Nicole LeapleyPrimary Election 2022 WinnerGeneral Election 2022 Winner
Running forState Representative - Hillsborough 22 (Ward 11)
Running as Democrat
I was born in rural Nebraska where I attended public schools and a public land-grant university for college. I will be forever grateful for my public education. It prepared me extremely well for an engaged life and helped me excel in a challenging career and become a leader in my community. I earned my doctorate and spent over 20 years working in higher education.
I’ve lived in a number of places before New Hampshire—Nebraska, Colorado, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and France (I was a French professor for over 15 years). Growing up in a rural place and moving around has taught me to be observant, open-minded, and a good listener, and that there are many different ways to solve challenging problems. It has also made me more aware of my privileges and contributes to my awareness of how society can serve and support all people—and how sometimes we fail to live up to our highest values as Americans. Things don’t have to be the way they are—this society is built on decisions that we have made over time. If they aren’t serving us any longer, we can make new decisions. That’s actually our job as engaged citizens.
I’ve lived in Manchester since 2005. Today I freelance; writing and teaching—for example creating educational content for children’s books and teaching religious school and rock climbing to kids. I’m also a parent of two students in Manchester Public Schools.
Since 2020, I have represented Ward 11 on the Manchester Board of School Committee, serving on the policy committee and chairing the conduct committee. Through my service on the School Board, I’ve connected with a wide range of community voices, gained valuable policy-making experience, and learned how to leverage the tools of policy to serve the diverse needs of students, families, and teachers. But I’ve also come to understand that many of the challenges we face at the city level – not only in education and education funding, but also in housing, public health, transportation, criminal justice, and workforce development – must be addressed at the state level. That’s why I’m running for State Representative.
Manchester Board of School Committee, Ward 11, 2019-present
Member, Policy Committee
Chair, Student Conduct Committee
Current jobFreelance Writer, Teacher, Coach.
St. Anselm College; Manchester, NH
Associate Professor (Tenured), Department of Modern Languages and Literatures; 2012-2018
Assistant Professor, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures; 2005-2012
Washington University; St. Louis, MO
Lecturer, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, 2004-2005
Post-Doctoral Lecturer, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, 2003-2004
University of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, PA
Instructor, College of General Studies, Summer 2001 and 2002
Teaching Assistant, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, 1997-1998, 1999-2001
Université de Paris VII; Paris, France
Lecturer, Department of English, 1998-1999
Current residence7 Valley West Way
Time lived in NH17 years
altMBA. Change, Leadership, and Organizations, 2017.
University of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, PA
Doctor of Philosophy, French Literature, 2003
Master of Arts, French Literature, 2000
University of Nebraska; Lincoln, NE
Bachelor of Arts, French Literature, 1997
Université de Franche-Comté, Centre de Linguistique Appliquée; Besançon, France
Certificate to Teach French as a Foreign Language, 1996
Best way to contact candidateCall me: 267.603.2032
Email me: email@example.com
If elected or re-elected, please describe legislation you expect to sponsor or co-sponsor.
I would sponsor a bill that would address our school funding system. It is all out of whack.
New Hampshire’s school funding system is unfair. For students it produces profound inequities in educational opportunity. For taxpayers it produces enormous inequities in the property taxes.
If you send your child to public school in New Hampshire, your school district may spend as much as $46,875.35 per student per or as little as $11,611.32 per student. You guessed it—that last number is in Manchester. Such a vast difference in spending might make sense if students in the higher-spending district cost more to educate (they receive free or reduced-cost lunch, are English language learners, or have a learning disability).
But as it turns out, the exact opposite is true — making this funding difference all the more inequitable. The Manchester School District spends the least amount per pupil in the state and has the highest needs. For example, 56.9% of Manchester’s kids qualify for free and reduced lunch (the state average is 27.3%). 10.6% of Manchester’s kids are limited English proficient (the state average is 2.1%). More spending doesn’t automatically lead to better student outcomes, but when the dollars are spent wisely and consistently, they can have a profound effect in the classroom. The zip code you are born in should not determine the quality of school you attend.
For taxpayers this system isn’t working either. If you pay property taxes in NH, you may pay as little as $2.27 per $1,000 of value or as much as $20.89 per $1,000. And guess what? The ones who pay the most aren’t necessarily getting the best schools.
