He listed some specific things he would seek to do if elected.
One is investing more in developing small clean and renewable energy sources. Van Ostern noted that he voted to approve a $4 million bond for the Jericho Power LLC wind project when it came before the executive council in 2014 even though there was opposition to the proposal. While small projects like Jericho Power may not be big job producers, he said some do spur the development of small companies. Van Ostern said the property tax or payment in lieu of taxes revenues can be considerable for the host community. He said renewable energy sources also help combat climate change.
Van Ostern said he cast the deciding vote on the executive council to expand Medicaid so that close to 50,000 New Hampshire residents that did not have health care coverage now do. Of that number, almost 2,000 are Coos County residents. Not only the expansion allow more people to have health care coverage, but also it helps local hospitals remain viable by reducing the amount of uncompensated care they deliver.
“That has helped the North Country more than any other part of the state,” he said, of the expansion.
He said the program will be up for reauthorization during the next governor’s term and it is important to have a governor in office that will support it.
As n executive councilor, Van Ostern also worked to restore funding to Planned Parenthood for birth control and cancer screenings and supports continuing to support the organization.
As someone who has struggled with college debt, Van Ostern said he is committed to bringing down the cost of a college education in the state university and community college systems. He noted that New Hampshire graduates have the highest level of student debt in the country. As a result, many young adults are forced to leave the state to find better paying jobs because they need to service their college debt. Others, he said, are delaying buying a house or having children.
Van Ostern said he helped launch College for America at Southern N.H. University, a non-profit fully accredited institution that partners with employers to provide an affordable education for working adults. He said he would work more closely with employers on such ventures and also broaden the partnership between the community college system and the university system.
Another economic initiative he would push is increasing access to broadband; Van Ostern said one out of three people in the state do not have access to broadband. Access to the digital highway, he said, is an important component of the state’s infrastructure.
While working to create jobs and improve the state’s economy, Van Ostern said we also have to recognize and protect the special places. He said for many years he has gone hunting in the Lake Umbagog area and knows the beauty of the region. He said he does not support Northern Pass as currently proposed but is open minded should the proposal be changed to bury the entire line.
Raised largely by a single mom, Van Ostern had lived in 17 places when he moved to New Hampshire in his twenties with a degree in international affairs with a concentration in national security policy from George Washington University. He calls it the first place he felt at home. He worked as Jeanne Shaheen’s communications director during her 2002 U.S. Senate run and in a similar positions for John Edwards 2004 presidential run, the Kerry Edwards ticket in 2004, and Ann Kuster’s successful run for U.S. representative in 2010.
Van Ostern moved to Hanover in 2007 when his girlfriend Kristyn McLeod enrolled in the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. He worked as associate director of public relations for the Tuck's School and then decided to go for a business degree himself. After college, he worked for Stoneyfield yogurt for two years before moving to College for America.
Along the way, he married McLeod, who grew up in New Hampshire with both parents now living in Franconia, and the couple has two children. Van Ostern has served on the executive council since 2013.
The primary is Tuesday, Sept. 13.