UNTIL RECENTLY, the Executive Council has been a lesser-known institution in New Hampshire, but more and more Granite Staters are recognizing the important role it plays in protecting our fundamental rights and ensuring that the state’s money is wisely spent in a way that benefits all.
I often describe it this way: one vote on the Executive Council is the difference between Planned Parenthood being funded and women across our state being denied essential health care services. One vote is the difference between having a commissioner of education who supports public education and one who seeks to undermine it every day. One vote is the difference between a New Hampshire Supreme Court that will uphold our fundamental rights and one that will undermine the right to choose, the right to vote, and the right to marry the one you love.
Everything that we value is on the line in this election: reproductive rights, voting rights, LGBTQ+ rights, health care, education, climate, and economic justice are all on the ballot. And all of that was true even before we confronted the most monumental public health crisis of our lifetime.
When I say everything is on the line, I am not talking about far-off hypotheticals. With a U.S. Supreme Court poised to eviscerate or outright overturn Roe v. Wade, reproductive rights will be squarely before our New Hampshire state courts in the very near future. The right to vote here in New Hampshire is under constant assault, where our attorney general spends hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to consistently and aggressively pursue laws designed to make it harder to vote.
Currently pending legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act place it in serious jeopardy, which would leave tens of thousands of Granite Staters without health insurance during a pandemic. And our public education system, already facing overwhelming challenges, is continually undermined by Commissioner of Education Frank Edelblut, who seeks to divert public funds away from our public schools.
COVID-19 has only exacerbated the challenges we face and it has laid bare the reality that our current system is failing working families, that women and people of color are disproportionately impacted, that our current health care system is unsustainable and leaves the most vulnerable behind, and that small businesses — the back bone of our economy — need our support. There will be tough decisions to make about how money will be spent and how currently budgeted funds will be reallocated to address these issues.
All of this makes it even more important to have an Executive Council that will fulfill its duty to provide vigorous oversight of how our funds are spent, to ensure key state agency leaders are well qualified to support the mission of the agency, and to ensure that judges will protect our fundamental rights.
We have seen some disturbing acts of overreach by Governor Chris Sununu during this pandemic, from usurping the power of the Legislature, to the distribution of federal funds to political allies, to rejection of calls for transparency. The Executive Council serves as a check on this conduct, especially during a crisis.
To be clear, our founders created the Executive Council for this very moment. With so much at stake, we need to elect the most qualified candidates with the skills, experience and commitment to meet the challenges ahead.
As your executive councilor, I would bring 40 years of health care experience to the Executive Council: 20 years in hospital laboratories and administration, followed by 20 years as a health care attorney. I read, write and negotiate contracts for a living. As a longtime Democratic activist and leader, I served as chair of my town committee and now as chair of the N.H. Democratic Party’s Platform Committee. I know our values, have been fighting for them for years and will commit my full-time attention to fighting for them on the Executive Council.
Up and down the ballot, this fall presents us the most important election of our lifetime. We need a councilor who will put the power of the Executive Council to work for the people. I will be that councilor.
Cinde Warmington is a health care attorney at Shaheen & Gordon, P.A. and a Democratic candidate for Executive Council in District 2. She lives in Concord.
Read Cinde’s op-ed in the New Hampshire Union Leader here.