2017 Municipal Election Voters Guide for Manchester

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MANCHESTER, NH — Tuesday is Election Day. No excuses, just vote! Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

There will be two ballot questions to answer, one on whether Keno should be allowed in Manchester bars/eateries and also which city flag you prefer, the current one or one of three new iconic designs:


Editor’s Note: We circulated a questionnaire to all candidates whose information was publicly available. Below are the responses we received. Where no responses were available, we included that candidate’s video statement recorded by Manchester Public TV in lieu of the questionnaire.


CANDIDATES FOR MAYOR

We asked each campaign to submit a statement rather than rehashing their platforms on the issues. You can go to their individual websites to see each candidate’s plan.


Ted Gatsas

Website: Ted Gatsas for Mayor

Facebook: Ted Gatsas for Mayor

 

 

 


Joyce Craig

Age: 50

Website: JoyceCraig.org

Facebook: Joyce Craig for Manchester

Joyce graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in business administration. After graduating, she moved to Boston and worked for the advertising agency Hill Holiday and then for Cynthia Fisher’s ViaCord in Boston. ViaCord is a cord blood stem banking company. Joyce is currently a self-employed property manager. 
 
Statement:

“I’ve talked with residents in every ward across the city – and I consistently hear that it’s time for a change. We need better schools. Safer neighborhoods. Smarter use of our tax dollars. More than ever, Manchester needs a leader who has the vision and energy to make the most of our city’s opportunities, while being honest about the challenges we still face. I have released detailed plans about how we can build a better Manchester. You can my plans at joycecraig.org/plans. I ask for your vote on Tuesday, November 7th because we need change at City Hall to build a stronger Manchester.

 


WARD BY WARD

CANDIDATES FOR ALDERMAN and SCHOOL COMMITTEE


WARD 1 ALDERMAN

Christopher Stewart

Age: 40

Occupation: Small Business Owner

Q: What best qualifies you (experience, background) to hold this office and represent the residents of your ward?

I have a proven track record of working collaboratively on policies that make smart, financially responsible investments in our future.

I am a father, husband, homeowner and small business owner. I am a founding member of Our Kids New Hampshire, a bipartisan committee of civic and community leaders committed o tackling New Hampshire’s growing opportunity gap. I also served as the Republican co-chair of the Save the Children Action Networks “Don’t Wait, Educate” campaign, and was twice elected to the city of Manchester’s Board of School Committee in Ward 3.

Q: How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically to your ward?

Constituents will be able to reach me 7 days a week, 365 days a year by cell phone or email. I will also host regular monthly constituent meetings at Webster School to answer constituent questions face to face.

Q: What is your position on the city’s Tax Cap?

I do not support a tax cap override to fund salary increases for city and school district employees under the current system. We have some outstanding, hardworking public servants in this city but Yager-Decker, the salary formula for city pay developed almost two decades ago that provides automatic pay increases just for showing up to work, not based on merit, is unsustainable. It has crippled the budget and finances of our city. As alderman, I will work with all sides, including with the unions, to bring a long-term solution to this issue once and for all.

Q: How can the BOA work more seamlessly with the Board of School Committee going forward?

I was twice elected to the Manchester Board of School Committee to represent Ward 3 so I have a good understanding of the way that the BOA and the Board of School Committee interact, and how the two Boards can better communicate. As alderman for Ward 1, I will work collaboratively and openly with all board members to bring real, meaningful and positive change to our schools. I have built relationships with other board members who share the same goals, and together, I am confident we can achieve them.

Q: What is your position on key votes in which a board member may have a conflict of interest – in particular, in reference to the recent vote in which board members had family members who were part of the union which had a contract up for approval? Under what circumstances would you recuse yourself from a vote?

I do not have any family members who work for the city of Manchester. I believe that the Board of Mayor and Aldermen has become too political, too beholden to special interests and too nasty. Whether it’s aldermen who vote to support contracts that directly benefit their family members or day jobs, an alderman who refuses to resign after being arrested for tax evasion or the general nastiness that plagues every meeting of the board, it is holding our city back. I will never vote on a contract or policy that financially benefits myself or another family member.

