UNH English professor David Watters running for seat in NH Senate
Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
English professor David Watters started working at the University of New Hampshire in 1978 and has been an active member of both the UNH and New Hampshire communities ever since. He has served on the boards of various local organizations and worked with many others, including the New Hampshire Historical Society, the New Hampshire Humanities council, and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.
Four years ago, Watters took his service into the political realm when he ran for and won a seat in the New Hampshire House of Representatives as the representative of Strafford county District 4, which consists of Dover’s first and second wards.
Watters was inspired to participate in community service by his parents. His father served as a doctor for the Veteran’s Association and his mother, a survivor of polio, worked with Easter Seals, an organization that gives aid to those with disabilities.
He said that he was inspired to run for office when he met then candidate Barack Obama at an event in the summer of 2007 and listened to a speech about giving back to the community.
While serving in the House, Watters also has had to balance his job as a professor. He said that his UNH job comes first, and that he puts one hundred percent of his effort into every one of his classes. When he first was thinking of running for office, he spoke to the administration to ensure that it was an acceptable act for a UNH professor and found that he was not the first to take on a second job as a legislator.
Watters teaches a variety of English classes at UNH and said he loves teaching New England or New Hampshire studies. He currently specializes in black New England history, particularly early African-American New Hampshire culture. In addition, Watters said that he enjoys teaching his students about Robert Frost and watching them connect to his poetry.
Watters believes that the New Hampshire House is a “citizen legislature,” and that it is by no means unusual for a member to also be a working person in the state.
Watters is now running for a seat in the state Senate where he said he hopes he can work to “affect important changes.” His primary concern is the education system in the state. In particular, he is worried about funding for public education, which he views as extremely important to maintain the high technology jobs that make up a large portion of the New Hampshire seacoast’s job market.
Though he views education and equality for all as extremely important issues, Watters believes that the economy is going to be the most talked about issue in the coming election.
“People are anxious. There is too much uncertainty about good jobs coming into the area,” he said. “We need to make sure jobs are growing.”
Watters’s philosophy on government is one shared by many in New Hampshire.
“It’s all about hearing people and about how government can help, or get out of the way when necessary,” he said.
So far, Watters has been working on building the infrastructure for his campaign. He has been working evenings and weekends, making phone calls and speaking to as many community groups as possible in an effort to reach his 54,000 possible constituents.
In his last election, Watters was able to knock on all 1,800 doors of his possible voters, a feat that he says may be much more difficult this time.