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Apr 18, 2017 4:58 PM

Sununu shakes up state Board of Education


CONCORD – Tom Raffio’s served on the New Hampshire Board of Education for a decade, with the last four as its chairman.

But the chief executive officer of Northeast Delta Dental will not be reappointed for another term.

Gov. Chris Sununu announced on Tuesday that “it is good to bring a fresh perspective” to the board and said he’ll nominate former New Hampshire Union Leader editorial writer Drew Cline to fill the vacancy.

In an email to fellow board members, Raffio wrote that the governor “called me today and has decided not to re-nominate me.”

The news comes amid increased friction between the board and new Department of Education commissioner Frank Edelblut, who was nominated by Sununu in January.

Raffio told NH1 News that Sununu called him at 9:57am. He said that the governor’s decision was a “mistake” and a “loss for the state” given his many years of public education service.

He added that with a new commissioner and two new board members “I don’t think it was good for continuity purposes.”

Raffio was appointed to the board in 2007 by Democratic Gov. John Lynch and re-appointed in 2013 by Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, who’s now the state’s freshman U.S. senator. Sununu is the first Republican in the Corner Office in a dozen years.

Raffio’s term expired at the end of January and he’s been a holdover on the board since that time.

Sununu said in a statement that “earlier today, I spoke with Tom Raffio to thank him for his service and expressed my appreciation for his years on the State Board of Education. As with any aspect of state government, it is good to bring a fresh perspective and give others the opportunity to offer their time and talents to our great state.”

Sununu said that Cline will add "outside perspective" to the board. The nomination of Cline will need the approve of the five member Executive Council, where Republicans hold a three to two majority. The two Democrats on the council criticized Sununu’s move.

“Tom Raffio is an effective, trusted champion of schools. He's a moderate businessman. The Governor is making a colossal mistake,” Councilor Chris Pappas of Manchester wrote on Twitter.

And Councilor Andru Volinsky of Concord told NH1 News that he’s “sorely disappointed that Tom Raffio is not being re-appointed,” adding that he’s a “middle of the road, stand-up guy. And that this point in time, with this commissioner, that’s exactly who’s needed to chair the state board.”

Raffio told NH1 News that he chatted with Sununu in January and “I told him I was definitely interested in continuing.”

He pointed out that he’s a registered independent and “I’m very supportive of some the things he’s (the governor) trying to do.”

“I don’t play politics. I just do my job and do what’s best for the children of New Hampshire,” Raffio added.

Raffio said that “when I started in 2007 the meetings were 9am to 12pm every other month. Now they’re monthly and they often go all day.”

He said “it’s a huge time commitment” and “it’s a very time consuming voluntary position.”

“It’s a loss for the state but it’s a gain for my lovely wife,” Raffio added.

Raffio said that depending on when his successor is confirmed by the council, the board’s May 11 meeting may be his last.

But he added that he’ll still have a say in education issues because he’ll continue to chair the Coalition for Business and Education.

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