Republican gubernatorial candidate Kevin Smith sat down for a conversation with the KSC Republicans on Sunday, April 1. The event was an attempt by the KSC Republicans to increase student awareness of the New Hampshire gubernatorial contest, which has become a closer race since John Lynch, New Hampshire’s current governor, declared he will not seek another term.
“The race for governor is very important in New Hampshire with Governor Lynch retiring, and the students should get the chance to hear the candidates and ask them questions before they vote in the primary in September,” Meg Stone said, the chair of the KSC Republicans.
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Kevin Smith served as a legislator in the New Hampshire House of Representatives from 1996-1998; liaison to law enforcement and public safety until 2002 under Bob Smith—U.S. Senator from New Hampshire; Governor’s liaison to the Executive Branch Department Heads and the Executive Council under Craig Benson from 2003-2004; and most recently—from 2009-2011—Kevin Smith served as the Executive Director of Cornerstone Action, a non-partisan conservative advocacy organization. He is originally from Litchfield, N.H.
Smith is one of three Republican candidates who have officially declared their candidacy. The other two are Ovide Lamontagne, a Tea Party member who lost the Republican senate primary to Kelly Ayotte in 2010, and Steve Kenda, a 54-year-old graduate of M.I.T. and an entrepreneur. The Republican primary will take place in September and the general election will take place on November 6.
Smith took questions from a small group of approximately 10 members of the KSC Republicans for about an hour.
Smith detailed an overview of his political career as well as his plans for the direction he would like to see N.H. go in as governor.
“I’m running for governor because I want to see NH become the most economically competitive state in the country over the next decade,” Smith said. Smith believes he has the specific knowledge to boil down this broad and possibly fantastic vision into real concrete action and policy.
“I think it’s vitally important that the next governor have a long range vision and a specific plan for where we want to see the State be by the year 2020,” Smith said. “If you don’t know how to work with the system and work with the legislature and show that you can get outcomes it’s going to be hard to accomplish anything especially when you only have a two year term.”
Smith is a big advocate for policies that would have the goal of retaining young talent. This is one of his main action points that he expects will quickly make N.H. more economically competitive. According to Smith, more young professionals equals a better economy.
“Simply put, young folks are not staying in the state after they graduate college. We have all these great schools in our state, but people aren’t staying here simply because the jobs are not here right now,” he said.
Smith’s solution would involve a stronger emphasis on communication and mutual development between Colleges and Universities in N.H. and the private sector. “What I’d like to see us do a better job in is teaming up emerging sectors in the economy with the schooling in the universities, community colleges, and high schools,” Smith said.
Smith also expressed belief that it would be incredibly beneficial for N.H. to slash the corporate tax rate. Smith believes a lower tax rate will result in businesses flocking to New Hampshire, easily making up for the loss in tax profit that the current tax rate produces: more businesses paying less is better than less business paying more. Smith cited Rudy Giuliani’s corporate tax cutting policy as mayor of New York City as proof that lower corporate tax rates work.
When asked about the possibility of supporting a bill similar to House Bill 334, which was sent to interim study this February, Smith sided with the majority of the KSC population in opposition to such a bill.
“I don’t favor it and I don’t think it would be a good idea. I think most reasonable folks don’t think it would be a good idea either. If it ever came to my desk it is not something that I would sign,” he said.
Smith also explained, that he would not advocate further cuts to USNH funding. “I don’t think we need any further cuts in this area. I think we’ve had enough cuts for the time being,” he said. A highly publicized 48 percent cut in funding forced KSC to raise tuition $1,208 for in-state students and $648 for out-of-state student during the 2012-2013 school year.
The theme of the conversation with the KSC Republicans, and Smith’s candidacy in general, is no more rhetoric. A lofty goal that becomes a little less lofty when a voter takes into consideration Smith’s supposed attention to detail.
“One of the things you going to hear from all the people running for governor is ‘we need more jobs,’ and I say, well no kidding, everybody thinks we need more jobs. But what is the actual plan you’re going to put in place to bring more jobs here.”
Dylan Morrill can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.