Hassan Picks "North Country Priorities" Team

Dec 7, 2012

Governor-elect Maggie Hassan says she wants the North Country Priorities task force to gather information so the needs of that area
Credit Paul Filippov for NHPR

Saying the North Country communities “possess unique strengths and face unique challenges” Governor-elect Maggie Hassan has appointed a North Country Priorities team.

“I am really just trying to get input as we move forward with the transition and our administration and make sure I am hearing the concerns of people and businesses in the North Country” she said in an interview.

Eight of the nine members are former or current legislators. The ninth is an official at the First Colebrook Bank.

But the number of members could increase, Hassan said, because as various transition teams are announced people are calling and offering to serve.

In a statement announcing the team, Hassan said she wanted “to make sure the priorities of the North Country are fully heard in Concord so we can protect our state’s natural beauty and grow the North Country economy by supporting our tourism industry and innovative businesses.”

The group will likely hear about the controversial Northern Pass hydro-electric project.

Two other of the governor-elect’s transitions teams include two members who have been supportive of the project in the past.

Sean O’Kane, a former Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED) Commissioner, was  appointed to the Business Outreach team.

Joe Casey was appointed to the Energy and Environment Team. Casey represents the New Hampshire Building and Construction Trades Council.

Both have done ads promoting the controversial Northern Pass hydro-electric project.

Hassan says she has people on her transition teams that both oppose and agree with her positions on various subjects.

“We are trying to make sure we have as much input going forward as we can from as many different perspectives as we can get it,” she said. “I think we’ll have a full balance of perspectives.”

She says her position on Northern Pass is unchanged. She opposes the project as originally proposed and it must have the support of local communities.

Here are the current members of the North Country Priorities team:

* Raymond Burton, Executive Councilor for District 1.

* State Senator Jeff Woodburn of Dalton.

* Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier.

* Former State Senator John Gallus of Berlin.

* State Representative Tom Buco of Conway.

* Former State Senator Mark Hounsell of Conway.

*  Former State Senator Deb Reynolds of Plymouth.

*  Former State Representative Martha McLeod of Franconia.

* James Tibbetts, executive vice chairman of the First Colebrook Bank.