Colin Van Ostern

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Colin Van Ostern
Colin Van Ostern SNHU 2016 closeup.jpg
Member of the New Hampshire Executive Council
from the 2nd district
In office
January 3, 2013 – January 3, 2017
Preceded byDaniel St. Hilaire
Succeeded byAndru Volinsky
Personal details
Kevin Colin O’Loughlin

(1979-02-14) February 14, 1979 (age 40)
Carlsbad, California, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationGeorge Washington University (BA)
Dartmouth College (MBA)
WebsiteOfficial website

Colin Van Ostern (born Kevin Colin O’Loughlin; February 14, 1979),[1] is an American businessman and politician who served on the New Hampshire Executive Council from 2013 to 2017, where he represented the state's second district. He is a member of the Democratic Party,[2] and was the Democratic nominee for Governor of New Hampshire in 2016.[3] He was a candidate for a two-year term as New Hampshire Secretary of State in the New Hampshire General Court's December 5 election, which he lost to incumbent Bill Gardner.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Van Ostern was born in Carlsbad, California. He moved repeatedly as a young child, arriving in New Hampshire in 2001 in his early twenties.[5] He attended high school at Maggie Walker Governor's School for Government and International Studies in Richmond, Virginia, and college in Washington, D.C. at George Washington University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2000 in International Relations. He received an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire in 2009.[6]

Professional career[edit]

Van Ostern currently works as Vice President of Workforce Solutions[7] at Southern New Hampshire University. He previously helped SNHU launch College for America, a nonprofit school focused on providing a college education to individuals within the work force interested in furthering their education. College for America works directly with students’ employers to ensure that each student can gain their education while continuing their career, usually with little or no debt. Van Ostern joined the school shortly before its launch in 2013.[citation needed]

Previously, he was a business manager at Stonyfield, Inc., where he managed various brands and business lines for the world's largest organic yogurt maker.[8]

In 2004, he founded a business-consulting firm called Washington Street Consulting. As the principal of his consulting firm, Van Ostern advised over 30 nonprofits and small businesses. He has also served as a senior advisor to various elected officials including U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster, and before moving to New Hampshire in 2001.

Political career[edit]

Van Ostern won a seat on the New Hampshire Executive Council in 2012, succeeding former Executive Councilor Daniel St. Hilaire. He was re-elected in 2014.

Van Ostern was the Democratic Party's nominee for Governor of New Hampshire in 2016, winning the primary election by a vote of 52 percent to Steve Marchand's 25% and Mark Connolly's 20 percent, and losing the general election by a vote of 47 percent to Chris Sununu's 49 percent.

Commuter rail[edit]

Van Ostern was first elected to the Executive Council after campaigning on the importance of building passenger rail from Boston to central New Hampshire. The New Hampshire Capitol Corridor rail project was halted by the Executive Council in 2011, but continued in 2013 after Van Ostern was elected. A study focused on the production of the rail system and funded by the state of New Hampshire was completed in 2015, finding that rail from Boston to Manchester would result in a projected 5,600 new permanent jobs and 3,630 additional construction jobs.[9]

Healthcare and reproductive rights[edit]

Van Ostern has been a strong advocate for providing accessible healthcare options for all New Hampshire citizens. In 2014, he voted with a majority 3-2[10] on the Executive Council to enact the New Hampshire Health Protection Plan, which has since expanded Medicaid to over 40,000[11] New Hampshire citizens.

Van Ostern publicly opposed Republican members of the Executive Council when they voted against funding family planning services at New Hampshire's Planned Parenthood health centers in both 2011 and 2015, and in 2015 he was awarded[12] the Champion of Choice award by NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire, the state's largest grassroots organization dedicated solely to reproductive rights.

Ending the 2014–2015 Fairpoint strike[edit]

Van Ostern at a 2016 gubernatorial candidate forum steered by former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. and former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman.

In October 2014, 1,700 workers at Fairpoint Communications in New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont went on strike after the company froze pensions, implemented pay reductions for new employees, and limited health care benefits.[13] By late November, negotiations between the two sides had reached an impasse. On December 23,[14] Van Ostern asked state officials to delay a proposed $13 million contract for state phone and data service with Fairpoint, citing the poor consumer service levels in the wake of the strike. Members of the striking labor union, IBEW, used the contract delay to call on the company to return to negotiations. Negotiations between the company and striking workers resumed on January 4, 2015[15] and the contract was passed unanimously on the Executive Council later that month. The strike was resolved in early February, and was the nation's largest and longest in 2014.[16]

2018 campaign for Secretary of State[edit]

In 2018, Van Ostern was a candidate for New Hampshire Secretary of State.[17] The New Hampshire General Court selects the Secretary of State, and Van Osten's campaign against longtime incumbent Bill Gardner, a nominal Democrat[18] who supports Republican election and voting proposals,[19] was based in part on the Democratic Party gaining control of both the New Hampshire Senate and New Hampshire House of Representatives in the 2018 elections.[17] Gardner won the December 5 legislative election, 209 votes to 205.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Van Ostern lives in Concord, New Hampshire, with his wife, two sons, and their dog.[1]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ "3 Dems, 2 Republicans Elected to Executive Council". Windham Patch, November 7, 2012.
  3. ^ "Mark Connolly planning to run for governor". Union LeaderWMUR. October 19, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
  4. ^ Ramer, Holly (November 27, 2018). "NH secretary of state makes case for 22nd term to lawmakers". Madison, WI: Lee Enterprises. Associated Press.
  5. ^ "Colin Van Ostern found home for him when he moved to NH". Retrieved October 6, 2015.
  6. ^ "Tuck alum Colin Van Ostern announces campaign for N.H. governor". Retrieved January 14, 2016.
  7. ^ "About College for America at SNHU". College For America. Retrieved October 6, 2015.
  8. ^ "Stonyfield stirs up the yogurt market". Retrieved October 6, 2015.
  9. ^ "Initial Capitol Corridor Rail Study Results Show Substantial Economic Impact for New Hampshire". Retrieved October 6, 2015.
  10. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on September 26, 2015. Retrieved September 10, 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Facts prove value of expanded Medicaid". Retrieved October 6, 2015.
  12. ^ "Timeline Photos – NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire – Facebook". Retrieved October 6, 2015.
  13. ^ "Striking FairPoint workers ratify agreement ending 4-month strike". WMUR. February 22, 2015. Retrieved October 6, 2015.
  14. ^ "New Hampshire delays vote on FairPoint bid". Burlington Free Press. December 23, 2014. Retrieved October 6, 2015.
  15. ^ "FairPoint and striking workers resume talks, but won't comment on them – The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram". The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram. Retrieved October 6, 2015.
  16. ^ "FairPoint strike was country's largest, only ongoing strike started in 2014". The Bangor Daily News. Retrieved October 6, 2015.
  17. ^ a b Sider, David (November 25, 2018). "New Hampshire political legend falls prey to Trump effect". Politico. Arlington, VA.
  18. ^ Rogers, Josh (November 28, 2018). "Five Former N.H. Governors Write Letter To Boost Gardner". New Hampshire Public Radio. Concord, NH.
  19. ^ McDermott, Casey (March 7, 2017). "Amid Voter Intimidation Concerns, N.H. Sec. of State Supports GOP's Voting Bill". New Hampshire Public Radio. Concord, NH.
  20. ^ DeWitt, Ethan (December 5, 2018). "Secretary of State Gardner wins re-election bid in wild re-vote". Concord Monitor. Concord, NH.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Maggie Hassan
Democratic nominee for Governor of New Hampshire
Succeeded by
Molly Kelly