One of the candidates in the upcoming race for the New Hampshire second congressional district is Jennifer Horn, whose website describes as “a newspaper columnist and radio host.”
“I am running for Congress in the 2nd District of New Hampshire to return government back to the American people.” said Horn from the website. Horn, who has never served in elected office has also issued frequent public statements that are highly critical of the incumbent Congressman, Paul Hodes.
“Paul Hodes is a do-nothing Representative in a do-nothing Congress. The people of the 2nd district deserve better and they are demanding change.” she said in a press release. The second congressional district represents the western half of New Hampshire running from Pittsburgh in the north down to Littleton and then down through the length of the Connecticut River valley to Keene. The lengthy district also includes Nashua and the capitol city of Concord but ends at the gates to Manchester.
If change is the all important political theme for the Jennifer Horn campaign then Berlin, Gorham and Groveton and indeed all of northern New Hampshire may be one area of the second congressional district where residents want and need this change. In early February, Gorham based Fraser Papers announced a layoff of 167 fulltime employees and the idling of half its production capacity. For many of the employees of this historic mill this announcement wasn’t unexpected it was forthcoming. The papermills in Berlin and Groveton had already closed, throwing upwards of 600 people into the ravages of unemployment in an area of the state that historically offers few jobs. So the questions for candidate Jennifer Horn now are: is economic development and jobs for northern New Hampshire important? And what does she intend to do if she is elected? Her press releases seem to be silent on these questions.
Not long after the Fraser paper layoff announcement Congressman Paul Hodes held a conference call with the Gorham mill workers and local reporters to update them on his immediate efforts to assist in this situation.
“I will do everything I can to keep these jobs in Gorham.” said the Congressman. I think he has done just this. In addition to sponsoring legislation like the Northern Border Regional Development Act, which if passed would invest $40 million dollars a year into northern New Hampshire to protect industries like papermaking, Congressman Hodes has also worked with federal officials like the U.S. Energy Secretary for assistance in energy policy that will reduce overall operating costs and make the Gorham papermills more competitive in world markets. The efforts of Rep. Hodes I think are clearly working, Fraser Papers has recently announced that it had secured some futher contracts for its paper and that it was making progress on the energy issues affecting its business. As a result only 90 workers will be laid off.