MANCHESTER, NH – News was circulating in political circles on Monday that former city councilor and longtime NH State Representative Steve Vaillancourt, R-Manchester, had died. He was 65 years old.
“We are all very saddened by the news, he was a longtime lawmaker and I’m sure he will be greatly missed,” NH GOP Chair Jeanie Forrester said of the news, which was unexpected.
⇒Obituary for John Steven Vaillancourt
Vaillancourt was serving his 10th term in the House, representing District 15 in Hillsborough County, District 8 in Manchester. NHPR’s Paige Sutherland reports that Vaillancourt was found dead Monday morning in his apartment and believed to have suffered from a heart condition.
Mayor Ted Gatsas released the following statement on Vaillancourt’s passing on Monday, evoking Vaillancourt’s passion for the issues:
“Today Manchester mourns the loss of former Ward 8 Councilor and current State Representative Steve Vaillancourt. Steve loved Manchester and was always proud to call Queen City his home. him for his tenacity and ability to cogently articulate his position on the issues he was passionate about. It was an honor to work with Steve Vaillancourt and call him my friend – he will be missed,” said Gatsas.
Samantha Piatt, Chief of Staff to the Mayor, also recalled Vaillancourt’s passion and unique qualities.
“Steve was a wonderful person with a quick wit and a great sense of humor. He was fierce in his conviction on issues he felt strongly about and never wavered,” Piatt said. Vaillancourt’ never just threw in the towel when it came to a cause he believed in; for many legislative sessions he fought to end greyhound racing in New Hampshire and didn’t give up until he was successful and the animals were safe. I think he would appreciate it if we all remember him for his dedication to this particular cause,” he said. she stated.
“Steve had a passion for history and always read something to deepen his knowledge. He knew a lot about a lot of things, but he would tell you he didn’t know enough. He was unique, and those who took the time to befriend him will appreciate that quality in him and understand that’s what made him Steve,” Piatt said.
House Speaker Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, said in a statement Monday, “We will remember Steve as an exceptional speaker and a man who was certainly dedicated to his principles. Rep. Vaillancourt was a valued member of the House Finance Committee where he was a strong advocate for our state’s taxpayers. Today’s news is a shock to all of us. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his brother, Norman.
Vaillancourt was no stranger to controversy during his more than 20 years of public service. — from being accused in 2012 of delivering a sarcastic verbal Nazi salute to Speaker of the House Bill O’Brien, getting him kicked out of the chamber, to shaming MP Annie Kuster, Vaillancourt was as controversial as he was colorful. Although Vaillancourt was seen as a fiscal conservative on most issues, he leaned liberal on social issues, as a strong advocate of same-sex marriage and the legalization of medical marijuana.
He started his career in 1994 as a Democrat and eventually switched to the Libertarian Party in 2000 before aligning himself with the Republican Party in 2006.
During his time as a Manchester Democrat, Vaillancourt shared representative duties with current NH Democratic party chairman Ray Buckley, who over the years has had high-profile run-ins with Vaillancourt. However, on Monday, Buckley offered a conciliatory Tweet, which read, “Condolences to the brother and family of Steve Vaillancourt on his passing today. I am convinced that Steve is with his mother whom he loved very much.