Hampton area candidate endorsements, announcements for March 12 election: Letters

A new voice for Hampton’s families and future

To the Editor:

Hello! I am Carleigh Beriont, and I am running for Hampton’s Board of Selectmen. As a working mom of two young kids, I will bring a different set of experiences, relationships, and questions to the conversations and choices that the Select Board makes on behalf of our community.

How do we want our community to change over time? How will we prioritize and implement our goals for five, ten, twenty years from now? The current members of the board have served as responsible stewards for our community; my candidacy offers voters a new way to think about the future and the choices we make as a community.

I care deeply about communication, community, and children.

As a selectwoman, I would prioritize communication with our community and offer a new approach to connecting with voters about how and why our tax dollars are spent. When our town asks voters to approve a budget, we deserve to understand how that spending will make our lives better. I would also work to support the families who currently call Hampton home and welcome new ones by ensuring that everyoneis represented in conversations about the future of our town.

From our beaches and town forest to our librarians and school bus drivers, I love our town and the people who live and work here. My training as a historian has taught me to appreciate how and why Hampton has grown into the wonderful town that it is and to think every day about the future we are creating for our kids here. I want to be part of a Select Board that makes sound and strategic investments in our town with an eye toward our ever-changing world.

I am eager to hear from you. Please reach out to me with your questions or comments at selectberiont@gmail.com.

Carleigh Beriont


Find out what your fellow residents think about the candidates and issues on the March 12 ballot in our collection of local letters and endorsements.

Find out what your fellow residents think about the candidates and issues on the March 12 ballot in our collection of local letters and endorsements.

Exeter town attorney is wrong on Swasey Parkway petition

To the Editor:

I am writing regarding the recent article, “Attorney: Petition to reopen Swasey Park road isn’t valid.” Having lived in Exeter for almost 30 years and having spent that long dealing with the state Legislature and New Hampshire laws, rules, and regulations, I am appalled by what the town attorney said at the deliberative session and in the Newsletter article.

First, as a matter of law, a citizen’s petition goes on the ballot as written or as amended during the deliberative session. It is only the town attorney’s opinion that it isn’t valid. If it passes and the Select Board chooses to ignore it, a court may be asked to rule on it.

Second, the town attorney and the Select Board like to pick and choose how they interpret the court’s opinion on closing the portion of the parkway. Sometimes they have said that the judge “ordered” the parkway closed. Other times, like in this article, it is said that the 2022 warrant article closed and discontinued that portion of the parkway (Town attorney, “You discontinued, two years ago, a portion of the roadway, so that road no longer exists … from a legal standpoint, that road is discontinued and gone.”). In either of the town’s own interpretations, the Select Board violated the court’s “order” or the warrant article by allowing motor vehicles to enter the parkway last summer for the Farmers’ Market and arts & music events. The Select Board does not have the authority to grant waivers to the discontinuance and closure of a road to motor vehicles. Remember, the language excluding motor vehicles was specifically included in the 2022 warrant article and is binding on the Select Board.

Third, I believe that the judge’s ruling was that the town has the ability to close and discontinue the portion of the parkway; it was not an “order” to close and discontinue the parkway. It is up to the Select Board, in an open public session to vote to implement the 2022 warrant article. I do not believe that the board has done that yet. Consequently, the 2024 citizens’ petition warrant article is valid.

Fourth, the attorney is wrong that the article is invalid. Even if one concedes that the provision in the article regarding keeping the Parkway open is invalid, which I do not, the article has two parts. The second part is to “raise and appropriate the sum of $2.500 to construct speed bumps and maintain the road.” This provision is valid and, if passed, is mandatory that the money be raised and appropriated and can only be used for the purposes stated in the article.

Finally, actions and statements by town officials in other towns prior to an election, such as those by Exeter’s attorney, have been investigated by the attorney general and found to amount to election interference. RSA 659:44-a prohibits any town employee (e.g., the town attorney) from an action that is “in any way specifically designed to influence the vote of a voter on any question or office.” I believe, based on state law and experience in other towns, that the town attorney, by making such public declarations about the validity of the citizens’ petition article prior to the election, may have committed election interference.

