Category Archives: UVDem Programs 2017

Photos from Upper Valley Democrat Events in 2017

Speaker Programs

November 20 Monday Night Speaker Program: CIVICS 104 

The facilitator, Karen Liot Hill, launches into her final civics workshop. Photo by Bill Secord.

At our final civics workshop, Karen Liot Hill (a seven-term Lebanon City Councilor and the Grafton County treasurer) focused on local March elections for our towns and cities; from the City Council, down to the dog catcher.

She emphasized that running as a candidate in local politics is generally non-partisan and provides a wonderful opportunity to gain experience. Karen drew on the homework assignment (Identify the voter turnout; # votes cast/# voters for your town) to show us that only10% -12% of voters turn out to vote in local elections. She shared a calculation showing that the percentage value of each vote increases as the total number of votes decreases. This made it clear how important each vote is in a low turnout election and how important the GOTV (Get Out The Vote) effort is, especially in local elections.

There has been an erosion of Democratic candidates recently at the state and local level. Republicans have done a much better job of keeping these positions filled. If we Democrats can field more local candidates, we will have a greater chance of building the bench and gradually building up the ranks.

To see Karen’s presentation, click here.

A big thank you to Karen for  her  four workshops on civics. Many us are recent arrivals in New Hampshire and  have benefitted tremendously from the workshops. Some of us have even been inspired to run for local office.

Save the date for our first 2018 program on Education, TUESDAY, January 23, 2018.

If you like our programs, please consider supporting them with a donation. Click HERE to make an online contribution.  We thank you in advance for your generosity.

Scroll down to see our other Monday Night Speaker Programs _________________________________________________________________________

Upper Valley Democrats October Fundraiser, October 23, 2017


Some of the wonderful potluck. Thanks to all.

Our October fundraiser grossed close to $4,800!  (We invite any late-comers to send in a check if they didn’t get the chance. Scroll to end of article for info). Our delicious potluck brought in over 60 people and the wonderful prizes were well received. A huge thank you to all who made this possible!

Senator Martha Hennessey introduces Executive Counselor Andru Volinsky from District 2

Our own Senator Martha Hennessey introduced a very engaging speaker; Executive Counselor Andru Volinsky from district 2. He walked us through some of the issues he faced and focused the second half of his presentation on education. 

New Hampshire pays for education (and all municipal services) through property taxes. The problem is that districts with low property taxes have a very small budget and can’t afford to give their schools the needed funding. The EVP, or “Equalized Valuation per Pupil” represents the property tax income for a given area divided by the number of students for that area.  It is a measure of the fiscal strength of a community, and determines its ability to effectively pay for schools.

Andru Volinsky uses a tall staff to visually show how EVP varies widely throughout the state.

A community with low property values earns fewer taxes and has a lower EVP. This means it is spending less on schools so there will be more students per teacher, fewer “optional” classes such as in art, less support for special education needs, and fewer options overall.  Andru used a tall staff to visually show us how EVP varies widely throughout the state.  The staff depicts the proportionate strength of three communities versus the average (see photo).  The black line represents the average NH community’s EVP as $939,000/pupil.  The red line is Claremont at $400,000 per pupil.  The blue line is Manchester at $653,500.   The green line at the very top represents Portsmouth at $2,300,000 per pupil. 

The over reliance on the local property tax renders our system of school funding grossly unfair and our state is suffering. Not only are we graduating students with a poor education in a tough job market, we are also failing to attract people to the state who want a better education for their children. Education is an important issue in our state as well as nationally, and yet another reason to vote for the party that wants a quality education for everyone; the Democrats. Find the full report at this link.

Raffle basket from “Infuse Me”

A big thank you to our wonderful speaker, Andru Volinsky, to our generous raffle donors, and to everyone who supported the evening. See the rest of the photos taken by our  in-house photographer, Bill Secord,

We are still short of our fundraising goal! If you wish to support our monthly programs and our other initiatives, we gladly accept online contributions through our Act Blue account or checks, payable to the Upper Valley Democrats, to the Upper Valley Democratic Committee, 2 Jones Avenue, West Lebanon, NH 03784. 

