HEAVILY DEMOCRATIC DISTRICT. Republican Jim Beard of Lempster is making his second attempt at state office this year, announcing Wednesday that he’s a candidate for the District 2 Executive Council seat held by Democrat Andru Volinsky.
Beard came close in 2016 to a primary win in a state Senate special election to succeed current state Banking Commissioner Jerry Little in District 8. But after a recount, he lost in that primary to the current state senator, Ruth Ward.
Executive Council District 2 is heavily Democratic. It was designed that way by Republicans in their latest redistricting plan to consolidate Democratic voters and limit the chances of a Democratic majority on the council.
But Beard and his campaign adviser, strategist Nick Pappas, say they expect a close battle with incumbent Volinsky, who chose last year to seek re-election rather than run for governor.
Beard is a Keene native who has been a pilot, aviation manager and strategic director for aircraft manufacturing companies. He said his campaign will focus on his manufacturing background and a “commonsense approach to more efficient and effective government.”
For the Concord Monitor – Wednesday, March 07, 2018
Democratic Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky of Concord, who has made a splash during his short time in office, now has a GOP challenger as he runs for re-election.
Republican Jim Beard of Lempster on Wednesday announced his campaign for the Executive Council in District 2.
The district stretches from the Vermont border all the way to the Seacoast region and encompasses 43 towns and six cities, including Concord, Keene, Rochester and Dover.
Beard is a Keene native who’s worked as a pilot, aviation manager and strategic director for various aircraft manufacturing companies.
In 2016, he narrowly lost to now-state Sen. Ruth Ward by just nine votes out of more than 5,000 cast in the GOP primary to fill the open Senate seat held by Republican Jerry Little, who stepped down to become state banking commissioner.
“As a former strategic sales executive, I’ve created and managed multi-million dollar contracts across the globe. No detail was too insignificant,” Beard said, touting his manufacturing background. “If elected, I will bring this experience and attention to detail in order to provide the sincere, transparent and effective state government that the people of District 2 deserve.”
Volinsky, a progressive Democrat who’s one of the state’s top labor lawyers, won election to the seat in 2016, defeating then-state Sen. Sam Cataldo 53 percent to 47 percent in a district that tends to favor Democratic candidates, thanks to the inclusion of Concord as well as a large number of college students in Durham and Keene.
Last summer Volinsky mulled a 2018 gubernatorial bid before announcing in September that he would run for re-election.
He made headlines recently and stirred controversy with a personal investigation of large cash sales at state liquor stores to out-of-state people. Volinsky alleges that the state liquor commission’s turning a “blind eye” to such sales, which he says could violate federal tax laws.
Beard’s 2016 bid for the state Senate was his first run for office. While losing to Ward by nine votes in the primary was frustrating, Beard told the Monitor he worked hard and drew satisfaction out of the experience even though he lost.
“I realize that she outspent me three to one,” Beard said. “And for nine votes, that’s an awful lot of money.”
Beard said he was elected chair of the Sullivan County GOP last year and as a result, has been very involved with the state Republican Party.
Beard said he would run his campaign for the five-member Executive Council similar to how he campaigned for state Senate. But he acknowledged that he’s got his work cut out for him in the eastern part of the district, where he’s not well known.
“There’s no question I have to focus on the east side of Concord,” Beard said.
By Steve Whitmore Sentinel Staff – Mar 8, 2018
A Republican has thrown his hat into the ring to represent Cheshire County residents on the state’s Executive Council.
On Wednesday, Jim Beard, 65, of Lempster, announced his intention to try to unseat first-term Councilor Andru Volinsky, D-Concord.
Beard is the only declared candidate thus far for District 2, although Volinsky said he’s planning a formal announcement of his own candidacy. District 2 covers six cities and 43 towns, including Acworth, Alstead, Charlestown, Chesterfield, Dublin, Gilsum, Hancock, Harrisville, Hinsdale, Langdon, Keene, Marlborough, Marlow, Nelson, Roxbury, Stoddard, Sullivan, Surry, Walpole, Westmoreland and Winchester.
“I’m running because the council will be stronger with my presence,” Beard said Wednesday afternoon. “My extensive business background will help focus the council on economic development.”
Beard said he wants to represent District 2 because more jobs are needed in the region.
“I believe we are overlooked out here in the hinterlands, and I want to change that focus,” Beard said. “I want to have more vocational and technical training offered in the area. I want our young people to get good jobs. Not everybody needs or benefits by going to college.”
Beard said he’s still working out the details of his platform on these and other issues, including on renewable energy production and farmland preservation.
“These are the broad strokes of my campaign,” he said.
As for his background, Beard said he’s been a licensed pilot since 1971, and served as a vice president for sales and marketing for worldwide airplane manufacturing firms such as Brazil-based Embraer Air until his retirement in 2012.
Volinsky had no comment Wednesday about Beard entering the race, but did confirm his intent to seek a second term.
“I will be making a formal announcement in the spring,” Volinsky said. “I love this job. If you’re intellectually curious, this is the best place to be.”
The Executive Council is the state’s executive body that oversees fiscal matters, including the state treasury, and approves the appointment of judges and commissioners for state departments. It also acts as a check on the governor’s power, among other responsibilities.
“It is a very broad palette,” Volinsky said. “It’s a lot of work, but very rewarding.”
Beard ran unsuccessfully for N.H. Senate District 8 in 2016, narrowly losing to Republican Ruth Ward of Stoddard in the primary.
Beard garnered 2,609 votes to Ward’s 2,618. Ward went on to defeat Democrat John Garvey of New London in the general election, and represents 24 communities, including Acworth, Antrim, Bennington, Langdon, Marlow and Stoddard.
Each of New Hampshire’s five executive councilors represents one-fifth of the state’s population, or about 263,000 residents. Councilors serve two-year terms, running concurrently with the governor. In 2015, each councilor received a salary of about $16,070, according to the state’s employee salary database. The councilor representing District 1 also received a $9,000 expense stipend while other councilors received $6,000 for expenses.
State primaries are scheduled Sept. 11, ahead of the Nov. 6 general election.
Steve Whitmore can be reached at 355-8567, or swhitmore @keenesentinel.com.