A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview Jason Syversen (R-Dunbarton) candidate for state senate in District 16. You can watch the interview here. (Note, the interview starts about half way through the show.). Prior to that, I had a chance to speak to him extensively not just about the campaign but about himself and his reasons for running.
In short, Syversen could be the New Hampshire equivalent of Mr. Smith going to Washington. Brought to the campaign because of his wife’s work to stop the exploitation of young girls via human trafficking and oppose the legalization of prostitution in NH, Syversen didn’t have a political bone in his body before being asked to run. Oh sure, he paid attention to the news and cast his ballots, but running for office or otherwise being “politically active” wasn’t in his history nor did he desire to get involved. He was happy working with a myriad of non-profit organizations and helping eager entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground after he sold his successful cyber security enterprise. He and his wife used a significant percentage of the multi-million dollar sale of the business to endow a charitable foundation that supports a number of causes, which Syversen details in the interview above.
As the requests for him to run continued to come, he began to take a look at the race and how he could best help those he’s pledged to help via his charitable and entrepreneurial activities. Ultimately, he came to the conclusion that he could help lift more people out of poverty, help more businesses succeed and better protect the vulnerable citizens, especially vulnerable women and children, as a state senator.
In researching incumbent Senator Kevin Cavanaugh (D-Manchester Ward 1) he also found motivation. It wasn’t just that he thought Cavanaugh’s positions on many issues weren’t compatible with lifting people out of poverty, helping businesses and protecting women and children. It was also what he saw as a profound conflict of interest Cavanaugh had in being a highly compensated employ of a special interest group, making nearly $130,000 a year, who also sponsored, promoted and voted on legislation that his special interest employer and its associated interests wanted while they poured tens of thousands of dollars into his campaigns. That, he believed firmly, was fundamentally wrong and he’s vowed to change the ethics rules and laws in the state to disallow such self serving interests which ultimately come at the expense of ordinary citizens and businesses.
Syversen is a soft-spoken and considerate family man (with his biological and adopted children, he as six) who is a problem solver at heart with a strong professional background in technology and data that would be most useful in today’s day and age. He has attracted bipartisan support across the district, including from Democrats that are both impressed with his level of commitment to social service non-profits and put off by Cavannugh’s conflicts of interest. He has no ties to any political interest and, therefore, no strings to be pulled, no allegiances to be directed by and no conflicts to worry about. Thus far, he’s been content to answer questions in which he feels he has enough information to offer an answer and to defer answering when he needs to learn more. In other words, he doesn’t just carry the “party line.” He wants to make his own decision based on the information he gathers in learning about the issue.
Nonetheless, he has come up to speed on an impressive number of issues, in part because he’s dealt with many of them on the non-profit and business worlds in which he’s toiled all his life; a life that started and continued in poverty until he left home for college. Because of his humble beginnings, he wants to help people improve their lot in life and his life’s work to this point has been geared towards implementing those solutions. In the state senate, he can be counted on to ensure that the right, proper and limited role of government facilitates upward socio-economic mobility while ensuring those in need of help and in danger of exploitation are duly assisted and protected.
I came away from my interactions with Jason Syversen believing he will go to Concord and be every bit as sincere and successful as the mythical Mr. Smith who went to Washington, DC. He is the very kind of person most people would hope would offer themselves for public office; selfless, concerned, capable and convicted in a sense of right and wrong. He will be a citizen servant as a state senator, which will stand in refreshing contrast to the last two senators from District 16 who have made their special interest causes the object of their service, obvious conflicts of interest notwithstanding.
To the residents of District 16, which includes Manchester wards 1, 2 (where I live) and 12 and the tows of Hooksett, Dunbarton, Candia and Bow, I urge you to join me in voting for Jason Syversen for state senate! To learn more about Syversen, click here to visit his Web site.
~~Richard H. Girard