Governor Sununu? Senator Hassan? Here, They're Just Chris and Maggie

Nov 10, 2016

Leroy Legg standing outside the Newfields Country Store. "I call it Norman Rockwell-ville," he says of the town. "It’s just wonderful."
Credit Todd Bookman/NHPR

After this week’s elections, Newfields, New Hampshire is entitled to a little bit of bragging. Two of the town’s 1,700 or so residents now hold some of the highest titles in the state.

Both Senator-Elect Maggie Hassan and Governor-Elect Chris Sununu call the Seacoast community home.


And while the town doesn’t have much in terms of commerce, what it does have seems to work just fine. That includes the little 150-year old Country Store on Main Street.

 

“Our speciality here is, we make our homemade bread,” says Linda Parsons, who has worked at the store for ten years. “Our sandwiches...we make homemade rolls, baked goods. And of course, the coffee.”

 

Parsons knows all the regulars, who happen to include Maggie Hassan and Chris Sununu.

“We treat them with respect as Governor and Executive Councilor, soon to be U.S. Senator and Governor, yet they are real people, too,” she says.

 

Parsons jokes that Newfields is the center of the political universe right now. And that’s not just because their chili is pretty good.

 

Leroy Legg and his wife Charlotte own the store. He says it’s no surprise that the Hassans and Sununus would choose to live here. Newfields is a quintessential New England town, with lots of old homes dotting Main Street. Nobody is too flashy, everybody mostly friendly.  

The newsstand inside Newfields Country Store.
Credit Todd Bookman/NHPR

“I call it, Norman Rockwell-ville. It’s just wonderful. It’s a community,” says Legg. “A very close community and everybody participates.”

Hassan and her family joined the community just last year after living in neighboring Exeter. The Sununus have been here for about a decade. They’ll both now be commuting to Washington and Concord, respectively.

In fact, most people who live here also work elsewhere, though the town is home to a couple of companies including Hutchinson Sealing Systems, a manufacturer, and Coed Sportswear, which in the 1990s was famous for their raunchy line of t-shirts.

If you’re thinking this is a sleepy little town, though, the clerk and tax collector for Newfields, Sue McKinnon, wants you to know otherwise.

“What we have here in Newfields is a Memorial Day celebration with a parade,” she says. “We have a Summer Solstice, where we have activities and bands, we recently just had a fall celebration. We have our holiday celebration. We have lots of little events like that that bring the community together.”

And that community came together to back its local candidates on Tuesday. John Hayden is a lifelong resident and the current town moderator. Despite coming from different political parties, he says both Hassan and Sununu received the most local votes in their respective races.

The election results for Newfields are posted in Town Hall.
Credit Todd Bookman/NHPR

“I don’t want to say it’s unique, but I think it is a good thing to see, getting outside their strong political views, and looking at the person,” says Hayden.

And just about everyone in town here does seem to have met them at some point.

“Maggie actually spoke at the 5th grade celebration at the end of the year last year, and Chris and his wife Valerie have been an integral part of school,” says Alison Bzdafka, a long-time teacher at the Elementary School. “So, it’s pretty awesome.”

She doesn’t even need to use last names. The next Governor and Senator are well enough known around Newfields that "Maggie" and "Chris" will do just fine.