Q: What are the top three priorities in your ward that you would advocate for, if elected?

I believe the top three priorities of Ward 1 are improving our schools, public safety, and continuing to address the opioid crisis.

Q: What do you view as the top three priorities for the city in the coming years and how will you advocate for addressing them?

I believe that the top three priorities of the city in the coming years are improving our schools, public safety, and continuing to address the opioid crisis. I have a proven track record of working collaboratively on policies that make smart, financially responsible investments in our future, which I will continue to do as alderman.

Q: How would you propose the city address the opioid crisis and related expense to the city incurred by out-of-state clients using Safe Station?

While Manchester has made progress on the opioid fight in the last several years we still have much work to do. I support a community first approach to combating this epidemic and as Alderman I will work with our police, fire and health professionals to ensure that we are doing everything we can to put a stop to this terrible and heartbreaking problem. I also support Manchester’s recent lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors seeking payback for the cost we’ve incurred because of the drug crisis.

Q: How would you propose the city address panhandling, given the recent federal court ruling on the existing ordinance, deemed unconstitutional?

Manchester is a beautiful city, but too often that beauty is hidden under trash and graffiti. This isn’t fair to our residents or our businesses. As Alderman, I will work to make our parks and streets cleaner, reduce graffiti and stop aggressive panhandling by supporting public education campaigns to discourage donations and by ensuring that we continue to have adequate social services to take care of the neediest in our community.

Q: What is your vision for the immediate and long-term future of the city that would do the most to improve quality of life for residents?

We need to improve our schools to attract new families and new businesses to Manchester. As Alderman, I will work collaboratively to pass school budgets that put our focus back where it belongs – on increasing student achievement, supporting our teachers and respecting the rights of parents. Simply put, I am committed to seeing the Manchester School District transformed into the top school district in the entire state of New Hampshire.

Q: How would you suggest the city be more welcoming to young families and businesses?

Better schools. Better schools. Better schools.


WARD 1 ALDERMAN (INCUMBENT)

Kevin Cavanaugh

 


WARD 1 SCHOOL COMMITTEE (INCUMBENT)

Sarah Ambrogi

Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically, to your ward?

As I have done for the last 8 years, I am always available to constituents by phone or email. I always return phone calls and email promptly, and make a point always to follow up on concerns that are brought to my attention.

Q. What do you consider the greatest strength of Manchester School District?

Without question, the greatest strength of the district is our people – dedicated and talented staff, innovative and engaged administrators, and a student body embodying enormous potential for the future of our city.

Q. What is the one area in need of most improvement within the school district?

The school district has a number of challenges, but I would say that the most important issue is that we need to more fully address the achievement gap and implement strategies district-wide that have proven effective at helping students reach their potential.

Q. How would you rate Superintendent Bolgen Vargas after his first year as superintendent, and why?

I feel the superintendent has made a very good start. His approach to the budget process this year proved highly effective, and his outreach to the business community and other stakeholders has been impressive. As he settles in to the job, I am hopeful we can really begin to gain some traction in making needed changes in the district.

Q. What is your position on redistricting, and what ideas will you bring to the conversation if elected?

My position is that redistricting is a difficult but necessary part of maintaining good standards of education across the district. I would like to see the school board accept the superintendent’s recommendations for redistricting once the facilities study is complete, so that we can make sure we have room for all programs we wish to maintain, start or grow, and that we can keep our class sizes consistent across the district. I think the time for open ended conversation has passed and we need to move forward and allow the superintendent to make his best recommendation as our lead educational expert int he city.

Q. What is your position on how the school currently handles special education and students who are bussed out of district for services? Is there another way you’d like to see the district handle this area of need to reduce spending and improve outcomes for students?

We are a very large district with a high number of students in need of services. I believe that the people who have been responsible for making decisions about how those services are delivered have done the best they can with the resources they have had. I do believe there is an opportunity to review our policies and procedures to determine if services can be provided in a more efficient manner, but it is critical that every student in need of services receives those services. In terms of students with out of district placements, those placements will continue to be necessary until we are able within the district to provide the services needed by those students, which would require expanding our special education programming beyond its current limits.

