WHERE THEY STAND
By CAROL ROBIDOUX
Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY – Two-term State Rep. Frank Emiro, R-Londonderry, is ready to lead. He pulls no punches when he tells you why he should be the next governor of New Hampshire – he is the most qualified of the four Republican gubernatorial candidates because he's the only candidate with experience working in the state legislature, says Emiro.
“I've been there, defending what the people say they want me to fight for, and knowing how the full process and method works,” said Emiro. “That is key to being an effective governor – knowing what you're up against, and knowing how to work with people from both sides of the aisle to get things done.”
Emiro, 65, describes himself as a true moderate Republican who is just as tired as anyone of the empty promises politicians make each election cycle. It's no wonder that frustration has given way nationally to the rise of the Tea Party Movement, he says. But it is a movement Emiro says has been hijacked by extremists.
“They started out the right way – just average citizens tired of government and politics,” says Emiro. “It's because the American people, across the board, are sick of the Republicans and Democrats saying what they're going to do, then not delivering the goods.”
But he hasn't lost faith in Republican ideals, or his party's ability to remain relevant with people – it's not so much about political philosophies as it is about the difference between being a politician and being a leader, says Emiro.
“Take an issue, like pro-life. A politician will tell two people on either side of that issue whatever he thinks they want to hear. An elected official doing his or her job for the people, on the other hand, will tell both constituents, face to face, where they stand on the issue. Then it's all up to the people in this country to vote for a candidate, based on what they stand for,” Emiro says.
“Citizens of this country have for years backed off from holding elected officials in a representative government accountable for their voting record. It's absolutely overdue,” Emiro says.
Emiro's own voting record with the legislature reflects his personal commitment to veterans issues. He serves on the House State/Federal Relations Veterans Affairs committee and, as a Vietnam-era veteran, was Director for Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 49 in Westchester, NY.
He would bring jobs and revenue to the state through casino gaming, and was sponsor of HB 593 in 2009. The bill proposed construction of gaming resorts in Hudson, Berlin and Lincoln, but failed to gain traction, although he points out that it was something those three communities wanted.
Emiro says the immediate benefit of job creation and non-tax related revenues would also go a long way toward easing the problem of transportation funding, which has continually delayed the expansion and improvement of the I-93 corridor.
In fact, his vision for the future of New Hampshire includes rail service connecting Boston with Concord, a solution to the dangerous and antiquated I-93 commuter congestion.
“I'm not talking about Amtrak. I'm talking about not for amtrak coming in and doing that. Subsidized rail to get it started – the way Abe Lincoln built rails. The federal government got them going and then they could be privatized,” Emiro said.
Emiro retired in 2005 on retirement disability from NH DOT, having served six years on the Board of Directors for State Employees Association, SEIU Local 1984. In his past lives he has owned a pizza business, a pager business and, before that, was a long-haul truck driver for a department store chain.
His campaign is low budget. He doesn't have a staff to speak of, and feels his lack of a campaign war chest somehow diminishes his credibility as a viable candidate in the eyes of the competition.
“I've put myself in the front lines. I didn't go out and get big money. It's a real grassroots campaign. I don't want to take corporate money because I don't want to be beholding to any corporate entity – but I do get a lot of quiet pats on the backs from those who know me, who know my record and know why I'm doing this,” Emiro says.
“After four years watching the Democrats overspending, watching the economy getting worse, watching them bring in all these intrusive taxes, and no one was stepping up to run against Lynch on the Republican side, I felt like someone had to do something,” said Emiro. “That's why I'm here.”