Any of the voters who signed the citizens’ petition can, and should, ask the AG’s office to investigate the town attorney and the town’s Select Board’s actions for election interference.

Frank Ferraro

North Hampton

‘Kids deserve better’: Why Seabrook wants to break up with SAU 21 over poor test scores

de Vries asks for a second term on Hampton’s ZBA

To the Editor:

This March, I am finishing my first term on Hampton’s Zoning Board of Adjustments (ZBA). I hope that I have earned the confidence of Hampton voters and that you will consider checking the box next to Erica de Vries for ZBA again.

Hampton is a charming, quirky, fun, and proud town. It boasts a rich history, a vibrant business community, and talented, industrious, and committed residents. The ZBA should be part of – although not the only board responsible for – protecting the town’s unique character while also ensuring that landowners can make smart use of their properties. The work of the ZBA is balancing the larger community’s interest, as captured in our zoning ordinance, with property owners’ constitutional rights to have exceptions made when the application of the ordinance would result in an unconstitutional taking of their properties. It is serious business with real implications for people’s quality of life and for their livelihoods; I have taken my work on the ZBA very seriously.

Over the last three years, I have learned so much through studying applications, other ZBA members; generous mentoring, explanations from applicants, and thoughtful questions from their neighbors. With each application, I have tried to learn something new about building plans, setbacks, surveys, floodplains, and wetlands.

My goal has been to be fair and open-minded. I have tried to be respectful of people’s time and move things along, but never prioritizing being fast over coming to a hopefully correct, well-reasoned decision. I have worked, too, to exhibit restraint by keeping the ZBA’s review squarely within the lane of our authority. If the voters of Hampton agree that my service on the ZBA has been of value, then I hope you will vote to send me back for another three-year term. Thank you.

Erica R. de Vries


DeVries and O’Brien for Hampton Zoning Board

To the Editor:

The town of Hampton is fortunate to have two people running for the Zoning Board of Adjustment who understand and care about the laws that are required to help a community grow smoothly and efficiently.

Bill O’Brien and Erica DeVries have educated themselves on the regulations and ordinances that help us define what we have voted for our community to reflect. Bill and Erica have consistently behaved in a manner that reflects their integrity, solid moral compass, and unwavering resolve to perform their sworn duty ethically.

The laws governing the development and construction in a community are meant to preserve the investment of the land\homeowners. These laws are often established to provide orderly growth concerning the roads, sewer, waste, water, electrical, gas, school, police and fire services for all citizens contributing to town services. What gets constructed within a community often affects the proximity of traffic, drainage, and so much more. And that has a direct effect on our quality of life. The laws for land use are established by town ballot. The Zoning Board’s task is to see that any and all land use complies with the spirit of the laws. This is another place where both candidates excel.

The working of a town government is complex and can be confusing. Which board is responsible for which actions require a degree of study. The ZBA has strict guidelines, rules, and laws that must be followed. The board is established to make exceptions to those laws, within clear, well-defined guidelines. They must do their job under much public pressure that, all too often, would have them ignore laws and processes to promote the wishes of applicants who seek exceptions to those laws.

As voting citizens, we have a moral obligation to our community to elect people who will work to make certain that the wishes of the community that have been established by ballot will be complied with. The board members are not the people who make the rules. That is done by the vote of the community. Ms. DeVries and Mr. O’Brien have stood up to peer, neighborhood, and personal pressure to bend or ignore laws, and they have not wavered in their commitment to serve our entire town with integrity and knowledge of their tasks.

I have not agreed with them on every decision, but I have learned how their decisions complied with the laws where my opinion did not. But, I have learned from their decisions, and after learning, have come to agree with why their votes were cast.

This electoral contest is not a forum for changing the laws. It is not a contest on who is most popular with builders, or established owners. It is a contest over who has and will see that our laws are complied with in action and spirit. If one thinks that such laws are unnecessary, one can live off the grid and not bother with services, other people, or laws. If you are concerned about the orderly growth of our community, and about our laws for growth being complied with, please vote for Erica DeVries and William “Bill” O’Brien for the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Sheila Nudd


Gagalis seeks another term on North Hampton School Board

To the Editor:

My name is Lisa Gagalis, and I am running for re-election to the North Hampton School Board on March 12th.As a North Hampton native who attended North Hampton School (1996), Winnacunnet High School (2000), and the University of New Hampshire (2004), I know how exceptional our Seacoast community is.Being raised in North Hampton taught me the importance of quality school systems, public service, and community engagement. It has been an honor to serve as your School Board member these past two years, and I am asking for your vote to continue to serve for an additional three.

