Jon Lavoie wants to be known as just “a regular guy,” who happens to be running for governor.
Lavoie, 32, is running because he’s fed up with party politics and feels elected officials have stopped listening to the people. They only listen to the party leaders, so they can secure their support for the next campaign, he complained.
Two of the last three New Hampshire governors used the office as a “stepping stone for bigger and better,” he said.
This would be his first bid for political office, and he won’t be looking to trade up if elected, he said. He’s New Hampshire born and bred, and he isn’t leaving home. His politics put him in the conservative Republican camp, although he does “lean left on some topics” and said Independent probably best describes his politics.
He filed as a Republican for practical reasons.
“You need to come up with 3,500 signatures” to run as an Independent, he said. “Or you just pick Republican or Democrat and pay them $100.”
In the September Republican primary, he will be facing Chris Sununu, Jeanie Forrester, Ted Gatsas, and Frank Edelblut. All four are better known than he, Lavoie allowed, but in a way, Lavoie is the dream candidate for “a lot of people” — himself included — who’d like to see the ‘regular person with a little bit of common sense” in the corner office, he said.
(Democrats Steve Marchand, Colin Van Ostern, Mark Connolly and Derek Dextraze also want the job, which drew a throng of candidates when the incumbent, Gov. Maggie Hassan, announced she will challenge U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte.)
Lavoie grew up in Mason, a small town west of Brookline, Hollis and Nashua. That’s where he developed a lifelong appetite for politics.
“I was 16 and going to town meetings,” he laughed and admits thinking the bickering and “the arguments were funny.” He remembers “there was a school issue,” which eventually resulted in a decision to disband the Mascenic Regional High School, which he attended. The funding formula changed and “shifted a lot of the costs” to Mason taxpayers. Ultimately, Mason opted out of the regional school. But Lavoie wasn’t just a one-issue town meeting gadfly.
“I was interested in the whole thing,” he said.
Now he’s starting at the top by running for governor. He ruled out a run for a lower office for practical reasons.
“Representatives work harder than a governor and don’t get paid anything,” he said. Lavoie doesn’t feel he could hold down a job, volunteer in state government and raise a young family. He has two sons, ages 1 and 3.
“Governor would be my job,” he said. Currently, he’s the sales and marketing director at Guild Optical Associates in Amherst.
His own father owned a hot tub business, and growing up “in that atmosphere,” he developed a knack for sales.
But he’s also waited tables, driven an oil delivery truck and served as a volunteer firefighter.
“I never really put a label on what I want to do when I grew up,” he said. “I never had a goal, except I like to take on new challenges.”
Lavoie went to Keene State College but dropped out after a year. He scored high grades but was bored and didn’t want to spend the money on tuition, he said.
Asked about his priorities, he allowed he would address the “hot topic,” the heroin and opiate problem, although he believes “it’s being blown into a bigger situation” than warranted.
He has posted his plan on his Facebook page and said basically, he favors legalizing marijuana and using the tax revenues to provide treatment for drug addicts.
“I’m not a smoker,” he said, “but a lot of my friends do” use marijuana. In his opinion, that’s on a par with taking an alcoholic drink, but marijuana has a stigma.
Turning to the rest of his agenda, he’s concerned about unnecessary “laws on top of laws,” such as the ban on hands-free driving and the concealed carry law. New Hampshire already has one law on the books about distracted driving and another one banning texting while driving. He agrees with that measure, but thinks the latest law — no talking on a phone — is silly. Similarly, the concealed carry law, which requires legal gun owners to obtain an additional special license from a police chief to carry a concealed weapon, “doesn’t make any sense.” The state House and Senate both have voted to repeal the law, but Hassan “keeps vetoing it.”
Asked how he will win the election, Lavoie plans to start by fighting his way onto the debate stage at Saint Anselm College.
“I’m just a regular guy; I don’t have a team; I don’t have a million dollars,” he said. “I’m not a rich guy, and I’m not a politician.” But if he can gain an audience, he “just might turn heads.”
He doesn’t have lawn signs yet but has started a Facebook campaign urging supporters to make their own.
“It’s a little different,” he said, but it will save money.
Lavoie supported Rand Paul in the New Hampshire Primary. He will not be “vocal” about supporting Trump but will vote for him. He would “rather take a chance on Trump” than vote for Clinton.
As for Trump’s influence on the rest of the ticket, he is “either going to be the best thing that’s ever happened for New Hampshire or a disaster,” he said. He anticipates the billionaire will bring out the voters, including people who loved him on television, even if they’ve never voted in an election.
“You’ll definitely see people coming out of the woodwork,” he said and predicted record turnouts.