added that he will use the “bully pulpit” to take a “much more active role in the legislative process” if elected. 

Warmington — who has represented the second district on the New Hampshire Executive Council, which includes Hanover, since 2021 — said her personal journey has influenced her political work. Warmington said her family faced financial challenges and filed for bankruptcy when she was a teenager. She added that she began working at age 15 to support her family and eventually took on two jobs to pay for her college education. 

“Knowing what it’s like to worry about having a roof over your head is what guides me on the Executive Council,” Warmington said. “I see everything that’s happening in state government, and this is what drives me to be governor. … I will make every single decision … through the lens of the working family that needs to make ends meet.”

Warmington emphasized that she recognizes climate change as an “existential threat” that is “created as a result of human activity.” She added that as an Executive Council member, she deals with flooding issues that cause farmers to suffer financial losses. 

Warmington said she is the “only candidate” who has proposed a “clean energy economy plan” to adopt renewable energy sources while adding jobs to the economy. 

“It starts with [achieving] net zero emissions by 2040,” Warmington said. “Then we move on to leading in the electrification of our transportation industry.”

Following the forum, the candidates participated in a meet-and-greet with community members. 

Attendee Fiona Hood ’26 said the candidates “hit the big issues” that she wanted to hear about during the forum. 

“All of them want to move the state in a direction where we’re solving some of New Hampshire’s biggest issues right now,” Hood said. “Housing is a big issue, and so is the environment, and I like that they talked about those.” 

Lyme resident Jim Nourse said while he was already familiar with Warmington’s policy stances, he attended the forum to hear from Craig and Kiper. 

“[Warmington] — as the Executive Council person for four years — does understand the state and the people that run it, and I think that is … impressive,” Nourse said. “By the same token, [Craig is] the mayor of the biggest city we have [and is] perhaps a better known entity down in the southern part of the state, which will be important to carry the state.”

Nourse said he was “heartened” to hear the “excellent answers” from the candidates. 

“We got some good candidates,” Nourse said. “There [are] a couple of [other candidates] that weren’t here tonight, so I’ll have to go find them. But I was encouraged.”

According to Koelling, the Rockefeller Center will host a forum with Republican gubernatorial candidates after the filing deadline. According to the New Hampshire Secretary of State website, the filing period is June 5 to June 14.