Q. What fresh ideas do you have to elevate Manchester School District’s perception outside of Manchester?

I do believe there have been some positive moments, and perhaps a shift in perception, over the last couple of years. It is critical that we take full advantage of opportunities such as the Barr Foundation grant so that we do not lose the chance to raise the profile of a school such as West, and the chance to truly partner with the business community. I also believe there is opportunity to expand some of our successful programs from where they have started, in one particular school, to the rest of the district. I believe that when we really begin to celebrate the impact of best practices across the district, student achievement will begin to improve, and the perception will shift.

Q. What is your opinion of the district’s current math curriculum?

Our math curriculum needs review and district wide coordination. Our aims are well documented in the Manchester Academic Standards, but we have not made a coordinated effort to establish district wide materials (text books or other alternatives such as online materials) that support these aims. In addition, the curriculum needs review because of the state wide testing results which show we are falling far short of state averages. Overall, a more coordinated effort is needed, with a focus on improving student achievement.

Q. Should Manchester initiate a gifted and talented curriculum?

This would probably be a good idea, however I believe we can do much within our current structure to encourage our high achieving students. What we really need to do is to identify our high achieving students and make sure that they have the opportunity to move forward with their learning at their own pace. In particular, in high school, Extended Learning Opportunities already offers a mechanism by which students can take learning into their own hands. We can do much more with this without hiring a single new person or spending an extra dollar.

Q. How should the district improve outreach to all students prior to graduation to make sure that they are aware of options including tech school, internships, college prep and for-credit courses, community college, AmeriCorps, and other ways to reduce their post-high school debt while improving their occupational outcomes?

I have for a long time been quite concerned about the guidance our high school students receive. One of the problems is the sheer case load we expect our high school guidance counselors to carry – they simply do not have time to work closely with each student assigned to them. Secondly, though, we are in need of a district wide coordinated guidance program that will begin much earlier (as early as 6th grade) to work with students to begin to identify their strengths and interests. There are online programs such as Naviance which would allow students to begin to self guide themselves toward their best post high school options. I also feel that if we had the resources to have one more guidance counselor in each building whose sole purpose was post high school guidance, it would improve our overall guidance services greatly.


WARD 1 SCHOOL COMMITTEE

Joseph Lachance

Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically, to your ward?

I took pride in my constituent work done as a NH State Representative while serving Ward 1. I am always available by phone, email, and face to face meetings at our school functions. I will remain open and willing to assist any family in Ward1 with school related issues if elected.

Q. What do you consider the greatest strength of Manchester School District?

The teachers in Manchester are great and saw this first hand when I taught at Memorial High School.  They are the core strength of the district and are dedicated to educating our students.

Q. What is the one area in need of most improvement within the school district?

Transparency by the Board of School Committee and better communication with stakeholders at all levels.  The current board is dysfunctional and petty politics appear to be more important than spending board meetings focused on the students.  Without wholesale change of members of this board and, we will continue to go down the same path once again.  

Q. How would you rate Superintendent Bolgen Vargas after his first year as superintendent, and why?

I think he is doing a great job.  He is not afraid to make tough decisions and willing to communicate honestly and openly about MSD issues to the board and public.  

Q. What is your position on redistricting, and what ideas will you bring to the conversation if elected?

I am for redistricting the entire city to better utilize space and lower classroom sizes. The city and student population has changed requiring us to make bold decisions that make sense to both the students and taxpayer.

Q. What is your position on how the school currently handles special education and students who are bussed out of district for services? Is there another way you’d like to see the district handle this area of need to reduce spending and improve outcomes for students?

I want to keep the special education students in the district as much as possible.  I am aware there are times it makes sense for sending a student elsewhere for a whole host of reasons. However, with the right plan, keeping students here it would benefit all if done cost effectively.

Q. What fresh ideas do you have to elevate Manchester School District’s perception outside of Manchester?

New Board of School Committee is needed, period.  Watching the meetings has become both a comedy and soap opera at the same time. It’s embarrassing and frankly, no wonder why we get the bad reputation.  I served on a very functional body as a State Representative on the Ways and Means Committee making tough decisions with the other side professionally.  I strive for the same on this board if elected.

