Probably the most bizarre situation in the ski industry that has unfolded since the Northeast Kingdom’s EB-5 scandal was the political battle for the future of Gunstock Mountain Resort. After unveiling massive expansion plans last year, it became evident how fraught the situation had become between the ski resorts leadership team and the Gunstock Area Commission, which oversees the ski resort.
Members of the Commission are voted in by the Belknap County Delegation, who are state legislators elected by voters in the county. In spite of record profits at Gunstock, the Commission and Delegation set up an audit to look out for reckless spending and demonize the ski resort’s leadership team. Gunstocks fans feared that the Delegation’s intentions were to privately lease the mountain to a company like Vail Resorts.
What ensued was chaos. The entire Gunstock leadership team quit, with many other employees leaving the ski resort as well. This led to the mountain being closed for summer operations for over a week. In order for them to return, they demanded that two Commission members resign so the mountain could return to a less contentious state.
Commissioner Peter Ness resigned first, and Dr. David Strang followed, but not without some controversy. Dr. David Strang said he would resign as a member of the Commission, but after the Delegation removed him and appointed experienced businesswoman Denise Conroy, Strang now claims that he didn’t resign. According to the Laconia Daily Sun, he is currently suing the Commission to become a member of it again. For all this drama, the members of the Belknap County delegation paid the political price.
On Tuesday, New Hampshire held its primaries for federal, state, and locally elected positions. The following results were reported by WMUR: Norm Silber, a state representative who was one of the main reasons for the Gunstock situation, received less than 8% of the vote in his district. Silber has been a proponent of privatizing Gunstock, and raised some eyebrows when he claimed that an outsider group trying to interfere with the oversight of Gunstock was being funded by George Soros. Mike Sylvia, a Free Stater who wants New Hampshire to secede from the Union, only got around a third of the vote in his district. Sylvia also falsely accused the Gunstock GM Tom Day of giving an illegal contribution to Governor Chris Sununu. Neither candidate will represent their party for the general elections this November.
Thanks to the nonpartisan political group Citizens for Belknap, voters were able to defeat many of the state representatives that nearly led Gunstock to complete collapse before the start of preparations for winter operations. They also were able to take down other representatives who helped create the Gunstock collapse, which included Gregg Hough, Glen Aldrich, and Dawn Johnson. Citizens For Belknap’s official statement on the results is below.
Some of the representatives that they aimed on voting out, such as Peter Varney, Paul Terry, and Barbara Comtois, advanced to the general election. They are now shifting their focus towards defeating the remaining bad eggs in the general election on November 8th, and Gunstock is getting ready for the 2022-23 season.