Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Local NH politics, meet the Millenial Generation

Thesis work and other such things have kept me away from blogging for about the past week, so I've missed out on some pretty big stories. There is one, however, that I'd like to double back and comment upon, no matter how untimely it may be.

You may have heard something about Vanessa Sievers, the 20-year-old college student from Montana who was elected a county treasurer in New Hampshire. Vanessa is a former treasurer of the Dartmouth College Democrats, her family’s bookkeeper, and a NH Democratic campaign staffer. None of this, however, stopped the three-term incumbent she beat, Carol Elliott, from angrily telling the local paper (a full week after the election) that Vanessa is an unqualified "teenybopper" elected by "brainwashed" college kids who aren't "real people." The story became national news when the AP and the New York Times both picked up on Elliott’s comments. You can read the original story from last Wednesday’s original NH/VT Valley News here, the NYT story here, and the AP coverage here.

Why am I mentioning this now? Because for me, this is not a national story but one I read in the local paper well before it hit the wires. Like Vanessa, I am a Dartmouth student and a member of the College Democrats. While I did not vote for her, as you can see on this picture of my ballot, I have known her for about two years and am confident that she will do a good job for us here in Grafton County. Elliott may view me and other college kid as illegal immigrants rather than “real people” (remind you of anyone?), but I think of myself as a firmly entrenched member of the local community. By the time the NYT and AP had picked up on the story, I had already fired off this letter to the editor, which ran in Sunday’s Valley News.

To the Editor,

As a Dartmouth student and active Upper Valley resident, I was deeply offended by outgoing Grafton County Treasurer Carol Elliott's remarks on the front-page of Wednesday's Valley News. Elliot's comment that only "brainwashed" people would dare vote against her is perhaps the most bitter and undemocratic thing she should could have said.

I have known our new treasurer, Vanessa Sievers, for two years. Although I did not vote for her, I have never doubted that she is an intelligent and hard-charging young woman who will do an outstanding job. It was a tough ballot to cast, and I did not make up my mind until I reached the voting booth; but I ultimately decided on the three-term incumbent rather than the Montana transplant. Because of Elliot's sore loser remarks, I now deeply regret that vote. Vanessa is no "teenybopper," and unless Elliot would like to be called a geezer, she should stop making similarly uninformed slurs about younger generations.

Congratulations, Vanessa! I apologize for not voting for you. It was a big mistake, and I know you will to do a wonderful job for our county. And it is indeed "our" county. While Elliott may not believe students are "real people," the truth is that Grafton County is very much my home. I gave up my Idaho driver's license for a New Hampshire license, and my car, before its untimely demise, had New Hampshire plates. I pay New Hampshire meal taxes and New Hampshire property taxes affect my rent. I have a Howe library card, read the Valley News, and am a member of both New Hampshire Public Radio and the Hanover Co-op. If I am ever in trouble, it is the Hanover Police and the staff of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center who will come to my aid.

There are many more students like me, both here and in Plymouth. Our schools do much to benefit their surrounding communities, and so our voices should be welcomed by those communities. For Elliott to suggest otherwise is arrogant, bitter, and unbecoming of a good citizen.

Nathan Empsall

As for Elliott's remarks about our country registrar of deeds… no comment.


Cany said...

Wonderful letter... love the geezer part:)

Given I am, no doubt, over twice your age, I am coming to understand the word geezer as being both male and fun. That said, being female and not fun, I have escaped the term entirely.

Good job!

Nathan Empsall said...

I had initially said "brain-dead geezer." In hindsight, I am grateful to the editors for editing that little part out. :)