It's no secret that Andrew Hosmer is a Democrat. He was active in party politics long before he was elected mayor of Laconia, and his position gives him standing to comment on a variety of public policy matters. But an offer we received this week went too far.
“I wanted to quickly reach out about the possibility of publishing an op-ed from Mayor Hosmer, focused on the economic impacts of the Trump Administration in the context of the Republican National Convention," wrote Will Rasky, the “Rapid Response Director” for the New Hampshire Democratic Party. “Please let me know if this may be of interest and I will be sure you get the language tonight.”
To translate: we had the opportunity to publish something with Mayor Andrew Hosmer's name on it that would have been written by political operatives at the state Democratic Party.
“Can I ask why this submission is not of interest?” Rasky queried.
The editor offered up two reasons: “It's obvious political opportunism and the mayor's office is supposed to be nonpartisan.”
While many Laconia voters might have recognized Hosmer's name on the mayoral ballot from his days as a Democratic state senator, there was no “D” next to his name. Voters in the city made a conscious decision almost 30 years ago to remove such party distinctions from the mayoral and council races. When the mayor allows his position to be used for such nakedly political hacktivism, he does a disservice to the office and to his constituents who may not share his partisan views.
We ask him to stop treating his office as if it were just another partisan stepping stone. If he wants to trade on his ties to the state Democratic Party, he is free to do it as Andrew Hosmer, private citizen, but he should keep the mayor's office out of it.
And while we're on the subject of the mayor's office, we'll use this opportunity to remind the mayor and council that voters are still in the dark about who funded the candidates in the last mayor's race, and how much was spent.
While some cities around the state require such donations to be reported, Laconia does not, so there's no transparency and no accountability to the public.
The mayor and council no doubt like it that way, given their track record of treating the public like mushrooms – keeping them in the dark on important matters, but giving them a good soaking when they need money.
No doubt some council members will take issue with that characterization, and that's fine. But if they want to prove us wrong they should let their actions speak for themselves by sponsoring and passing an ordinance to require full disclosure of campaign contributions in city elections.
Anything less is just talk.