Hounsell to run for executive council

November 19th, 2013 by Lynn

    By Lloyd Jones

    CONWAY — A week after setting up an exploratory committee, former State Senator Mark Hounsell announced Tuesday he will indeed run for executive councilor in District I, the seat his good friend Ray Burton held until his death Nov. 12.

    “I am announcing today that I will become a candidate for the office of Executive Councilor, District 1,” Hounsell stated in release Tuesday morning. “I will run as a member of the Democrat Party.

    “I have the knowledge and the experience necessary to do the people’s work,” he added. “I look forward to getting to meet as many of the people who live in the 108 towns and four cities that make up District 1 as I can.”
     
    Governor Maggie Hassan announced Monday a special election to fill the vacancy has been set. The primary will be held on Jan. 21, with a general election to follow, if necessary, on the March 11 town meeting day. If only one candidate from each party files for the election, the general election will be held on Jan. 21 instead of March 11.
     
    A four-day filing period for the election has been set: Nov. 25, 26, 27 and Dec. 2.
     
    “All of New Hampshire continues to mourn the passing of Ray Burton, one of the most dedicated and caring public servants that the North Country and our entire state have ever known,” Hassan said. “Though no one can truly replace Councilor Burton, and the pain of his loss remains fresh, Ray would want the people’s work to move forward as quickly as possible.”
     
    State statute requires the governor to declare a special election within 21 days of the seat being vacant.
     
    Burton served as executive councilor representing District 1 for 36 years. He passed away from kidney cancer.
     

    Hounsell set up an exploratory committee — the Hounsell For Council Committee — to determine what would be in the best interest of the people of the district, and, after receiving positive feedback, decided to throw his hat into the ring for the executive council seat.

    “I do stress that there exists no candidate equipped to do the work performed by Ray Burton,” Hounsell said. “However, as a lifelong resident of the North Country. my experience and knowledge is very unique”

    Hounsell was up front that Burton cannot be replaced.

    “I’m not looking to replace Ray Burton. No one can,” he said by phone Tuesday. “I’ll use Ray Burton as an example of how it should be done. There’s only one Ray Burton.”

    Hounsell says he will run as a Democrat “with sincere attention given to both Republican and Independent ideas,” he said.

    A Republican, Burton was first elected to the council in 1977. Aside from a brief time in 1980, he was re-elected every two years since then. The five-member council approves state contracts and nominations.

    Grafton County Commissioner Mike Cryans, who lives in Hanover, announced Tuesday he will also seek the Democratic nomination. The 62-year-old Cryans is a Littleton native.

    Hounsell, who currently serves on the Conway School Board, was appointed by Burton and the full executive council in April as the newest member of the State Public Employee Labor Relations Board. He was nominated to the post by Gov. Hassan.

    Hounsell, who holds a degree in medieval studies and philosophy from Plymouth State University, began his political career in 1976 when he was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Conway Municipal Budget Committee. He later was elected as constable for the Town of Albany from 1981-82, and he was elected to the N.H. State Senate in 1984 and reelected in 1986.

    “I have never been a populist. I never looked to be popular,” he said. “There are two contributors to this. The first is that by wanting to be popular, your ability to see the issues are clouded. The second is popularity is a fleeting thing.”

    Hounsell first served on the Conway Board of Selectmen from 1999-2002, and then ran for second term in 2005. He also served on the Conway School Board in 2005, following the path of his good friend, the late Dick O’Brien, who served on both seats simultaneously prior to his death.

    Hounsell doesn’t believe a candidate for executive council needs to be already entrenched in Concord.

    “I was told similar things when I first stated out that you’ve got to have been there and be part of the establishment,” he said. “I didn’t believe it in 1984 and I don’t believe it now.”

    A memorial service for Burton has been set for Dec. 14 at 1 p.m. at the Hartman Student Union Building at Plymouth State University.

     

    Accolades and Thanks Pour in for Ray Burton

    November 12th, 2013 by Lynn

    By Erik Eisele

    CONWAY — Appreciations and accolades continue to pour in for longtime North Country executive councilor Raymond Burton following the announcement last month he will not seek re-election in 2014 due to serious health issues.

    Burton revealed in late October the cancer he began battling in February was back, prompting the end of his re-election bid. The news has been a shock to many across Burton’s district, which stretches from the Lakes Region to the Canadian border. For many it is hard to conceive of anyone else in the executive councilor seat, which Burton has filled since the 1970s.

    The news prompted a wave of thanks for the 74-year-old political icon.

    Officials at the New Hampshire Department of Safety announced on Friday a new fire training facility in Bethlehem will be named in Burton’s honor.

    The new facility will be called the Raymond S. Burton North Country Fire and EMS Training Facility, according to a statement from the Department of Safety.

    “Ray Burton has provided unmatched dedication and public service to the people of the North Country,” Gov. Maggie Hassan said in the statement. “It is fitting to name this new facility in Ray Burton’s honor as it seeks to train future generations of public servants to watch over and protect our communities.”

    Construction began last week. The first phase, a four-story burn building for practicing firefighting techniques, is scheduled to be done in January. The rest of the project, which includes classroom space, a meeting room and a field office, has yet to be scheduled.

    “We are so pleased to name our facility after Councilor Burton,” said Deborah Pendergast, director of N.H. Division of Fire Standards & Training and EMS, “a strong advocate for not only the needs of the citizens in his district, but of the needs of the emergency responders.”

    The announcement came one week after Burton was recognized by both the Department of Transportation and by his alma mater, Plymouth State University, for his decades of work for the region and the state.

    Plymouth State presented Burton with the Henry W. Blair Award for Distinguished Public Service, named for a Plymouth-area lawyer who served as a lieutenant colonel in the Civil War before his election to U.S. Congress in 1866 and the U.S. Senate in 1878. The award is the university’s most esteemed award for public service.

    “Ray Burton is there for everyone, advocating for what is fair and right, tireless in his commitment,” Plymouth State University president Sara Jayne Steen said in a statement. “He is a true native son of the Granite State.”

    “It was humbling to know that I won such a prestigious recognition,” Burton, who graduated from Plymouth State in 1961, said.

    The Blair Award was announced the same day Burton was the guest of honor at a dedication ceremony of a new scenic rest area along Route 302 in Twin Mountain. The new rest area, which includes a panoramic view of Mount Washington and the southern Presidential Range, as well as the Mount Washington Hotel, will bear Burton’s name, and a marker bears his likeness.

    “Thank you for more than 40 years of steadfast dedication and unmatched public service to the people of the North Country, and to all of New Hampshire,” Gov. Hassan said in her remarks, delivered with a frail yet smiling Burton just a few feet away. “On behalf of the people of New Hampshire, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for making your life’s work the people’s work.”

    Lake Faces: Ray Burton

    October 26th, 2008 by Julie

    Burton, officials discuss Plymouth airport

    August 28th, 2008 by Julie

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