Sununu's top ed picks get 4-year terms

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Kevin Landrigan, The New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester
·3 min read
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Feb. 17—CONCORD — The Executive Council gave Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut of Wilton and Board of Education Chairman Drew Cline of Bedford new four-year terms Wednesday.

Cinde Warmington of Concord, the lone Democrat on the council, was the only vote against both nominations.

"Local taxpayers who have seen their property taxes rise substantially cannot afford the enormous downshifting that has occurred under Commissioner Edelblut and Chairman Cline," Warmington said.

Both education officials have championed using a federal grant to double public charter schools as well as back a pending bill to grant "freedom scholarships" to parents who send their children to private or religious school or to a different public school than the one in their hometown (SB 20).

Councilor Dave Wheeler, D-Milford, said Edelblut has been more accountable to the council than many of his predecessors.

"Having Frank Edelblut is the best thing to happen for education in a long time," said Wheeler. "He has done a great job and he will continue to do a great job."

Edelblut's salary is $115,661.

Gov. Chris Sununu also continued his effort to bring former Republican congressional candidate Eddie Edwards of Dover into state service, nominating him to be the number two administrator in the Department of Safety.

"Eddie's extensive experience in public safety, law enforcement, and business administration make him the perfect candidate for this critical position in state government," Sununu said in a statement.

"I would like to thank Eddie for agreeing to put his name forward to serve, and I am looking forward to the Executive Council giving this exemplary nominee fair and impartial consideration."

If confirmed, Edwards would replace the retired Perry Plummer as assistant commissioner.

Last summer, Plummer returned to state government temporarily to manage the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Democratic-led council rejected Edwards last year as Sununu's previous pick to run the state's professional licensing bureau.

Sununu had branded the vote as "partisan." It was the second Black nominee for a state post Sununu had made that the council turned down.

Edwards had served as the police chief in South Hampton and after that as the head of law enforcement with the State Liquor Commission.

He lodged a human rights commission complaint and received a $160,000 financial settlement with the state after charging his superiors there with a "pervasive" pattern of racist statements against him.

The council also voted to schedule a special election to fill a vacancy in the New Hampshire House of Representatives after first-term Rep. Samantha Fox, D-Bow, resigned her seat.

The towns of Dunbarton and Bow will vote to fill the seat at a primary April 20 and a general election June 8.

The filing period runs from next Monday through Friday.

If only one Democrat and one Republican choose to run, the election will be in April.

Sununu offered well wishes to Wheeler, who attended the meeting from his Catholic Medical Center bed in Manchester where he was recovering after heart bypass surgery.

"I hope you are feeling better," Sununu said. "I know it's been a tough week for you."

klandrigan@unionleader.com