Republican Frank Edelblut is a candidate for governor because he believes he can make a difference.
But before he announced, he talked it over at home with his wife of 30 years and prayed about the decision with her and their kids.
“We think the time is right for someone with my background,” he said.
“I start with the economy,” the businessman and state lawmaker recently told NH Journal. “Jobs are really important to people in New Hampshire.” But the unemployment rate is a misleading number.
“With 2.6 percent unemployment rate, we must be doing great,” he said, until one looks at job growth and productivity numbers. Per job growth, New Hampshire has limped into 32nd place. And for productivity, at Number 49, the Granite State is one better than dead last in the nation.
He compared the current situation to an engine “firing on two cylinders, kind of sluggish and not really doing anything.” According to Edelblut, the anemic performance is due to the failure to include the young and the “older folk,” age 50 to 55, in the recovery.
“We can’t move forward unless we take care of some of these structural problems,” he said. “We’ve left behind young people, who are leaving in record numbers, and the older folks. In the last downturn,” he added, the latter “basically had the legs cut out from under them, and they have not landed well. We really have not done a good job economically. We’re stuck.”
Moreover, “another issue is the family,” he said. He sees New Hampshire families “under a lot of pressure” and suspects the opioid epidemic is a symptom of a deeper problem.
“We have to be careful we don’t just treat the symptom,” he added, or people will not recover.
For one thing, New Hampshire has a significant number of broken families and mixed families, and the family court system has not kept pace with the “new paradigm” to be able to “help kids,” he said. The court does “a great job for 90 percent” of families going through a divorce,” he said, but that other “10 percent is getting beat up.”
In his view, “a terrible divorce” may be one of the reasons people turn to opioids for help.
“The other aspect which deals with family,” he said, relates to the way the addict’s problems start at home, and then the neighborhood before spreading out to the cities and towns and the entire state.
“It’s a community problem,” he explained. “We all have to have skin in the game. The state does not have fairy dust to sprinkle on top of this problem hoping it’s going to go away.”
Another issue for the new governor is “the education system,’ he said. New Hampshire’s student population is shrinking, and the state must shift resources to deal with the demographic changes.
For example, the Town of Croydon, N.H., faced a problem keeping a middle school open for only five children in the town. The school board attempted to send the students to other school districts, willing to accept tuition students.
But when one youngster was not thriving, the board arranged for that child to attend a Montessori school in Croydon. Her tuition even saved taxpayers money and seemed like a good solution, until the state Department of Education interfered.
“Our DOE sued the town and said you can’t do that,” he said.
Looking deeper into the state education system, he added, it would seem the priorities are backwards.
The only “fixed component is 180 days. But the bigger question — “And did you learn something?” — seems to come as an afterthought.
For example, some children should be able to finish in three years with a community college certificate in advanced manufacturing and walk into a job paying $40,000 to $45,000.
Asked how he can win the election, when the Democrats have won nine of the last 10 governor’s races, Edelblut said he will run on his set of beliefs.
And about the top of the ticket?
“So, what I’ve said about the nominees, I come back to the economy in New Hampshire and in the U.S. after 8 years of doing terribly – $8 trillion in debt and flatline” growth.
There’s only one candidate who has actually created jobs, he said.
“To my knowledge, Hillary Clinton has never created a job, and Bernie Sanders has probably never had a real a job in his life.”
Shawn McCoy contributed to this report.