By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – The state’s Executive Council will host a public hearing on Gov. Chris Sununu’s nomination of Scott Mason to be executive director of the state Fish and Game Commission on July 30, the first in-person hearing since the pandemic closed the State House in March.
That same day, the council will also host a public hearing on nomination of Lindsey Courtney of Manchester to serve as executive director for the state Office of Professional Licensure and Accreditation.
Mason, a resident of Stratford in the North County, would succeed Glenn Normandeau if approved.
The state’s Fish and Game Commission did not support another term for Normandeau, telling the governor, Normandeau said, that they wanted to “move in a different direction.”
Mason worked to support the controversial Northern Pass transmission project, which was ultimately rejected by the state. Some opponents of that project and others claim that Mason has no experience to run the department.
Abby Evankow of Gorham said in a letter to the Council that she is opposed to Mason’s nomination.
“The NH Fish and Game Department needs an Executive Director with a strong wildlife/habitat background, especially as we face the increasingly complex challenges of climate change.
“A man who ‘strongly opposed’ the establishment of a conservation commission in his own town cannot possibly fulfill the department’s mission to be the ‘Guardian of the state’s fish, wildlife, and marine resources’ and ‘Conserve, manage and protect these resources and their habitats,’” Evankow said.
Sununu’s press release nominating Mason also thanked Normandeau.
“Scott is a lifelong outdoorsman with deep experience for the task at-hand,” Sununu said. “I would like to thank Director Normandeau for his many years of service, and to the Fish and Game Commission for bringing Scott’s nomination to me.”
Mason thanked Sununu “for his confidence in nominating me to be the next Executive Director of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. I have hunted and fished all my life in New Hampshire, and, as a farmer and landowner, I understand the principles behind conserving our natural resources for future generations.”
John Petrofsky said Mason’s record in the community leaves everything to be desired.
“He played a major role in promoting Northern Pass, and will forever be associated with the threats and strong-arming that many experienced when Northern Pass pressured people to sell their land. Mr. Mason would start off from the beginning with a toxic relationship in many parts of the North Country. Democrat or Republican, I question whether there is already too much mistrust between him and the community for him to effectively do the job,” Petrofsky said.
“Finally, it would be one thing if he were nominated for Commissioner of Agriculture, as that is his background. However, besides being an outdoorsman, he appears to lack any of the other necessary qualifications to fill the role,” Petrofsky said.
The public hearing will be held Thursday, July 30 at 10 a.m. for Mason and 1 p.m. for Courtney at the Howard Rec Building, Department of Health and Human Services, 99 Pleasant St., Concord.
This is an opportunity for the public to comment on the governor’s nominations.
Mason runs Northwinds Farm in North Stratford, and is one of three dairy farmer representatives from the Northeast region on the American Farm Bureau Federal Milk Marketing Order Work Group, according to the New Hampshire Farm Bureau.
The governor’s press release related to the nomination is here https://www.governor.nh.gov/news-and-media/governor-chris-sununu-nominate-scott-mason-fish-and-game-executive-director
Courtney has been acting as director of the Board of Licensure and Accreditation for months now.
The governor’s first choice to lead the board, Eddie Edwards, withdrew his candidacy and charged some councilors with “institutional racism” in claiming he did not have the experience to run the office.
Andru Volinsky and Debora Pignatelli, both Democratic Executive Councilors, flatly rejected those assertions of racism.
InDepthNH.org’s Nancy West contributed to this report.