Jeanne Dietsch, Bedford State Senate Candidate

Senator Jeanne Dietsch

Age (as of Election Day)

68

Position Sought

Senate District 9

Party Affiliation

Democrat

Family

Husband, Bill Kennedy; daughter, Eva; son-in-law, Justin and son, Ethan.

Does anyone in your family work in politics or government?

No

Education

Masters in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government; B.S., Western Michigan University

Occupation

Tech Entrepreneur, 20 years; Educational Publishing & Software, 8 years

Previous or Current Elected or Appointed Office

Current: NH Senator; Vice Chair, Senate Education Committee; member, Senate Ways & Means Committee, member, Economic Development Authority; Chair PFAS Commission; previous: member, School Board; chair, Zoning Board of Adjustment

Campaign website

www.jeannedietsch.org

Why are you seeking elective office?

I am running because I am concerned about rising generations. My parents grew up poor, on Depression-era farms, but worked hard, gained a good livelihood and sent their four children to public college for a small fee. Their efforts gave me the opportunity to build three successful tech companies, full of employees who were well-paid and able to afford homes and families. I want to make sure that our children and grandchildren have the same level of opportunity that previous generations have had.

The single most pressing issue facing our (board, district, etc.) is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.

COVID-19 AND ITS IMPACT ON OUR HEALTH, OUR ECONOMY AND OUR SCHOOLS is certainly the most important issue at this time. I am helping constituents deal with unemployment or keep their businesses afloat, not only facilitating subsidies, but also discussing ways firms can shift more sales online when retail is dwindling. In order to lower COVID infection rates and put this period behind us, I am assisting with the “Mask Up!” effort that encourages establishments to require masks indoors. Early on, I helped in efforts to supply masks to healthcare facilities. I am also striving to ensure that we will have adequate turn-around in COVID testing facilities in case of a surge, which has slowed turn-around in other states to a week or more.

On the educational front, I am trying to ensure that public and charter schools will have the funding they need to support the extra expense of hybrid learning and COVID safety, while the governor is sending nine times as much CARES money per pupil to private, religious and home school programs in his ongoing effort to defund public schools. This will become more urgent with state revenues down 15% or more, but the senate is working bipartisanly to get permission to apply the remaining $250 million in federal CARES funds toward state and local revenue deficits. I am also trying to help after-school and parent groups communicate to form the working parent support systems needed to get through this difficult fall re-opening safely.

What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?

LEGISLATIVE, EDUCATIONAL, BUSINESS & TECH EXPERIENCE: In addition to my years in the Senate and on the school board, I am an experienced small businessperson, who built a global intelligent robotics company. During my early career, I designed educational curricula. I believe in science and data-supported decision making.

SUPPORT FOR LOCAL CONTROL BY BEDFORD PARENTS: I support local control of high-school credits. Without local control, schools cannot assure Bedford parents of the quality of curricula. How will top colleges continue to value a Bedford diploma now that the governor has vetoed local control, and standards will almost certainly be set to a lower level by state appointees? I will continue to fight to regain local control of credits.

STRONG ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES: As a graduate in economics and public policy, I understand the need for research and innovation to fuel an economy strong enough for growth to exceed interest rates on the enormous debt we are amassing to survive this pandemic. And I know that we must address climate change now for the future of our children and grandchildren. I have the best environmental record in the NH Senate.

If you are a challenger, in what way has the current board or officeholder failed the community (or district or constituency)

I am answering this question because it seems only fair that those currently serving should have equal opportunity to describe examples of what we have accomplished, working nearly every day over the last two years to serve our constituents.

IMPROVING STUDENT MENTAL HEALTH: As current Senator for Bedford and 13 other towns, first, I have helped our schools by passing the multi-tiered systems of support to provide mental health guidance to all students. New Hampshire is in the desperate situation of having the second-highest increase in suicides in the nation, in addition to our problems with opioids. Even young Bedford students report that they feel stressed. This proven program is especially important at this time, with all the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

REDUCING DEVELOPMENT PRESSURE ON BEDFORD: I have worked to reduce the development pressure on Bedford that has nearly filled the high school to the point of overflowing. I am working to improve school quality and telecom connectivity in surrounding towns to reduce the overflow of families trying to move into Bedford school district.

REDUCING BEDFORD’S CARBON EMISSIONS AND ENERGY COSTS: I am supporting environmental and alternative energy bills. Despite the governor’s repeated vetoes, I will continue to fight to reduce fossil fuel reliance, for example, by increasing the net metering cap, which would permit Bedford to reduce carbon emissions and town expenses through municipal solar.

Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform

CIVIL JUSTICE: I am working to achieve civil justice in our state. I supported bills passed and signed that ban choke holds, require law enforcement officers to report misbehavior and mandate mental health testing for officer candidates. This fall, if re-elected I will be working with law enforcement, the ACLU, BLM and other stakeholders to review Use of Force regulations. And I am encouraging the governor to deny federal troops any right to engage in enforcement actions outside areas of federal jurisdiction.

CONNECTIVITY AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING: I have been a leader in expanding broadband to outlying areas. This is crucial to Bedford because it reduces development pressure on the town that may soon force expensive expansion of the high school. It is also crucial because it will enable NH businesses to attract workforce more easily. Right now, about 15% of NH housing is not viable for families because it lacks broadband. By expanding broadband to rural areas, we also expand our housing supply and affordability to accommodate the workers that innovative businesses need.

I chair the NH Commission on Environmental and Health Impacts of Perfluroinated Chemicals (PFOAs), which is investigating St. Gobain’s ongoing releases. Both Chris Bandazian and Emma Paradis of Bedford are members of the Commission, as well. To protect our water supply, the legislature and governor just lowered acceptable levels of PFOAs standard. Next, the commission will be working to define recommendations for local and/or state government, given the information we continue to gather.

What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?

As an incumbent senator, I have learned the ropes of moving legislation through the system. I have built relationships with the staff people, stakeholder groups, legislators and executive branch commissioners who help make things happen. In the past, I received awards for outstanding leadership from the Office of the US Undersecretary of Defense and for innovation leadership from Governor Lynch. I have helped over 100 constituents find the resources they need from state or local organizations during this pandemic.

The best advice ever shared with me was …

My parents grew up during the Depression, so I was taught to be extremely frugal. I did not succeed at business until a mentor told me, “You cannot build a business by cutting spending. You have to produce an innovative product that people are willing to pay for.” This helped me moderate my frugality and know when it was time to invest in employee retention, research and growth.

What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?

I am a person who seeks to work across the aisle and with all stakeholders to do what is best for our residents and our state. I appreciate hearing from all constituents. Please reach out to me at vote@jeannedietsch.org.

This article originally appeared on the Bedford Patch

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