My roles as the vice chair and budget liaison have made me keenly aware of the issues our students, parents, teachers, and community members face. As a nurse, I understand the importance of implementing policies based on my experience as a healthcare provider. As a mother of three current North Hampton Jaguars, I appreciate the needs of our students and families in town. And as a daughter of two retirees living here, I understand the need to bring forward a fiscally responsible budget that all town members can support. I wear many hats in our community, and it has taught me that our ability to help others is only as strong as our ability to listen. Whether on the sidelines of my children’s Seacoast United soccer games, walking my two dogs through town, or listening to the bandstand summer concert series, I am always ready to listen. Your voices are essential to continuing the legacy of our fantastic Seacoast community and school.

Lisa Gagalis

North Hampton

Who’s on the ballot? Newcomers challenge incumbents in Hampton area Select Board races

Sillay announces reelection bid to North Hampton Planning Board

To the Editor:

I am pleased to announce that I will be running for the North Hampton Planning Board in the election on March 12.

I consider it a privilege to live in this beautiful town, embedded in a unique and picturesque New England setting. In fact, when IBM moved me to the Seacoast as a part of an international team doing software research in 1991, the site was purposely selected, as it was judged one of the most desirable locations to live on the East Coast.

After moving here, I was fortunate to meet my future wife, Deb Downey, who was raised in North Hampton. We purchased our home on Atlantic Avenue and raised our family (Sarah and Sam). And are blessed that Sarah and her husband Mike Maloney, and their three children are close by, also residing in North Hampton.

I have now been on the Planning Board for three years, first as an alternate member and most recently as a full member appointed to the unexpired term of the late Lauri Etela. I very much support the efforts to retain the rural character of our town, support all applicable regulations, and support the zoning ordinances that also protect our drinking water, our wetlands and the conservation of land.

I grew up in the Rochester, New York area, starting as a Chemistry major at SUNY Brockport, while co-oping at Kodak making organic chemicals.

Following that, I moved to Washington D.C., interning for the Mayor of Boston at the time (Kevin White). Realizing a career in law was not the direction I was most attracted to, I switched paths, restored historic houses on Capitol Hill and Georgetown, worked at the Library of Congress, and then went back to school, graduating with a degree from the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland and started working at IBM.

From there, IBM moved me here to New Hampshire, where I managed software research, large projects, and various teams. After retiring from IBM, I then worked for Liberty Mutual for almost 12 years before retiring at the end of 2023.

I would be honored to have your vote on March 12.

John Sillay

North Hampton

Jeff Grip: Why I’m running for Hampton Planning Board

To the Editor:

In 2023, the town of Hampton approved a vibrant and ambitious new Master Plan. As a member-at-large of Hampton’s Master Plan Implementation Committee, it is clear to me how broad-reaching this document is and how challenging it will be to implement. Ensuring our future vitality without damaging Hampton’s unique and historic character will require numerous careful decisions.

I hope to put my experience as a board member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and my 25 years as a leadership consultant to businesses of all sizes to good use as an elected member of the Planning Board.It is my strong conviction that to move forward with the robust support of the community, all parties must first understand the positions and acknowledge the passions on multiple sides of the issue. Given our varied geography and population, it will require patience, focus, and open communication to develop solutions based on our shared love of Hampton.

While the Master Plan envisions an exciting future, we are only beginning to prioritize actions that we can execute. To be successful, it is critical that Hampton’s Zoning Ordinance promotes choices that align with our vision. In the process, we can make the ordinance and building codes understandable to our citizens, not just to developers and attorneys.

I am eager to serve and hope voters will vote for me for the Hampton Planning Board.

Jeff Grip


Kotzen announces candidacy for North Hampton Planning Board

To the Editor:

My name is Jennifer Kotzen, and I am writing to introduce myself as a candidate for the North Hampton Planning Board in the March 12 town election. I would like to share a bit about my life experience and point of view so that you may know me better.

