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Entries in Executive Council (2)

Sunday
Nov032013

Mark Hounsell: Ray Burton — Statesman

With his announcement that he will not seek reelection in 2014 Ray Burton's career as an elected official is coming to an end. Daniel Webster once wrote, "What a man does for others, not what they do for him, gives him immortality."

I saw Ray not too long ago. We had a nice visit as we reminisced on times gone by and talked about things to come. I enjoyed our brief talk and left his presence feeling the same way I have always felt after spending time with him. I was encouraged, upbeat, more enlightened and more hopeful for a better tomorrow than I was before our visit.
What is it about Raymond S. Burton that inspires people in such a way? The answer could be found by looking at the body of work that he has produced over 45 years of public service.

Ray Burton was born and raised, and still lives in Bath. He graduated from Woodsville High School in 1958 and next went on to Plymouth State College, where he earned a bachelor of education in 1962. He taught in public schools in both Andover and Warren. It was not long before he turned his attention to politics. It quickly became evident that his passion and his talents were well suited for government service. In 1977, Ray was first elected to the executive council where he has served with fidelity and honor for 34 of the last 36 years. During that time the people of District 1 have been the beneficiaries of his hard work and dedication. The fact of the matter is that the entire population of the Granite State has reaped the rewards championed and promoted by Councilor Burton.
Ray also serves the people as a Grafton County Commissioner. A post he has held for the past 22 years.

One thing that cannot be emphasized enough is that Ray Burton, as a native of New Hampshire who has lived his entire life in the northern region of this state, has a deep and true understanding of the lifestyle and character of Northern New Hampshire residents. During his time as an executive councilor, officials who head the government agencies in Concord, governors from Meldrim Thomson to Maggie Hassan, legislators, judges and all others were and are made aware that there exists a New Hampshire north of Concord. Ray often encourages all of them to "start looking out their northern windows."

One initiative that Ray began was his student intern program. Over the past 36 years scores of young women and young men have reaped the unique advantages of being close to the action of government by gaining practical experience that only Ray Burton could provide.

I remember in 1986 I was serving District 2 in the state Senate and Ray Burton, of course, was the executive councilor that included my senate district. We both represented Plymouth which is home to Plymouth State University (in 1986 it was Plymouth State College). It was in the spring of the year and after a few days of heavy rain the Pemigewassett River flooded its banks resulting in the displacement of many inhabitants who had homes along the river.

The need for food and shelter was real and it was immediate. Ray in his gentlemanly, yet insistent manner cleared the way so that the State's Civil Defense Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, State Police and the administration of Plymouth State College could muster their resources in order to provide the help and relief needed by the people affected by the flood.

I recall at that time listening to Ray advise me that if you put good and capable professional people in the positions of leading agencies and departments, provide them with the necessary resources and then stay out their way, good results are best assured.
Ray has never been an ideologue. He acts and votes in a manner that he believes will be for the best for the people. As a lifelong Republican Ray Burton has a way of avoiding, or ignoring, the partisan skirmishes that from time to time plague the political landscape. His votes are not partisan, his votes are well thought out, inclusive, wise, benign and constructive. Ray has never allowed politics to get in the way of helping people. His fingerprints are on the much of the positive progress we the people enjoy today.

It has been said the difference between a politician and a statesman is that a politician is concerned about the next election, while a statesman is concerned for the next generation. Ray Burton is clearly a statesman. The good that he has done on behalf of countless others assures that he will be remembered for a long, long time.

Mark Hounsell served in the NH State Senate from 1985 to 1988.

 

 

 

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.