___________________________________________________________________________September 25 Monday Night Speaker Program: CIVICS 103 

The facilitator, Karen Liot Hill, a seven-term Lebanon City Councilor and Grafton County treasurer, guides participants through election results for Enfield in Civics 103

On Monday night about 30 + Upper Valley Democrats were guided through an informed analysis of past voter turnout in one of our Upper Valley towns, Enfield. We looked at the number of voters and the number of votes cast during the four most recent Presidential elections (2004 – 2016) compared to votes cast during the past four mid-term elections (2006-2014).

Directed by facilitator Karen Liot Hill, a seven-term Lebanon City Councilor and Grafton County treasurer, we saw that fewer voters turned up at the polls in mid-term elections, but that the trend (pro-Democrat or pro-Republican) stayed the same from mid-term elections to Presidential elections.

Yet mid-term elections are important because American voters elect all U.S. House Representatives in mid-term elections, as well as a third of the U.S. Senate, while in New Hampshire we also elect the State Governor, the Executive Council members, our State Senators and our local Representatives.

We have to get more voters out in mid-term elections, starting now for 2018, because it is a crucial election.

How can we do this?  Identify “drop-off” voters (people who vote in general election but not in mid-term election), reach out to youth who will turn 18 before Mid-term elections, register non-voters (voter registration increases likelihood of voting!), and build the Democratic Party and its reputation locally so that voters will make positive associations and vote all the way down the ballot.

Lebanon Representative Rich Abel gives a recap of what is happening in the House these days.

We also learned that  New Hampshire has same-day voter registration because New Hampshire doesn’t have motor voter (when the MVA provides its patrons the opportunity to apply to register to vote, or update voting information, during a driver’s license or photo identification (ID) card transaction).

Many thanks once again to Karen for an enlightening evening. We look forward with much enthusiasm to the final Civics 104 workshop, Where Do We Go From Here? Building the Bench at the Local Level, on Monday, November 20. Save the Date!

Click HERE for slides from Karen’s presentation.

Photos by Bill Secord. Click HERE for more photos of the event,

If you like our programs, please consider supporting them with a donation. Click HERE to make an online contribution.  We thank you in advance for your generosity.

Scroll down to see other Civics workshops and slides ___________________________________________________________________________July 24 Monday Night Speaker Program: CIVICS 102 

Community building in the beautiful historic Canaan Meetinghouse

On July 24, an attentive and enquiring group of Upper Valley Dems met at the historic Canaan Meetinghouse for the Civics 102 workshop, the second of a four-part series offered by the Upper Valley Democrats.

Karen Liot Hill, Facilitator, Civics 102

The facilitator, Karen Liot Hill, a seven-term Lebanon City Councilor and Grafton County treasurer, walked the audience through the political history of New Hampshire, starting with its birth in 1623. Karen examined the voting history of New Hampshire and why and when it became a swing state. She explained how New Hampshire became the First In The Nation and why this is important in the primaries. She explored “The Pledge” and its impact on budgetary decisions, and finally Karen defined the Free State Project, (, its goal and how it fields candidates for local and state government. Click HERE to see the presentation.

Many thanks to Karen for an illuminating evening. We look forward with much enthusiasm to the Civics 103 workshop, Where Do We Go from Here, Influencing New Hampshire Politics and Policy for a Better Future, on Monday, September 25.  

During the meeting, reference was made to the Free State Project Watch site ( In July, a Free Stater ran in the Grafton primary as a Democrat; Grafton has been identified as a Free Town Project. The candidate lost.  Click to see which elected officials are Free Staters in New Hampshire.

Margaret Campbell, Chair of the Education Committee

Post-Card Project
Our post-card project for this month was focused education and was organized by the chair of our education committee, Margaret Campbell.  She came with sample text and addresses for us to write to the Chairman of the State Board of Education.

The workshop was enhanced, yet again, by a wonderful potluck. Thanks to All!

Photos by Bill Secord

If you like our programs, please consider supporting them with a donations. Click HERE to make an online contribution.  We thank you in advance for your generosity.

