Ray Burton

Voters in northern New Hampshire will head to the polls tomorrow to pick a new Executive Councilor.

    

On the Political Front this morning, NHPR's Josh Rogers discusses the results of last week's Republican primary to fill Ray Burton's Executive Council seat, as well as legislation on the docket for this week that would allow for casino gambling and legalizing marijuana in the Granite State.

Chris Jensen

Voters in Executive Council District 1 went to the polls Tuesday in a primary over the seat held by Ray Burton, who died in November.

Three Republicans Mark Aldrich of Lebanon, Christopher Boothby of Meredith and, Joseph Kenney of Wakefield are vying to see who will face Hanover Democrat Michael Cryans in March.

In Littleton the turnout was extremely light, says Gerald Winn, the town moderator.

“We opened at eight this morning and we’re four and a half hours in and there are fifty people who voted.”

Bruce Lyndes / Plymouth State University

Executive Councilor Ray Burton, who died November 12th, was remembered yesterday at  a Memorial Service held at Plymouth State University.  Dignitaries large and small gathered together with Burton's friends and family to remember the longtime political face of the North Country.  NHPR's Sean Hurley attended the event and sends us this report.

Photo courtesy of Grafton County Commission

Michael Cryans, a Grafton County Commissioner, plans to run for the Executive Council seat left empty by the death of Ray Burton.

Cryans is a Democrat and Littleton native who for sixteen years has been a county commissioner, serving alongside  Burton, a Republican.

In 1996 Cryans ran against Burton for executive council and lost.

But last year, in the race for county commissioner, Burton endorsed Cryans over a Republican challenger.

Ray Burton’s burial will be private, says BJ Perry, his administrative assistant. But there will be a public memorial service on December 14th.

It will start at 1 p.m. at Plymouth State University in the student union, Perry said.

Burton died less than three weeks after he announced his kidney cancer, said to be in remission, had returned and he would not seek re-election next year.

Ray Burton, the state’s longest serving Executive Councilor, and a political force in the Northern part of the state for more than 30 years, has died at the age of 74. Burton had kidney cancer.  Across the state leaders on both side of the aisle remember Burton as a consummate public servant.

Chris Jensen, NHPR

Less than three weeks after Executive Councilor Ray Burton announced his kidney cancer was no longer in remission he died.

A new fire training facility in the North Country will be named after Executive Councilor Ray Burton, said Deborah A. Pendergast, the director of the state’s division of Fire Standards & Training and Emergency Medical Services.

The center, located in Bethlehem, will allow fire fighters from the North Country to learn fire fighting techniques without the cost and time involved in traveling to Concord.

“It gives the folks up in that area a facility that meets their needs,” she said in a telephone interview.

Executive Councilor Ray Burton has received Plymouth State University’s highest award for public service, only the third time the honor has been given in almost a decade.

The Henry W. Blair Award for Distinguished Public Service was created in 2004.

“It is for distinguished public service, it recognizes someone who has devoted – as Henry Blair did – a life to making the world better through strong public service,”  PSU president Sara Jayne Steen said in an interview. “And, in that sense of course, Ray is the perfect candidate.”

It is hard to imagine there have been many openings of roadside scenic areas that attracted three former governors, a sitting governor and two US Senators as well as dozens of state office holders.

But that happened Friday afternoon in the North Country during a ceremony to honor longtime Executive Councilor Ray Burton.

In theory the ceremony was for the opening of the scenic area on US 302 across from the Mount Washington Hotel.

But it was really about North Country Executive Councilor Ray Burton, who arrived in the back seat of a yellow convertible.

A new scenic overlook will be opened Friday in the North Country and the plans include honoring Executive Councilor Ray Burton.

The new overlook and rest area is on Route 302 just across from the Mount Washington Hotel.

It cost about $1.4 million and replaces a much smaller pull-off on the other side of the road.

The old area had room for five cars or two buses which state highway officials say caused traffic problems and raised safety concerns. The new area has room for 22 cars and six buses.

On the Political Front, NHPR's Josh Rogers discusses the legacy of longtime Executive Councilor Ray Burton.

Burton, a Republican from Bath, announced over the weekend that he would not be seeking reelection after learning that his kidney cancer had returned. 

State of New Hampshire

Ray Burton, a Republican who has represented the North Country for four decades, says his kidney cancer has returned and he won’t be seeking re-election.

Burton has served as both Executive Councilor and a Grafton County Commissioner.

Earlier this year Burton, who lives in Bath, said he had cancer but it was curable.

For much of the year he has been attending functions throughout the North Country, his cancer said to be in remission.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

With 94 of 112 precincts reporting veteran Executive Councilor Ray Burton of Bath has about 71 percent of the votes, easily rebuffing challenger Jerry Thibodeau of Rumney.

Burton had almost 14,500 votes compared to about 5,800 for Thibodeau.

Burton effortlessly put down a revolt by some Republican representatives in the North Country who thought he was too moderate and urged his defeat.

In November Burton will face Democrat Beth Funicella.

Here’s how this year’s election in the North Country – including the September 11th primary - is shaping up, according to filings with the New Hampshire Secretary of State.

* Longtime Coos County Commissioner Bing Judd is being challenged by Rick Samson - also a Republican – who is deeply involved in the opposition to the Northern Pass hydro-electric project. There is no Democratic opponent.

 * Executive Councilor Ray Burton of Bath faces another Republican, Gerard L. Thibodeau of Rumney in the primary.  Democrat Beth Funicella of Jackson has also filed.

Executive Councilor Ray Burton of Bath says he tried unsuccessfully to keep Meredith Hatfield as the state’s consumer advocate on public utility matters because she has been “independent minded” and helped consumers.

But last week the Republican controlled Executive Council voted 3 – 2 against re-appointing Hatfield who represents consumer interests before the Public Utilities Commission.