By Julie Huss
---- — As the year winds down, newly elected local politicians and seasoned veterans are getting ready for what the new year will bring.
In Derry and Londonderry, incumbents and newcomers made the cut in the November election and will be heading to Concord to tackle the new session that starts Jan. 2.
Many key issues affecting both towns are on the minds of officials and representatives. Those issues include budget constraints, infrastructure, jobs, education and gambling.
For Derry newcomer Mary Till, it’s a chance to do her part to learn all she can about state government and represent her town.
Till was one of two female Democrats to win a spot in Derry’s District 6, a traditional Republican stronghold.
Her priorities heading to Concord include keeping the state clean and green.
“I have requested Science, Technology and Energy as my first committee choice,” said Till, a retired mechanical engineer. “I believe a clean, healthy environment is a fundamental building block to a good life. I will do everything I can to protect our air, our water, food supply and land from inadvertent and careless pollution.”
Her support lies in increased energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.
Getting along on the state level is also key.
“I certainly hope the Legislature can work together in a respectful, bipartisan manner, identifying areas where we agree and finding compromise whenever possible,” Till said.
Londonderry Republican Sherman Packard said he is looking forward to what January brings.
Packard, a 22-year Statehouse veteran, said he will continue his interests with transportation issues. Money, he said, is key.
“The most important thing is making sure we have a balanced budget,” he said.
Packard said the new session always brings in a lot of new faces in the Senate and House. A new governor also adds change to the mix. Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan takes over next week for retiring Gov. John Lynch.
Derry’s Brian Chirichiello heads to Concord for his second term. He, too, has transportation on his mind.
Chirichiello doesn’t know what committee he will be assigned to, but hopes to work on the state’s highway issues, especially the Interstate 93 project.
“I would like to see us work on getting I-93 completed,” he said.
Chirichiello is also in favor of gambling coming to Rockingham Park in Salem.
“I believe gambling will be a big issue in this term,” he said.
Rep. Frank Sapareto of Derry won another term in the November election and said the state’s spending is at the top of the priority list.
“Absolutely the biggest issue facing this Legislature is the budget,” Sapareto said. “New Hampshire has very limited revenue sources, but a very large list of services the new majority wants to provide. How the checkbook is balanced will affect us all.”
Jim Rausch returns to Concord for another term as District 19 senator representing Derry, Windham and Hampstead.
Rausch will work on transportation and safety issues. He also supports the I-93 project and bringing expanded gaming to the racetrack in Salem.
Gaming could help the state’s coffers. Derry could make out in the deal, Rausch said.
“Abutting communities will have a percentage of the revenue from gaming,” he said.
Till hopes her time in Concord will be spent working on good budget decisions, creating jobs and supporting new business.
“The 2014-2015 budget will be the primary focus this year,” she said. “Revenues will be low and we will have to make some tough choices. We need to insure that we have adequate funding for education/job training, healthcare, infrastructure and environmental protection. We need to restore some balance so that the fundamental needs our citizens are addressed.”
For Packard it will be a new year of hope, new relationships, and a strong desire for everyone to get along and get the work done.
“That’s our hope, “he said. “Only time will tell.”