Former state Senator Molly Kelly of Harrisville announced that she is running for governor. She will face former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand in the Democratic Party primary and possibly face Republican incumbent Gov. Chris Sununu in November.
All Things Considered host Peter Biello spoke with Kelly about her campaign.
So why did you decide to enter the race now?
You know, Peter, I have lived in New Hampshire for a long time and I've worked here in New Hampshire. I've raised a family in New Hampshire. And you know I was a state senator in New Hampshire, so I love this state and I really care about the people here. But I have become increasingly more and more concerned about the direction that our state is going and it has become impossible for me to just sit by and to watch those things that are happening that I think are wrong for New Hampshire. I just cannot be a bystander. And so I've decided to take on Sununu and to win because we need to make changes in New Hampshire.
Well what are some of those changes? Why do you feel like we're on the wrong track right now?
Well, Peter what I really want for New Hampshire is I want a New Hampshire where everybody has a chance to succeed. I want to provide the opportunities and pathways - things like education and training.
You know when I worked in the Senate, I worked really hard to make sure that there were resources and education--for education, I'm sorry. And for a trained, skilled workforce. What I think has to happen is we need to engage our young people with all their creativity and their great ideas so and combine that with our great traditions of New Hampshire of hard work and independent thinking. And instead, what's going on, is we continue to lose the funding for education and training and our young people are leaving New Hampshire. For example, how can we continue to support public education and invest in public education when we've got such things as voucher programs to be implemented and legislation that would actually be taking money from public schools and giving it to private and religious schools. So those are big things that I care about and the things that we can do today in New Hampshire, instead of turning backwards, going in the wrong direction.
You're joining a Democratic primary now currently occupied by one other candidate Steve Marchand. How would you differentiate yourself from Steve Marchand?
Well, as I talked to you a little bit earlier Peter, I mentioned to you my 10 years in the Senate. I know how to work with legislators. I know how difficult it is to get legislation passed. I know how to make difficult decisions. A lot of my experience in the Senate has prepared me to be governor and this is the moment I will seize and to move forward, running a very hard grassroots campaign.
Is there a particular policy difference between yourself and Steve and that you think voters will really care about?
Right now I think that the most important thing that I can talk to you about and to get out and talk with voters about the things that are really important to me. We have an opioid epidemic right now that we must be addressing. I was one of the first senators who actually brought that to the attention to the state Senate and will continue to address that issue until this epidemic is gone. I think one of the problems that we've had is we have been addressing -- we have not been addressing the epidemic as a health care epidemic like we do address other health care issues. What I've seen is more like throwing darts at different issues. No sustainable funding. No consistency. Nothing that anyone can depend on. We would not do that Peter if this was a different kind of epidemic. So we need to address this as if it is a health epidemic.
Gun control has become a major piece of the Democratic Party platform ahead of the midterm election. What gun policies do you think the state needs to pursue?
Well, I think that what we need are common sense gun safety laws and to enact those laws. It is about gun safety. That's what it's about.
So what would common sense look like to you? Pardon me. But will common sense look like to you?
The first thing I would do is I would reinstate the policy that Sununu - that he actually repealed, about permits for a concealed weapon.
One of the things we talk about when you think about common sense is you know people have to go and talk to somebody who is local in their community - a sheriff, a police officer - and to receive a permit to carry that concealed weapon. They know each other. We know each other in communities. That's just an element of safety that's important. And that was the first thing that Chris Sununu did when he came into government. I am so proud of those young people who have stood up and talked about safety, their own safety in their schools, and no more deaths for them and others with guns.
So there's a lot of things that we can do. We certainly don't need weapons of war in our homes and in our communities. So that's a stricter background checks. Lots of things that we can do. But it's about safety. And we all have to, we all have to get together and make that happen. I'm committed to it. I want to stand with those young people and we're going to make those kind of changes.