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It's Final: Laughton Resigns State Rep Seat

After taking a day to consider her options, Stacie Laughton has decided it's not her time to serve in Concord.

As tumultuous as the past week has been, it is nothing compared to the soul-searching Stacie Laughton has been doing for most of her life.

On Thursday, she ceremoniously signed her letter of resignation on camera, at the Access Nashua cable access TV station. State Rep. Ken Gidge, a fellow Democrat and friend, was her witness.

It read simply, "I regret to inform you that I am unable to fill the State Representative seat for Hillsborough County District 31 to which I was recently elected."

And then Laughton took about an hour to tell her story.

"I just wanted a chance to defend myself," said Laughton, after the taping.

Following her election in Ward 4 to serve as state rep, Laughton had to answer for her past as a convicted felon.  A story published in the Laconia Daily Sun chronicled a period of Laughton's life when she was still living as a man,  under her given name, Barry C. Laughton Jr.

Laughton is transsexual, meaning she identifies as a female.

The story stirred a call from Republican leadership in Concord for her to resign. Initially, Laughton vowed to not give up. Then, she agreed to resign after speaking with Democratic Party leaders. On Wednesday, she reversed herself on that decision, saying she would wait to see whether, legally, she could hold on to her seat as a state representative.

A request was made to Senior Assistant Attorney General Michael Brown to examine the case, and he determined quickly that the situation was "more complicated" than initially thought. He said he was looking at the language of NH's voting code, specifically the term "final discharge," as it applied to two suspended sentences which Laughton did not have to serve time for.

Brown has not rendered a decision on that yet.

But by Thursday, Laughton just wanted to move past it all. That is when she announced she would make her decision publicly, via Gidge's cable access show political show, "Gidge World," on Access Nashua.

"After I changed my mind and said I wasn't going to resign, I didn't get any calls from within the party. It was the barrage of calls form reporters and all the comments made on the different news sites that got me feeling like it was time to put it to rest.  But I never once believed I'd done anything wrong in this process. I believed – and still do – that I had satisfied the requirements of the corrections department, or I wouldn't have run in the first place," Laughton said.

"I believed that once you finish your probation and parole, you are all done. I really just wanted the chance to get on with my life and serve the people," Laughton said.

She explained that during the time she lived in Laconia, through all her legal troubles, her case was written about in all the newspapers, from local to statewide, and that she naturally assumed people had a general knowledge of her past.

"How do you know what people know?" she said.

Short of wearing a scarlet "C" on her chest, or introducing herself to everyone as "Stacie Laughton, convicted felon," she said she wasn't sure how to present herself to voters; but she says she was always willing to talk about it, if asked.

"I thought as a society we'd moved past that kind of 'Scarlet Letter' mentality," Laughton said. "I do think citizens have a right to know what's in our background when we run for office. I want to be honest about who I am."

At 28, Laughton has never felt more settled – she lived the first 23 years of her life as Barry Laughton Jr., never really comfortable with her male identity.

"I'd really like to forget my teen years – I gave my parents a lot of trouble, and I've apologized to my mother plenty of times for those years. I wasn't an easy teenager to raise," Laughton said.

"But the fact that I'm standing here today, as the person I am, is a credit to my parents. Who knows what would've happened to me, if not for the intervention I had at a young age. I don't know if I'd be alive today," Laughton said.

She said she has struggled with mental illness and spent two years in her teens attending a school in Connecticut. When she returned home to Nashua, life was even more difficult.

In fact, she was arrested twice in Nashua before she was 20 – police confirmed that in 2002 she was charged with domestic violence/criminal mischief, after a heated argument with her father during which she smashed a plate.

And in 2003 she was charged with sexual assault, an incident Laughton explains involved a woman from whom she was renting a rorom.

"Those charges were eventually dropped," Laughton said. "In fact, she still lives in the city, and we see each other from time to time, and we are pleasant. It's as if those years never happened."

She would like to take another shot at running for office, one day, because she feels called to public service.

"I lived for a lot of years in the darkness of who I was. For a lot of years, I believe I was acting out because of not being honest with my self or other people about who I really was, or my gender identification," Laughton said.

"After I got out of prison I felt like it was a new start for me. I began my transformation, from who I had been for all those years, to who I really was," Laughton said. "And ever since that that day, I do something, every day to try to better myself, or help someone else. I am trying to be the best person I can be, and put the past behind me, once and for all.

One Man Wolf Pack December 18, 2012 at 06:19 PM
I am not bashing anyone, and I have not "bashed" you. I am simp[ly asking that you comply with the law, which you are not. I am simply asking for you to be a law abiding citizen in good standing BEFORE holding public office which is exactly what citizens have a right to expect. I do not hold public office, have not held public office nor do I have plans to do so; so my past is exactly that, my past, and of complete irrelevance here. (Nice shift of focus though). If you do not like the public scrutiny that comes with holding office, and holding illegally at that, I would suggest YOU RESIGN AS WARD 4 SELECTMAN as sson as possible. Who know if you oversee another polling place maybe there is legal grounds to vacate that vote due to your standing. Ever consider that your doing your constituancy more harm than good? Or is you the only thing you think about?
One Man Wolf Pack December 24, 2012 at 07:23 PM
State v. Patterson, 145 N.H. 462, 463 (2000) "A sentence has not been completed until the suspension period has expired, signifying that the sentence can no longer be brought forward." We already have law on what constitutes a completed sentence.........Neither of them should be serving as ward 4 selectmen and are in fact breaking the law by hold office right now in such a capacity. Shameful partisan politics that they have not been removed from office and either of them would be allowed to even register to run for office.
One Man Wolf Pack December 24, 2012 at 07:25 PM
State v. Patterson, 145 N.H. 462, 463 (2000) "A sentence has not been completed until the suspension period has expired, signifying that the sentence can no longer be brought forward." We already have law on what constitutes a completed sentence........ RESIGN NOW as Ward 4 selectmen and do not hold office until your sentence is complete.
Richard Stuart July 03, 2014 at 05:13 PM
way to go!
One Man Wolf Pack July 17, 2014 at 09:01 AM
Thank you Richard Stuart........

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