As originally published in Medium: Here
By Dominic LeBel
Posted at 10:00 am on February 5, 2016
With the frenzy of the New Hampshire primary season reaching its peak this week, I’ve started to reflect on the tremendous responsibility we have in New Hampshire to select a party nominee who will protect and invest in our future.
As Vice President of Plymouth State College Republicans, I’m looking for concrete policy proposals the various candidates have that relate to voters like me — more specifically, those who are preparing to enter the job market in a few short months. Of particular interest to me, and many millennial voters like me, are policies and initiatives that take a responsible approach to renewable energy reform and the environment. Renewable energy reform is a proven job creator and a major driver of the U.S. economy. Wind, solar, nuclear, and natural gas development are already impacting family budgets and business profitability in New England. Renewable energy reform has been a winning political issue for leaders like Sen. Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire in the past, and it’s something nearly all college students want to hear more about.
Working as the Field Representative for Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions NH this year has provided me with the unique opportunity to have an ongoing conversation with each of the Presidential candidates. I, along with other CRES staff, was able to ask each of the 17 Republican presidential candidates “As President, how would you address America’s energy, economic, and climate security?” Their responses, while varied, emphasized the importance of an all of the above energy policies that would help the environment while strengthening the economy.
Throughout 2015 and 2016, CRES has worked with prominent New Hampshire Republicans, from Senator Kelly Ayotte to Franklin Mayor Ken Merrifield, to help promote conservative clean energy solutions that will help reduce pollution, improve public health, and secure an energy future that will grow our economy. In fact, Republican primary voters in New Hampshire are overwhelmingly concerned about the future of American energy policy. A recent poll commissioned by CRES found that 59% of Republican primary voters would support a candidate who supports clean energy. Republican voters agree that common sense energy solutions have a role to play in lowering gas prices, restoring jobs, and growing our economy.
This past weekend, CRES sponsored the 2016 First in the Nation Presidential Townhall. This put CRES in the thick of over 1,000 New Hampshire primary voters and grassroots organizers, where activists were keen to discuss energy independence and describe the important role conservation plays in our state.
The townhall also gave me a chance to follow up on conversations with six of the current candidates regarding their clean energy policies. While CRES volunteers had already spoken to every Presidential candidate at individual campaign events, it was enlightening to see how each candidate’s visions of the future compared on the same stage.
Throughout the day, 2016 presidential candidates made their pitch to voters along with New Hampshire’s leaders. This included Senator Kelly Ayotte, a strong voice in Washington working towards free market, pro-growth clean energy solutions. Mayor Ken Merrifield of Franklin was also in attendance, and he spoke specifically about CRES’ work and introduced a recent ad commissioned by CRES that emphasizes the importance of conservatives leading on clean energy solutions in New Hampshire. Merrifield told the crowd, “We are the practical party…the party that can find solutions that are environmentally friendly and at the same time provide the pre-requisites for a red hot economy”.
It’s certainly been quite a year working alongside CRES in New Hampshire. With our primary less than a week away, it is clear voters are looking for a candidate ready to both grow our economy and protect our environment. Whoever our party’s nominee is in 2016, he or she should bring solutions to the table that use the free market to propel the United States to lead the world in clean energy production.
Dominic LeBel is the Vice President of Plymouth State University College Republicans.