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Wednesday
Oct242012

Bob Burns - Of Course I have a Litmus Test

Feel-good political buzz words such as “compromise” really have no place in an Executive Council race, which is why it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I’ve said the constitution and the law are straightforward and I’d strictly uphold them upon election to the District 4 Executive Council seat.

My opponent for the seat shows his lack of knowledge of the position he’s running for—or perhaps his lack of faith in voters’ understanding—by trying to play around with the word and somehow insinuate that he’d be the great compromiser on the Executive Council. I think he should explain to voters exactly how he intends to do that.

Compromise is something that the legislative branch does when interested parties get together and try to work out their differences on a bill before they pass it into law. Executive Councilors are nothing like state representatives and they’re not like senators, either. In fact, they don’t even really deal much with the Legislature or legislation for that matter—that’s the governor’s job.

And further, the council is not some round table of five noble men sitting around making deals or trades with each other all day. If this describes my opponent’s vision for the Executive Council, then electing him would initiate a new era of some pretty dangerous corruption in our state’s executive branch. To be clear: our Executive Council doesn’t come close to that description.

On the contrary, the Executive Council’s work is clear-cut. Is it a good contract or a bad contract? Is it a good lease or a bad lease? Most of an executive councilor’s work is reading over state contracts and leases and then answering those questions. The result is an up or down vote and it’s often bi-partisan.

When it comes to judicial appointments, I’ve been quite clear: I will only support the governor’s judicial, department head or agency appointments if I know the candidate understands and respects the U.S. Constitution, the N.H. Constitution and state and federal law. For anyone under consideration for these positions, his or her record in this regard will be apparent, and I will vote accordingly.

Is there room for compromise in my opponent’s Executive Council in this area? If so, we’ll get more executive officials who believe there’s “precedent” to divert gas tax or toll revenue into general expenses, even though the N.H. Constitution in Part 2, Article 6-a says that such a diversion is specifically prohibited. The executive officials I confirm will never make this argument. They’d never even consider a contract that used gas tax or toll revenue unconstitutionally.

In the case of department head or agency appointments, I’d also want to verify that they’re qualified to do their job. Again, it won’t take much effort to determine whether a person is just a friend of the governor or someone truly qualified to do the appointed job, but that effort is the job of an executive councilor. I will be committed to making sure we only approve a nominee from the governor if it’s clear the person will perform to the best of his or her ability within the confines of the law and constitution.

What would my opponent do? Would he advise the governor to pick his friends to do the work of the people, even if they completely lacked the skillset required for the job? What will our roads and bridges look like under the leadership of one of my opponent’s friends? Will they be safe to drive on?

It’s not that someone we know shouldn’t get a government job, because sometimes the people we know to be the best, are simply the best in their field. But when confirming such appointments, the people need an executive councilor who will not compromise on the competency of the appointees. The people need to know that their government is doing the best job they can at the lowest cost. Voters should know that they deserve no less than this, without compromise.

Bob Burns of Bedford, who is currently serving as Hillsborough County Treasurer, is running for the District 4 Executive Council seat.

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