Originally from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, I earned a degree in geology from Brown University, which brought me to New England. After graduating, I lived in Rhode Island and then Massachusetts before being drawn to the New Hampshire seacoast and settling finally in North Hampton. My husband Mike and I raised our children here, both of whom attended North Hampton School and Winnacunnet High School. Outdoor enthusiasts and environmental advocates, Mike and I both feel very fortunate to call North Hampton our home. We’ve lived here now for 19 years.

I have spent the bulk of my professional career in high-tech product management and product marketing roles, working for Sun Microsystems, Hewlett Packard, and most recently VMware. Now retired, I currently serve as an alternate member of the North Hampton Conservation Commission.

Over the years, I have developed an increasing awareness and appreciation of how special our town is. I do not, however, take the loveliness of our community for granted. We are challenged today by very real development pressures, affordable housing concerns, coastal hazards, and business development needs. My family, like yours, depends on our planning board to address these challenges while maintaining focus on North Hampton’s long-term vision, which prioritizes residents’ quality of life and preservation of our rural seacoast character, heritage, and natural resources – priorities that I share.

I respect and support the hard work the Planning Board does on behalf of our community today to protect our wetlands, woodlands, and aquifers as well as the town’s rural aesthetic and charm. I would like to help continue this critical work as a North Hampton Planning Board member and would be honored to receive your vote on March 12.

Jennifer Kotzen

North Hampton

‘We’re struggling’: North Hampton mobile home owners face soaring tax bills after reval

Ferraro asks for your vote for North Hampton School Board

To the Editor:

My name is Frank Ferraro and I’m running for a seat on the North Hampton School Board. I’m running because I want to ensure that North Hampton children get a quality education. I also want to work to improve the transparency of the School Board and SAU so that parents and taxpayers have easy access to important information about our children and our school.

I spent six years on the North Hampton Budget Committee thoroughly reviewing the town and school budgets, so I’m well acquainted with the financial needs of our school. Over the past two decades, student enrollment in our school has declined to almost half of what it was, while per-student spending has almost doubled. This needs to be balanced with the costs of an aging infrastructure and the need to spend more on security.

Our School Board needs greater transparency. For example, if you’ve tried to access basic information about our School Board through our school’s website, you can’t find a link to our School Board. This is unacceptable.Up until recently, if you tried to find information about the proposed school budget for the next school year on the website, you couldn’t find it. It wasn’t until the issue was raised with the SAU that a link directing you to that information was on the school website.

I believe that the highest priority of any School Board is to ensure that the students receive a quality education while being mindful of the burden on taxpayers and the role of parents in their child’s education.

I ask for your vote in March.

Frank Ferraro

North Hampton

Bill O’Brien asks for your vote for Hampton Zoning Board

To the Editor:

I have served on Hampton’s Zoning Board of Adjustments for almost twenty years. My hope is that you will vote to send me back for another term so that I can continue to serve and share institutional knowledge with other board members.

I believe my commitment to detail and precision are assets to Hampton’s ZBA. This attention to detail is a byproduct of having served in the United States Air Force, where I led multiple electronics research projects, armament developments, and satellite system procurements as a vice commander, commander, and program director. I also hold a Master of Science degree in space physics, where precision matters.

Having evaluated more than 1,000 petitions on the ZBA, I have the skill set to review building and plot plans, the experience to assess applications against our zoning ordinance, and the judgment to determine whether applications meet the legally required criteria upon which relief must be granted.

Serving on the ZBA, I am committed to the integrity of the process. My intention has always been to evaluate each petition on its own merits. I have strived to reach informed and impartial decisions that serve the best interests of the town of Hampton, protect neighbors and town residents, and are fair to the applicant. I hope that Hampton voters agree and that they will cast their vote for me on March 12.

Bill O’Brien


Scott Blair seeks Hampton Budget Committee seat

To the Editor:

I’m seeking your vote to win the three-year slot on the Hampton Budget Committee at the March 12 election.

I will bring strengths gained from over 40 years in business as an accountant to effectively represent my fellow Hampton citizens.

Budget control and review must identify the longer-term consequences. I can bring a good perspective to the process.

I have previously served on the Budget Committee.

