HINSDALE, N.H. -- After 10 years of serving in the New Hampshire State Legislature, State Rep. Bill Butynski has announced he will not run for another term.
A Democrat representing Hinsdale, Chesterfield, Walpole and Westmoreland, Butynski told the Reformer he has decided to step down when the current legislative session ends on Dec. 2. He has served five consecutive two-year terms.
Looking back at his career as a state lawmaker, Butynski said education funding was the main issue that drove him to run for elected office.
"I felt that communities, particularly those that were not wealthy, were not receiving enough fiscal support from the state," he said Tuesday. "It was driving up local property taxes and I've worked on that throughout the years. The current formula is reasonably fair, though it could always be improved."
Butynski, 70, also said he recently put forth a bill -- which passed in the House -- that allows local boards of selectmen to wave interest and penalties on late property taxes. He also has been a staunch advocate for the replacement of the Charles Dana and Anna Hunt Marsh bridges, which link Hinsdale with Brattleboro, Vt. The Charles Dana connects the town with Hinsdale Island, where the Anna Hunt Marsh opens to bring pedestrians and drivers to Brattleboro. JB Mack, the principal planner for the Southwest Region Planning Commission, has said federal highway standards dictate the bridges are too narrow and have insufficient weight limits and vertical clearances. Built in 1920, they are considered "functionally obsolete."
The bridges are used by emergency services and freight trucks, as people in medical distress are often taken to Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, and a lot of cargo is carried across the structures. And officials say both Hinsdale and Brattleboro benefit financially from the thousands of vehicles that use the bridges every day. A proposed $45.7 million project made it onto the draft proposal of N.H. Department of Transportation's 10-year Transportation Improvement Plan and has the support of elected and appointed officials on both sides of the Connecticut River. Butynski has called the project's inclusion on the 10-year plan "a wonderful start," but said the objective now is to keep it there. A project to replace the current bridges was placed on the plan in the 1990s but was eventually dropped.
According to an e-mail from Tim Butterworth, who conducts the press work for the Cheshire County Democrats, Butynski was raised in Hinsdale, and educated in the Hinsdale schools, the Catholic University of America and the University of Vermont. Butynski told the Reformer his professional career was spent working in alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment in both Vermont and Washington, D.C. Butynski said he is happy with his public service and has decided not run for another term so he can address some family matters.
"I truly am grateful for the opportunity that the citizens and voters have given me to serve," he said. "It has been an exciting and stimulating experience."
Butynski, who serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, told the Reformer he will today endorse Michael Abbott, a former teacher, principal and coach at Hinsdale High School who is running for the seat Butynski is vacating. Butynski was with Abbott when the Hinsdale Town Clerk's Office opened the office at 7:30 a.m., and Abbott filed for office. The two then went to Concord, where Abbott watched the end of the session voting on the House and Senate Committee of Conference bills.
According to Butterworth, Abbott moved to Hinsdale in 1970, after graduating from Brown University, to work at Hinsdale High School, where he taught social studies and civics, coached, and became the principal in 1985. He was a member of two New Hampshire Department of Education committees that reviewed the state minimum standards for graduation and developed a framework for a state-mandated economics course. Abbott also served on The Executive Council of New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association from 1986 until 1999 and was president of the NHIAA in 1991.
He also served on the board of the Southwest Regional Planning Commission and helped get the Hinsdale-Brattleboro bridge project back onto the 10-year list.
Butterworth, a former state legislator, said Butynski has done an excellent job for his district.
"I think he's been great. He's been so dedicated," he said. "He really is a hard-working person."
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.