Why is this? The State of New Hampshire has failed for decades to fulfill its fundamental, Constitutional responsibility to provide an adequate education to every child within its borders. Instead, it has shifted that responsibility onto local property taxpayers, forcing them to bear $2.3 billion in costs each year, costs that should be met with state revenues. The only way to remedy those injustices is to stop downshifting and to create a system that enables the State to meet its core educational responsibilities. We must shift responsibility for providing an adequate education back to where it belongs. We do not have to collect more taxes for this to happen.
There is a bill currently under consideration that attempts to alleviate some of these disparities– HB 1680. I would support that bill if it is indeed our best option to fix this system.
New Hampshire legislators are citizen legislators and being a legislator is a significant time commitment. How much time per week can you spend on legislative duties while the Senate/House is in session?
Public service is deeply important to me. As a freelancer, my schedule is flexible, and my family is supportive of this work so I will be able to meet the demands of being Ward 11’s state rep.
How do you feel the current divisive political climate in the United States will impact the New Hampshire General Court over the next two years and how would you navigate that divisiveness in your duties?
The political climate is indeed divisive right now and, if we let it, that divisiveness can keep us from getting any work at all done for our constituents. But the reality is that Granite Staters have much more that unites us than that divides us.
We must keep the focus on the needs of our constituents and on the goals we are trying to achieve. Then we can rise above the fray and focus on the work at hand. When we have a clear vision of what we want to accomplish together, we can all pull in the right direction.
An important part of a leader’s job is to help keep that vision front and center when people lose their focus and get distracted. I will do that by constantly asking the right questions—what does this proposal do? who is served by it? At what cost?
There is a lot of distraction these days, but I believe that Granite Staters want to make sure that New Hampshire remains a fantastic place to live for all our kids and grandkids. We know this is a very dynamic environment we are navigating and that it is crucial that we stay focused and do the work, so we are ready to face the future. I will help make sure that we do that.
What is the most significant issue facing Manchester residents at the municipal level and how can you, as a legislator aid the city government on that issue?
The State is constantly downshifting costs to cities—this needs to stop. For an example see my answer to question #1.
In your conversations with voters, what is the most significant issue to them right now? How would you address that if elected or re-elected?
People are disappointed in their leaders right now. Granite Staters value their independence and know that they are quite capable of running their own lives. When they see laws passed that infringe on their freedoms and seem focused more on scoring political points than bettering the lives of Granite Staters, they rightly question their representatives. They are frustrated when laws pass that insert state government where it doesn’t belong—criminalizing and defunding reproductive health care or making illegal free speech in schools doesn’t make life in the Granite State better everyday folks—and it certainly doesn’t make doctors and teachers want to move to our state.
The fact that laws like this were snuck into the budget and not debated on their own merits shows that legislators know these laws lack popular support and that legislators are more interested in advancing radical agendas than addressing the true needs of New Hampshire voters.
In your opinion, what were the five most significant pieces of legislation introduced over the last two years? Please explain what made them significant.
Some of the most troubling legislation introduced over the last two years was inserted into the biennial budget, passed in June 2021—these included the “divisive concepts” law (copy-pasted from an extreme national group) and the first abortion ban in modern New Hampshire history. As their origins indicate, these laws were not created to solve New Hampshire problems.
These laws also indicate very clearly what we can expect from extremists in the state house over the next two years. Granite Staters are strongly in favor of keeping abortion safe and legal. We also value our public schools and trust our teachers, so these laws show how out of touch some legislators are with New Hampshire values and priorities. Another example of that was the passing of the most expansive school voucher program in the country. Advocates said it would cost $400,000 the first year, but it is coming out to over $8 million. Granite Staters value fiscally responsibility—this kind of misrepresentation or error is not acceptable. We expect better from our leaders. We owe it to our kids to adequately fund our public schools across the state—no matter what zip code you live in, your child deserves a great public-school education. If folks want to opt out of their public school and send their child to a private or religious school, that is their choice.
Those three bills weren’t really aligned with what Granite Staters’ needs. Here are two that were more on target: Medicaid now includes dental benefits which will help us keep more Granite Staters healthy. More police officers in small, rural departments will receive Crisis Intervention Training which will help them effectively help people who are experiencing a mental health crisis