Sandy & I have been married for 55 years, certainly demonstrating my ability to see the other point of view.

We have lived in Hampton for 12 years. Since 2017, I have seen my property tax increase by $1,675, 22.5% or 3.8% per year (before my veteran’s credit). From 2017 to 2022 our published inflation rate was 3.6%. Adding in 2023 at 4.1% would put my tax increase below inflation for the period. I’m OK with this, but just barely. How much we pay in property tax is mainly due to our revenue, expenses, the value of our property, and our overall tax base. The budget committee plays a key role in affecting the final amount. I will do my best to ensure that the proposed expenses are in the best interest of Hampton, both long and short-term.

Scott Blair


To the Editor:

The purpose of this letter is to introduce myself and ask Hampton voters for their vote for one of two Hampton Planning Board positions on March 12th.

I am a professional engineer with 40 years of experience in design, procurement, and construction, as well as a former small business owner. In my work, I have presented construction projects to planning boards in New Hampshire cities and towns.

Hampton is fortunate to have a superlative town planner and a comprehensive Master Plan that has recently been approved. One of the most important tasks for the Planning Board, and Hampton residents, is to make our zoning regulations consistent with the Master Plan’s vision.

This winter has demonstrated that there are many important quality-of-life issues that require the Planning Board’s action. We need to protect our infrastructure from floods that are becoming increasingly more common. Other prominent issues include housing and cell tower siting regulations. Hampton’s Planning Board needs new energy and innovative ideas to address the challenges that are facing us now.

I have been a resident of Hampton since 1997, and my wife Anne and I raised our three children here. As I am recently retired, I have the knowledge and energy to serve the residents of Hampton with a fair and balanced approach to town planning. I will work hard to maintain and improve Hampton’s quality of life.

I am asking for your vote for the Hampton Planning Board on Tuesday, March 12th.

Sincerely yours,

John P. Tirrell


Why Seabrook needs to save school social worker

To the Editor:

On March 12, Seabrook voters will have the chance to save a social worker role, which is critical to helping Seabrook kids.

The social worker, whose name is Jessica Cormier, has been supporting the elementary and middle schools for three years. Her position was created based on a time study, which justified the need for a new full-time position. At the time, there was some federal CARES Act money available, which was used to fund this position. That funding has now dried up – and we are faced with the decision of whether to keep the role or eliminate it. I believe we very much need to have this position to support Seabrook kids.

As I spoke to the principals, teachers, and Jessica about this role, I learned a lot. One of the things she works on is absenteeism – which has been reduced significantly since Jessica began focusing on it.

Frequently, when she starts to dig into why a child is not showing up at school – it becomes like peeling an onion.

She may find that the family lost their car and can’t get the child to school; she may discover that the family is dealing with housing insecurity. Or substance abuse, mental illness or domestic violence. When she finds these situations, she is able to connect the family with resources who can help them. We are very fortunate in Seabrook to have some great social service agencies and town services. Often families just need to be connected with the people who can help. That’s what Jessica does – she connects them, builds a trusting relationship, and follows up to make sure things are moving in the right direction. She focuses on the kid – and how she’s going to help that kid show up at school ready to learn. There’ve been many success stories. She told me about a fourth-grader who was chronically absent; the mom was disengaged and the child was being raised by grandparents. Jessica got the family connected with support resources and stayed involved, following up and checking in on things. The mom is now employed and has her children back. That kid is now in sixth grade, has not missed one day of school this year, and is a high achiever.

This social worker position is the foster care point of contact and the liaison to the Department of Children and Families, representing the schools in court when required. She facilitates the multi-tiered system of support process for the middle school. She carries a caseload of individualized education plans (IEPs). Jessica also manages interns from UNH, who cost the town nothing; these interns help about 60 students each year with academic skills.Without her role that program could not exist.

If this position is cut, our already overworked administration, staff and teachers would do their best to pick up the pieces. But for sure, lots of kids would fall through the cracks. They wouldn’t get the help they need to get on track for success. As a taxpayer and a member of the community – I can’t think of anything I’d be more willing to invest in than making sure Seabrook kids get the support they need to succeed.

Laura Carty


This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: Hampton area candidate endorsements for March 12 election: Letters

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