Mark Hounsell announces second in series of lectures

Former State Senator Mark Hounsell announces the second installment of the "How to Influence Public Policy in this Age of Apathy" series featuring N.H. Secretary of State William M. Gardner, who will present a lecture titled "New Hampshire’s Unique Political Culture: Historical Reasons Why New Hampshire Has Been and Should Remain First in the Nation.". His talk is scheduled for 7-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28, at the Conway Public Library.

Hounsell, who served as a state senator from 1984-1988, organized the talk as the second part of his series on public apathy. The first session, on Jan. 24, drew 18 people for a wide-ranging discussion about political participation and how to influence policy.

During the first session, former state legislator Henry Mock of Jackson lamented the number of adults who don't understand the political process in New Hampshire. "I can't tell you how many people came up to me in the primary and said, 'Hey, how come you're running against Tom Buco?'" Mock recalled ruefully, referring to a Democratic candidate. Mock said he would explain, “I'm not running against Tom Buco, this is the primary, this is when the Republicans run against each other.'" But many citizens did not seem to understand how the presidential primary works. On Feb. 28, the public can learn more.

Gardner, first elected as secretary of state by the legislature in 1976, has accepted Hounsell's invitation to present a lecture titled, The secretary of state oversees elections, voter registration and recounts in the state. Gardner is considered an authority on New Hampshire's presidential primary, as well as boasting the status of the longest-serving state-level secretary of state in history. One of the staunchest defenders of New Hampshire's presidential primary, Gardner co-wrote a book, "Why New Hampshire" in 2003 with the late former Governor Hugh Gregg.

New Hampshire has held a presidential primary since 1916, but the political process that previews candidates within the respective parties is now under siege. In 2005, the primary commission of the Democratic National Committee began debating whether to remove New Hampshire and Iowa from the top of the primary calendar, sparking an outcry of opposition.

Hounsell told his audience on Jan. 24 that their participation is crucial to the health of the republic. "Right now the generation that I'm in, that most of us are in, could be the first generation that passes on an America that's not as good as the America that was handed to us," he warned. Building a better future depends on the involvement of ordinary citizens, he said. "There is no political power in America except the political power that's held by the people," he said.

Hounsell's series is free and open to the public.