We’re proud of the many SEA/SEIU Local 1984 member candidates for state office this fall. In the next two weeks, we’ll feature some who are facing primary challenges in the Sept. 13 statewide primary.
Tom Dawson, of Laconia, is a former state employee and member of SEA/SEIU Local 1984 who’s seeking his first term in office. Dawson worked for many years at Lakes Region Community College, then known as Laconia College, and also served the state as fire marshal.
This is Dawson’s second state House bid, and he’s facing a primary in Belknap County House District 3. Dawson served his community in Laconia on the school board and also helped to develop the fire protection program that’s still in place at Lakes Region Community College.
“They had a small fire science program with about 25 students, and that wasn’t going very well, so they hired a full-time person — me,” Dawson said. “I taught in the program and administered, then a year or two later they were looking for a person to run the evening division at the college.”
Meanwhile, the fire protection program he helped develop continued to grow. He left after seven years to get his doctorate from Oklahoma State University and went on to work for the Houston Fire Department, managing its budget. He returned to New Hampshire in 1984 to take the position of state fire marshal.
“I did that for two years, then went out on my own consulting,” Dawson said. “When the economy dipped, I found myself in need of work and there was a teaching job open at the college. I applied and ended up finishing my career in the program I’d developed back in the 1970s. That was probably the most enjoyable job I’ve had.”
Dawson said he’s been a lifelong Democrat, but he never ran for anything higher than city office until 2014. For him, the 2012 presidential campaign was the catalyst.
“That’s where it started and I got kind of hooked,” Dawson said.
In that first bid for state office in 2014, he ran for state representative and lost.
“It was an in-between year, so I probably didn’t have much of a chance,” he said. “There are no Democrats in the House from Belknap County right now.”
If elected, Dawson pointed to insufficient revenue as a serious problem facing the state.
The state’s revenue problem, he said, “hurts education and the poor, things that shouldn’t be hurt, but aren’t loud enough or strong enough to get the funding they need.”
On the campaign trail, Dawson said a big key for him is just making sure people know who he is.
“Simply put, people have to know you and know who you are if they’re going to vote for you,” he said. “I’m spending my time getting out there in my 1916 Cadillac, which is sort of the centerpiece of my campaign. If you see the old Cadillac, you know it’s me. I’ve got a sign on the back.”
Dawson, a longtime SEA/SEIU Local 1984 member, said there are forces at work trying to destroy unions, and the middle class is suffering because of it.
“I think unions are the key to restoring the balance of wealth and power,” he said. “Unions are a must — they have to not only survive, but they have to come back.”
You can see our complete list of endorsed candidates at www.seiu1984.org/2016-endorsements.