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 Sherry Frost, Ariel Oxaal and Tom Southworth, originally published in October, are included in this group. All three profiles were written by Debbie Bodell.
Sherry Frost, Ward 4
Sherry has been in the State House since 2014. An educator and instructor, she was born and raised in New England and has lived in Dover since 1990. Sherry does not describe herself as a politician; rather she considers herself an activist who has been elected.
When asked what words people might use to describe her, Sherry had to qualify her answer. She hopes people think of her as brave, compassionate, and driven; though she thinks some people might say she’s a hothead with a potty mouth. She admits that all of these words describe her. But Sherry’s passion for social justice, including getting in front of racial concerns in the state; implementing ethical public education; and true health care for all Granite Staters, guides her work and her votes. She proudly voted to eliminate the death penalty in New Hampshire.
Although the State House will have challenges legislating in 2021 due to COVID, Sherry is looking forward to continuing her work. Her key areas of focus will include: enacting Body Autonomy legislation; creating a New Hampshire minimum wage; and addressing unfair property tax issues.
Sherry met her husband when he came to complain one Sunday morning when they lived next door to each other, and she was playing her Mozart too loud. Sherry always keeps Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream in the house and enjoys British crime dramas for entertainment.
The most important message Sherry has is for the Progressive voters. She asks that Progressives do not give up. Every vote matters!
Ariel Oxaal, Ward 3
Empathy is one of the words to describe Ariel. She knows the issues facing working people in the state. The areas she wants to focus on when she reaches the State House include Better Rights for Working People; State Mandated Paid Sick Time; continuing to address the Opioid Crisis; and helping to keep New Hampshire a place that is fair for workers.
Another word to describe Ariel is curiosity. Ariel quotes Confucius, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” She wants to always be learning. With so many governmental decisions requiring multiple areas of expertise, this attribute is critical for all our elected officials.
Other priorities for Ariel in the State House include: readmitting the Net Metering legislation; continuing to address PFAS in our environment; helping local school boards address challenges related to the pandemic; creating a Minimum Wage for the state; ending Child Marriage; and better and more consistent communication to engage constituents. According to Ariel, these priorities target what it takes to make New Hampshire a place where young families want to live. Ariel would like to serve on the Health and Human Services committee when she gets to Concord. Her desire to serve on this committee reflects her commitment to the well-being of New Hampshire’s citizenry.
Ariel likes to hike and cook, and has started gardening this year. Her favorite ice cream flavors are Moose Trax; and anything with chocolate, coffee, and Kahlua.
Tom Southworth, Wards 3 and 4
Tom has spent 43 years as a reading teacher, school counselor, and administrator. He was recruited to be a Selectman for Ward 4 when the city needed someone to fill the position, and, after testifying in Concord against “some bad education” bills, he was asked if he wanted to be on the other side of the table and run for state representative. Tom said “yes” and won his seat in 2014. He has been on the Ways and Means Committee since his first election.
One word that describes Tom is dedicated. Tom shows this when he says, “Once I have a cause, it's mine.” This dedication is evident in Tom’s continued support of Dover schools as a member of the High School Visioning Committee. He continues to fight for funding for city employees.
A phrase that describes Tom is down to earth. Tom finds his commonsense approach to challenges serves him well.
During his time in the State House, Tom has voted to reinstate NH's contribution to the state employee retirement system. The change would save Dover over $1,000,000 per year. He also voted to block a school voucher program and supported a bill to ban conversion therapy.
Tom says the most critical issue facing the state in the next session is addressing the upcoming budget cuts due to the pandemic. He is clear that we need to find new revenue sources. Areas he would like to continue to explore include closing loopholes, adding a high-income capital gains tax, increasing tolls and instituting a gas tax.
According to Tom, other important issues to be addressed in 2021 include cleaning up education funds issues, fixing our state roads and bridges, and ensuring bad legislation is blocked. Tom also noted the importance of electing a new governor and reelecting the Dover Democratic state representatives.
Tom’s favorite ice cream flavor is Barnacle Billy’s French Vanilla Chocolate Chip. In his spare time, Tom likes hiking, reading, and water sports.