Meet Local Leader Jeanin (Nin) Onos of Gilford

Here on the Stay Work Play blog, we’re celebrating young leaders across the state who have stepped up to participate in the political process! “Meet Local Leader…” is a series highlighting the people under forty who are leading their communities at the local level.

Age:

37

Elected Position Held:

School Board

Occupation and Employer:

VP Retail Collections Officer, Bank of New Hampshire

Number of Years in NH:

11

Favorite Place in NH:

My favorite place in NH has to be Gilford. There is so much to do here. I can leave my house and jog the WOW Trail in Laconia, enjoy a hiking trail or two with my kids and pets or enjoy a day at the lake. The school district is outstanding and I am very proud to be a part of this community.

Describe NH in three words:

Peaceful, Relaxing and Entertaining.

First Year Elected to the Position:

2018

Priorities While Serving:

My current priority to is keep the kids and staff in school during this pandemic safely and constructively. Outside of the pandemic, my priorities are to maintain fiscal responsibility for our district. I have been on the policy committee for four years and find it important for our kids, parents and teachers to have a voice in policies.

Tell us about your “Path to Politics” — what made you decide to get involved?

I started out serving on the Gilford PTA in multiple different positions as the years went on. I originally wanted to be involved in my children’s lives and help in any way I could to benefit their school experience and perhaps relieve any financial burdens and budgetary restrictions on the teachers. From there, a friend told me to run for a position on the School Board. I really had to think about that and what kind of time involvement that would be. I spoke to my husband about it and decided to run. My community really backed me up with the experiences I had already with the PTA.

What barriers did you face running for office? How did you overcome them?

So, funny thing. My husband was listed as a registered voter but for some reason I wasn’t. I had to register, but by the time we figured that out I had to be listed as a write-in. I had to really get my name out there being a write-in. I was fortunate enough to have a good community behind me and support to win the seat.

Also, on a personal level, I am a horrible public speaker. I work on that every day. I also juggle three children, a full-time job, part-time college while I go back for my BA in Business Management and a Minor in Organizational Psychology at Granite State College, and I am also on the Lakes Region Community Services Board. While some may view this as being overcommitted, I have a wonderful support system that helps me balance my time.

What is the most pressing issue facing young people in NH?

College debt and unrealistic expectations of finding a six figure job fresh out of college because you have a degree.

How could NH be made even better for young people?

Honestly, I like NH the way it is. There is plenty to do here. Young people need to spread their wings and experience life. Once they do they will be back.

What advice would you give to another young person interested in getting involved in local politics in NH?

Really think about it. You have to be extremely careful once you are in office with what you say. You have to remember that even when you are not at a meeting or a special event you are still a representative of your community. It is okay to have an opinion on a matter, it is not okay to be demeaning or rude. And, it’s okay to disagree constructively.

How can committees, boards, and the local and state legislatures be more supportive in encouraging more young people to run for office?

I think that we need to do a better job encouraging it in school across the board. You need to plant the seed starting in middle school. As parents we need to have those conversations with our kids as well. I speak to my kids about it and let them in on the process. My daughter wants to run for student body and be a voice for her class. That all stemmed from her having a conversation with me and building on that in the school with her teachers.

Can you recommend a resource for young people that are interested in learning more about politics, policies and bills, and advocacy?

Most committees are public meetings. Go to them, get involved, ask questions.

For fun, tell us something about yourself that others may not know!

I love to renovate houses and bring them back to beautiful conditions. I love to see the potential of what things could be and make a plan to get them there.

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