Council approves Sununu's pick as AG

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Kevin Landrigan, The New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester
·2 min read
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Mar. 24—CONCORD — The Executive Council voted Wednesday to confirm Gov. Chris Sununu's office lawyer as the next attorney general.

John Formella of Portsmouth will replace as AG Gordon MacDonald, who was recently elevated to the New Hampshire Supreme Court as its chief justice.

The vote on Formella was 4-1 with the lone Democrat, Councilor Cinde Warmington of Concord, opposing.

"He has no relevant courtroom experience. He has never handled a trial, written the most basic trial motions or even taken a deposition," said Warmington, who has been a lawyer in the firm of Shaheen and Gordon, led by Bill Shaheen, the husband of U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.

"But the role of the attorney general is no place for an on the job trainee."

Before joining Sununu's office as legal counsel in January 2017, Formella worked for four years in a private law firm on the Seacoast.

"I believe there are many government positions for which attorney Formella is highly qualified. Unfortunately, I do not believe the position of attorney general is one of them," Warmington said. "Accordingly, despite my high personal regard for attorney Formella, I cannot support this nomination."

Councilor Joseph Kenney, R-Wakefield, said Formella will rely on the experience staff in the AG's office to assist him.

"He has the temperament; he has the wherewithal to determine how government works," Kenney said.

Sununu thanked the council for its support.

"John's work ethic is unmatched, and I have no doubt he will make an exceptional attorney general and advance the best interests of Granite Staters," Sununu said.

"I look forward to working with him and the Department of Justice in the years ahead."

Sununu also nominated Rockingham County Attorney Patricia Conway to serve as a superior court judge. If Conway is confirmed, the Rockingham County delegation of New Hampshire House members will pick a replacement to serve until the 2022 election.

Council approves Sununu-picked judges

The council also confirmed two of Sununu's nominees as judges to the circuit court: Patrick Ryan of Swanzey and Ellen Joseph of Merrimack.

Both were approved unanimously.

Sununu announced that two circuit court judges have resigned from the bench: Julie Introcaso, 57, of Manchester and Susan Carbon, 68, of Chichester.

Judges can serve on the bench until mandatory retirement at age 70.

Chris Waszczuk, the state's deputy commissioner of transportation, also announced he was resigning his post.

Prior to becoming the No. 2 executive in the Department of Transportation in 2016, Waszczuk had been director of project development and also had run the turnpike bureau.

"Those are going to be big shoes to fill," Sununu added.

klandrigan@unionleader.com