June 26th Monday Night Speaker Program: FaceBook and Fake 

Facebook Workshop:  A BIG thanks to Sarah Guggenheimer from NHDP for running our first Facebook workshop before our potluck.We had a good turn out and everyone who participated learned something new. We received valuable feedback and will plan our next workshop with suggestions in mind.

Post Card Project Recap
This month we started our post card project. A table is set aside for writing post cards to elected officials on various issues. We will provide the bullet points on the issues, names and addresses of recipients, and even a script, and you do the writing. Elizabeth Kilmarx will collect the postcards and send them off. On Monday night we collected 18 postcards urging senators to block the ACA repeal.

A BIG thanks to all the pot-luckers. Our panelists certainly appreciated the banquet.  (We promise a picture next time)

Fake News Panel Recap
Monday Night we were treated to a wonderfully informative program on Fake News; The Scourge and what to do about it.

Tom Blinkhorn moderated the panel, introducing the topic with an historic view of fake news in American public discourse.

Alexis Jetter addressed the current situation of fake news, why it is so persuasive, some of the perils, and the positive news that the press is now more aggressive and there are still good sources writing accurate stories.

Mark Williams presented the idea of intersectionality; that we are all interconnected through social categories such as race, class and gender, and acknowledging this grounds the differences among us.

Jim Heffernan focused on what can be done about challenging fake news. He shared a personal story of how he pushed back when he received an email about Sharia Law in Dearborn, Michigan. He hit reply all and sent a copy of the City of Dearborn’s statement denouncing the fake article about the city.

Clearly there was not enough time to fully explore the issue, and by 8 o’clock we regretfully had to close the panel. Definitely a do over.

Click here for the Panelists and their suggested links 

George Sykes gave a legislative recap on what’s happening in Concord, and also spoke about recent Grafton County votes.

____________________________________________________May 22 Monday Night Speaker Program: CIVICS 101 

On May 22, about 40 Upper Valley Dems were treated to a wonderful introduction by Karen Liot Hill on the naissance of New Hampshire governance. The program, Civics 101, explored the interplay of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, designed by the Founders to separate and balance power. Karen walked us through the role of the Executive Council, how bills are passed, at what point the citizenry can impact various bills, and how we, and New Hampshire residents, can make our voices heard through testimony, emails and letters. Thank you Karen. We look forward with much enthusiasm to the Civics 102  program in July. (Click here for presentation slides in PDF.)

At the end of the meeting reference was made to Senate and House maps created by Sean Garnsey for the Networking Action Group. They are based on the outcomes of the 2016 election. Sean is currently in the process of updating the maps and adding descriptions. Here are the links to the current maps: State Senate District Map, State House of Representatives District Map, State House or Representatives District Voting Map

Many of us wanted to know how we could actually track bills on the NH General Court website, Erin Cotton, Operations Director of NHDP, has shared two documents with us that may help: How to Track Legislation and How to Contact Legislators.

Thanks to all for another great potluck!

Photos by Elizabeth Kilmarx

*************************************************************************April 24 Monday Night Speaker Program: Affordable Care Act 

On Monday, April 24,  the Upper Valley Democrats gathered for another productive, engaging Program Meeting at the Upper Valley Senior Center in Lebanon. The focus of the evening was the Affordable Care Act, and we were fortunate to welcome Matthew Houde, as our featured speaker. Matthew discussed the core components of the ACA, what to expect from future repeal and replace efforts, and the potential implications for New Hampshire citizens. He responded to good questions throughout his presentation, and helped our group better understand what’s at stake in the healthcare battle. Matthew’s talk was preceded by a potluck dinner, and followed by updates from the leaders of our Action Groups.

Photos by Sean Garnsey

__________________________________________________________________________March 7 Monday Night Speaker Program: Action Plans

Sue Ford, NHDP Grassroots Chair and Fmr. House Democratic Floor Leader, spoke on Upper Valley Democratic Action Plans at the Kilton Library, Lebanon, March 7, 2017.  Click HERE for more images from the event.

Photo by Bill Secord


Kick off to our Monday Night Speaker Programs! Community Action Planning, January 23, 2017

Great turn out at our Community Action Planning Meeting at AVA, Monday, January 23, 2017. Steve Marchand was our speaker.