Prior to the general election, we asked candidates to contribute to our Blog, through interviews conducted by members of Dover Dems or in their own words. The positions of Representatives Casey Conley, Tina Fargo and Peter Schmidt, originally published in October, are included in this group
Casey Conley, Ward 1
by Casey Conley
I am running for re-election to continue working toward solutions for working families across Dover and New Hampshire. I have served for two terms in the N.H. House, and for each have been a member of the Transportation Committee.
My main priorities for the 2021-22 term will be working to minimize the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on residents, businesses and schools. Our state has weathered the pandemic fairly well, but the recovery has been uneven and we are approaching the winter season, which is a struggle for many families, even in the best of times.
I have filed three bills ahead of the 2021 term, all of which I filed in 2020 as well. All three passed the House but did not advance through the State Senate during the COVID-shortened session. Two bills are focused on affordable housing. The first would require advance notice for significant residential rent increases. The other would create new incentives for developments with affordable housing units. My third bill would request that the governor issue a proclamation each year recognizing the first ever all-women labor strike, which happened in Dover in 1828.
My legislative efforts in the past included criminal justice reform, cannabis legalization, gun safety and the elimination of New Hampshire’s outdated motor vehicle inspection system. My bill to study ways to expand access to childcare while increasing affordability for families passed in 2019. The Child Care Study Committee is still working toward addressing what is a very difficult issue with no easy solutions.
I am a proud Democrat, but also a pragmatic one. Very little gets done in government without some measure of bipartisan support. I have fostered relationships with members of both parties to work toward real solutions. Several of my bills had Republican co-sponsors, and nearly all passed with at least some Republican votes.
I am proud of my work to advance disability rights in Concord. I spent the last two years as the Democratic appointee to the N.H. Commission on Deafness and Hearing Loss, which advocates for legislation and enhanced services for our state’s deaf community. I also was part of the bipartisan Disability Caucus.
I am a former Foster’s Daily Democrat reporter, and I now work as associate editor for a maritime magazine based in Portland, Maine. I recently joined Dover’s zoning board. I live near downtown Dover with my wife Lauren and two young sons and enjoy travel, hiking, running and gardening in my limited spare time.
Kristina Fargo, Ward 2
by Kristine Baber
Kristina “Tina” Fargo is excited about running for re-election to the New Hampshire House, where she represents Dover Ward 2. She describes her first term as one of the best experiences in her life. Concerned about the political climate in 2018 and not wanting to be a “couch complainer,” Tina decided to run for office and won.
Even though the position requires lots of hard work, three to five days a week in Concord, and a steep learning curve, she says that there was no question about running again. “There is so much work to do. I couldn’t imagine not going back. I couldn’t imagine walking away.”
Tina’s business degree from the University of Buffalo, her work in banking, and a 24-year career with Liberty Mutual prepared her to serve on the House’s Commerce & Consumer Affairs Committee. Her ability to troubleshoot and problem-solve, as well as her negotiation skills, serve her well in the House. She is passionate about ensuring that quality healthcare and insurance coverage, including drug coverage, are equally available for all. Tina also cares deeply about gun control, urging common-sense regulations and keeping firearms off school property. Addressing voter suppression and gerrymandering are among her other priorities.
Although COVID-19 and the current governor’s unprecedented number of vetoes have obstructed many of her committee’s bills, she is proud of those that were passed into law. These include a bill that protects provisions of the Affordable Care Act at the state level, another bill that caps out-of-pocket costs for insulin, requires insurers to cover the cost of EpiPens, and allows the wholesale importation of drugs to reduce costs.
Integrity, respect for others, and taking responsibility are among the values that guide Tina’s work as a State Rep. She explains that growing up, “integrity was a lesson we learned every day,” because it meant everything to her father, “a blue-collar guy who was a Democrat all of his life.”
Tina and her husband Tom, who works for the Department of Environmental Services in Concord and is a former State Rep, are long-time residents of Dover, having moved here in 1988. They have two adult children; a daughter who is finishing her Bachelor’s in Business Management and a son who is an Automation Engineer. Spending time with family, sitting by their firepit listening to music, reading, and doing jigsaw puzzles are among her leisure activities. She has also volunteered at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital and is on the Riverside Rest Home Committee as part of the Community Delegation.
Tina wants voters to know that she is committed to working hard to represent Dover citizens, always taking the community’s interests into account. She is hopeful about the future. Tina believes “we need to unify and heal” and that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris could help “repair the country and restore integrity, empathy, and trust.”
Peter Schmidt, Wards 1 & 2
by Claire Brown
Re-election to the New Hampshire House would enable Rep. Peter Schmidt to focus on issues that demonstrate the scope of his priorities, from local to global levels, with equal passion.
As a member of the Executive Departments and Administration Committee, Peter works on regulatory legislation that affects the everyday lives of citizens. He notes that although many of the committee’s issues may "fly under the radar, they keep the machinery running” to ensure New Hampshire remains “a wonderful place to live.”
Peter’s other major priority affects Granite Staters as citizens of the world. Climate change, he believes, “is the greatest peril of our time.” In addition to rising sea levels affecting America’s coasts, including southeast New Hampshire, violent weather events are presently impacting our lives and will likely increase impact, in the near and distant future, in unimaginable ways. If re-elected, Peter will continue to support bills addressing climate change concerns “It’s real, it’s urgent; we can’t close our eyes or wish it away. We need a Democratic majority for real progress.”
That majority is increasingly important because the Governor is undermining the electoral process by vetoing a large, unprecedented number of bills – often bipartisan – that affect all aspects of life, Peter believes. “Governor Sununu is frustrating the electoral results by cancelling the accomplishments the Democratic majority legislature was sent to Concord to accomplish."
If voters of Dover Wards 1 and 2, Strafford District 19 re-elect Peter, it will be for a tenth term. After moving to New Hampshire 30 years ago, he wound up teaching German at the University of New Hampshire for about a decade before serving on the Dover City Council for three years.
As a Representative, Peter’s commitment to constituents is straightforward: participate in committee work as well as attend sessions to both initiate and support measures that represent Democratic values. “It’s the job voters have sent me to Concord to do,” he states.
Although legislative work keeps Peter busy, he enjoys choral singing and ballroom dancing as hobbies. Because of COVID-19, he isn’t presently singing with a group, but it’s certain he’ll have lots of opportunities to use his voice and footwork in Concord.