Why I’m Running

I was brought up to believe in hard work, integrity, and service. These are the fundamental values in my life. The values handed down to me from my parents. The values we hope to instill in our children. They’re the core foundational values that have always defined New Hampshire and are the reason I’m running for Executive Council.

joe pace childhood family photo

I was born in Portsmouth, a fifth-generation seacoast native. My father served in the US Navy before becoming a police officer and then starting his own successful tree care company, while my mother stayed home and raised me and my older brother. Smart and hardworking, my folks never had the chance to go to college, but like so many New Hampshire families, they made sacrifices so that their children would have every opportunity in life. For me, those opportunities included attending great public schools in Stratham and Exeter. When I graduated high school in 1993 the State of New Hampshire invested in me with a full academic scholarship to UNH. I studied political science and history and served as Student Body President before earning my degree in 1997. I promised to myself that I would always find a way to serve the community that had taken a chance on a working class kid from Stratham.

I’ve tried to honor that promise in both my professional and political life. Returning to my alma mater, I helped build Justiceworks, the criminal justice research unit at UNH that works with law enforcement, corrections, and emergency response to improve the quality of service for New Hampshire citizens. I spent years at Citizens Bank as a business banking relationship manager, working with entrepreneurs throughout New Hampshire to create jobs and drive our innovative economy. That experience led UNH to call me back to Durham to help lead the university’s corporate giving program, where I worked with our business community to invest in the next generation of New Hampshire workers.

All the while, I retained my desire to serve the communities I called home. I served three terms on the Exeter Board of Selectmen, working over those nine years with dedicated professional staff and civic-minded volunteers to balance budgets, negotiate labor contracts, and make the tough decisions about shared priorities. One of my earliest political mentors, legendary executive councilor Ray Burton, once told me that the best elected officials never forget that they’re servants of the public and always put people first. With that in mind, I understood that representing my friends and neighbors was a sacred trust, one that I tried to honor by keeping an open ear, an open mind, and an open heart. So while I learned about water and sewer infrastructure, about fire department response times, and about historic district management, I also learned that governing is equal parts competence and compassion.

My family is a militJoe and Sarah Paceary family. We left New Hampshire in 2010 while my wife pursued her career as an Army physician. Her story is a lot like my own, and a lot like that of many New Hampshire families. Another public school kid, and the first in her family to graduate from college, Sarah attended Tufts University on an academic scholarship. She then earned her medical degree from Boston University, having our two boys between semesters. For the next eight years she served in the United States Army, attaining the rank of major. My wife is the smartest, toughest, and hardest-working person I know, and she inspires me every day.

Sarah Pace in Afghanistan

While Sarah completed her residency at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, I worked as Director of Development at a private school in Maryland, raising money to make it possible for children with learning differences to attend a school where they could thrive. I coached sports and taught history and was constantly reminded that if we invest in our kids, if we give them all a chance, the return on that investment will be limitless. When my wife was posted to Fort Lewis in Washington State, we lived in the close military community of DuPont. While there, Sarah was sent to Afghanistan as a medical officer and I became a full-time dad. I could never have done it without our neighbors and friends, many of whom were military families who understood the sacrifice of repeated deployments and the cost of service.

We’re back now, in the only place I’ve truly considered home. Here in New Hampshire, our family has the opportunities our parents sacrificed for. Our kids attend safe and excellent public schools. There’s nowhere better than New Hampshire to raise a family and build a life. We’re enormously fortunate.

I’m running for Executive Council to help preserve and protect that good fortune for our families who have achieved it, and to extend it to those still working and sacrificing for their opportunities. I’m running because I believe in building our communities with smart investments in entrepreneurs and the shared prosperity of a small business economy. I believe in a firm and lasting commitment to our public schools and our outstanding educators.  I believe in access to quality health care for all of our people and a meaningful response to the brutal crisis of addiction. I believe that at the local and state level we can fulfill the promise of effective, efficient, and equitable government that remembers Ray Burton’s lesson and puts people first. I believe in New Hampshire.

Joe Pace with family