Dan Feltes is running to be the Governor of New Hampshire. Feltes has been the State Senate Majority Leader, former legal aid attorney, father, and husband. As a State Senator, Dan worked across the aisle to expand access to health care for 50,000 Granite Staters, protect people with pre-existing conditions, invest in renewable energy, and establish the toughest drinking water standards in the country. Now, he’s ready to serve as your Governor. Dan was kind enough to sit down to answer our 5 questions.
Why did you decide to run for office?
I grew up in a working-class family; my father worked in a furniture factory for his entire adult life and my mom worked part-time jobs including the night shift while raising four kids. My parents fought hard to provide for me and my siblings. The values instilled in me–hard work, honesty, integrity, and looking out for people who are left out and left behind have motivated me my entire life. Those values led me to turn down jobs as a corporate attorney and take a job with New Hampshire Legal Assistance. For almost a decade, including during the last economic crisis, the Great Recession, I represented low-middle income Granite Staters, seniors, veterans, and victims of domestic violence. But too often I saw the folks I represented falling through the cracks. Laws weren’t written with them in mind; they were written behind closed doors to benefit the wealthy and the well connected. That’s why I ran for the State Senate back in 2014 and why I’m running for Governor now. We need a relief and recovery effort that works for everyone. Working families need someone in their corner and someone who understands what they’re going through and who will fight for them.
What experience has made you most prepared for public office?
During the last economic crisis, the Great Recession, I tried my best to help folks get back on their feet. I battled Wall Street banks foreclosing on homeowners all across New Hampshire. I fought for unemployment and health care for those who needed it most. I was in the trenches in the relief and recovery efforts for ordinary folks. My experiences as a legal aid lawyer shaped my work in the state senate and gave me a unique understanding of the challenges folks are facing right now. To address these issues, we need to elect a Governor who will wake up every day ready to fight for working families. I’ll finally pass paid family and medical leave, fix our broken campaign finance system, expand access to health care, fight for those at risk of eviction or foreclosure, invest in the jobs of tomorrow in clean energy, health care, broadband, and housing because I understand what folks are going through and that good-paying jobs are critical to economic success. This election is about building a bigger, better, and brighter future for everyone.
Why are you most qualified for the position?
I ran for State Senate to tackle problems head-on and to write laws that help working families and put Granite Staters first. As a State Senator, I worked across the aisle to expand access to health care for 50,000 Granite Staters, protect people with pre-existing conditions, invest in renewable energy, and establish the toughest drinking water standards in the country. I sponsored critical legislation designed to help working families like paid family and medical leave, job training, and expanded access to substance use disorder treatment, but they were all vetoed by a Governor who puts corporate special interests above working families. As one of the budget writers, I helped secure the greatest education funding budget in state history and as Chair of Senate Ways and Means, I understand how we can build progressive budgets without a broad-based tax. This economic crisis is unlike anything we’ve seen since the Great Recession and we need someone who understands what folks are going through, who is willing to fight for them, and who understands that now is a time to support Granite Staters not cut taxes for big corporations and corporate special interests.
What cause are you most passionate about?
Real change comes from the grassroots, from our communities; and when the voices of those left out and left behind are finally heard. But, right now, our democracy is broken. It’s not just Washington, DC, it’s right here in New Hampshire too. The wealthy and well-connected have the power and everyday people — those without lobbyists or Governor’s cell-phone number — are left behind. These issues existed well before COVID-19, but this public health crisis is shining a new light on how critical it is that we change our system and elect leaders who are dedicated to these major reforms. We have a campaign finance system that puts corporations before people and rewards top donors over the working class. We need to reform our campaign finance system so that people, not big corporations, come first. We need to include, not exclude people in our democracy and build a system that works for everyone, not just those at the top. That starts with fixing our democracy.
What advice would you give someone who is assuming an elected position for the first time?
My advice for someone assuming elected for the first time is don’t ever forget what this is all about and who you work for. You ran for office to make a difference, to improve the lives of Granite Staters, and you work for your constituents. Each and every day you can make a difference. I didn’t run for the state senate to be a senator, I ran to finally pass paid family and medical leave insurance and to pass full-day kindergarten, and right now I’m not running for governor to be governor, I’m running because if we’re going to make progress on so many critical issues then we need to beat Chris Sununu. Don’t ever forget why you got involved in the first place. And always listen to those marching and calling for change, because the best ideas come from the ground up, not the top down.
Look for more 5 question interviews with our NH candidates in the coming days and weeks. If you are running for public office and would like to participate in our “5 question interviews,” please email us at NewsFlector@gmail.com