New Hampshire Democrats Take Part in Gubernatorial Forum

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The candidates spoke at an event organized by students and the Rockefeller Center.

Joyce Craig, Jonathan Kiper, and Cinde Warmington
New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial candidates, from left, Joyce Craig, Jonathan Kiper, and Cinde Warmington at the forum Wednesday at Dartmouth. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

The three candidates hoping to become the Democratic nominee for New Hampshire governor pitched themselves to young voters at Dartmouth on Wednesday as they tackled issues such as climate change, housing, and voting access.

Prescott Herzog ’25, president of the Dartmouth Democrats, started the night by pointing out a key voting bloc that could put one of the candidates in the governor’s office.

“No matter the winner of the Democratic primary, turning out young voters will be critical come November,” Herzog said.

The forum was co-sponsored by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences, Dartmouth Democrats, the New Hampshire College Democrats, and the New Hampshire Young Democrats. About 110 students and community members attended the forum in Filene Auditorium.

Moderators Vidushi Sharma ’27, a reporter for The Dartmouth, and Armita Mirkarimi ’25, a reporter for the Granite Post and part of the Dartmouth Civics leadership team, raised a series of issues with candidates Joyce Craig, Jonathan Kiper, and Cinde Warmington, starting with climate.

The candidates seemed mostly in sync with each other on this and other issues, but their backgrounds and experience suggested ways they might differ in their approaches.

Vidushi Sharma and Armita Mirkarimi moderating the forum
Vidushi Sharma ’27, left, and Armita Mirkarimi ’25 moderated the forum. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

Warmington, a member of the New Hampshire Executive Council, said outgoing Republican Gov. Chris Sununu’s administration hasn’t done much for alternative energy at a time of climate-driven floods, crop loss and seawall erosion. “We are so far behind because this administration is tied to the fossil fuel industry,” Warmington said.

Kiper, an artist and restaurateur who has served in Newmarket, N.H., town government, was more blunt in his prescription. “I want to sue ExxonMobil for knowingly causing global climate change,” he said.

Craig, who served three terms as mayor of Manchester, N.H., emphasized the importance of working with local communities in solving environmental problems. “There’s a sense of urgency,” she said. “New Hampshire has fallen very behind when it comes to addressing climate.”

The candidates also expressed concerns about Republicans tightening voter ID requirements through a bill that just passed the state Senate.

Warmington suggested that thousands of people could be disenfranchised if new requirements were made into law. “There is a concerted effort to suppress the vote because when Democrats vote, we win, and they know it,” she said.

Craig advocated for nonpartisan redistricting commissions and updated voting machines, and she criticized New Hampshire for being one of the few states that don’t allow registering to vote online. “We need to look at ways to make voting easier,” she said. “Democracy is on the line.”

Kiper agreed with Craig in supporting online voter registration. “It’s fundamental to democracy that everyone is able to vote,” he said.

When the candidates were asked about education, they called out private vouchers for taking money away from public education, worried about rising college tuition costs, and talked up trade schools.

“We need to be engaging with business so that we are developing the students that we need for the future, and many of those are going into the trades,” Warmington said. “We need the trades, and we need to be investing in those apprenticeship programs.”

Kiper noted the state has some great vocational schools, and that not everyone should feel like they have to go to college. 

Craig described a program she pushed as mayor to help kids go to local colleges debt-free, suggesting this might be applied at the state level. “It’s also a great way to retain young people in our state,” she said.

On the issue of housing, Kiper noted that some of his customers and employees couldn’t afford to live in New Hampshire, a state that needs to hold on to its young people to remain economically vibrant.

“My big reason for running is because I live in a 740-square-foot apartment above my restaurant with my son and my girlfriend,” he said. “And it’s just gotten really expensive to live in New Hampshire.”

Craig mentioned that before the forum, she’d talked to some out-of-state students about what it would take for them to stay in New Hampshire after graduation. “We want to build a state where young people want to come and stay and raise their family and work here,” she said. “That’s how we build a thriving community throughout our state.”

Quinn Allred ’26, who serves as executive director for Dartmouth Democrats and vice president for the New Hampshire College Democrats, was happy with how the candidates paid attention to issues young voters care about.

“It was exactly what we were looking for,” said Allred, who predicts young voters will turn out in high numbers this year.

The Rockefeller Center hopes to hold a similar forum for Republican candidates before the Sept. 10 state primary.

Matt Golec