Q. What is your opinion of the district’s current math curriculum?

We are still using old books and no final curriculum district wide and is unacceptable.  The money must be found within the budget to fix this problem or our students will continue to slide in math with out proper materials for the classroom.  Maybe if we eliminated board member health and dental insurance, the money saved could buy the curriculum we so desperately need?  We have scarce resources and every penny counts. I want those pennies to go directly to the classroom.

Q. Should Manchester initiate a gifted and talented curriculum?

I think that is a great idea. Once we redistrict and consolidate some administrative functions and find savings the discussion should happen.  We first need basic math books and a curriculum in place before we expand.

Q. How should the district improve outreach to all students prior to graduation to make sure that they are aware of options including tech school, internships, college prep and for-credit courses, community college, AmeriCorps, and other ways to reduce their post-high school debt while improving their occupational outcomes?

I believe we need to offer more life skills classes.  You know, not everyone is going to go to college and they are lacking basic life Skills when they leave high school.  Communication via the guidance counselors, teacher, in conjunction with additional life skills classes would get the message out better


WARD 2 ALDERMAN 

Will Stewart

Manchester Public Television

Will Stewart for Alderman / Ward 2

WARD 2 ALDERMAN

Bob O’Sullivan

Manchester Public Television

Bob O’Sullivan for Alderman / Ward 2


WARD 2 SCHOOL COMMITTEE (INCUMBENT)

Debra Gagnon Langton (incumbent)

Manchester Public Television

WARD 2 SCHOOL COMMITTEE

David Scannell

Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically, to your ward?

I will hold monthly meetings at one of the schools in my district with anyone — teachers, parents, students — who wishes to attend.  I will meet on a rotating basis with organizations such as the PTOs, the booster clubs, student governments, etc.  I will repurpose my Facebook page as a source of information about the schools in ward 2, and I will hold coffee hours once a month at either Blake’s or Dunkin’ Donuts (both just over the line in ward 1) for anyone who wants to chat about school issues.  I will also maintain open communications via phone, text, and e-mail.  Public access TV and radio are also possibilities.  Here is what I will not do: I will not use social media to criticize fellow board members.  The only mentions I will make on social media of fellow board members will be informational in nature or laudatory in some way.  I think it would be great if all school board members took a similar pledge.

Q. What do you consider the greatest strength of Manchester School District?

 The people – teachers, administrators, parents, and students – are the schools’ greatest strengths.  The school board needs to do more to empower and support this human capital.
 
Q. What is the one area in need of most improvement within the school district?
 
The district needs to do more to ensure that its schools are meeting the individualized needs of each student.  The Parker-Varney experiment that allows a student to progress at his or her own pace needs to be replicated in more schools.  A competency-based system allows kids to progress at their own pace.  Manchester has done lots of work to establish such a system, but we need to maximize its implications.
 
Q. How would you rate Superintendent Bolgen Vargas after his first year as superintendent, and why?
 
I applaud the superintendent for bringing new ideas and a new perspective to Manchester, and I hope to work with him on a series of new initiatives in the coming years.  I am concerned about the selection process that brought him to Manchester.  Manchester citizens deserved to have more than one candidate from which to choose.
 
Q. What is your position on redistricting, and what ideas will you bring to the conversation if elected?
 
For any redistricting proposal to earn my vote, it will have to address issues of population imbalance. (Some schools are overcrowded, and others have lots of space.)  It will have to be respectful of educational imperatives.  If our educational product is compromised for the sake of redrawing lines, I will vote against such a proposal.  Any redistricting proposal will also have to facilitate innovation.  As we redraw lines, let’s “redraw” programs, too.
 
Q. What is your position on how the school currently handles special education and students who are bussed out of district for services? Is there another way you’d like to see the district handle this area of need to reduce spending and improve outcomes for students?
 
The most critical requirement of any special education program is adherence to the rights of the student who has been identified.  Meeting this requirement may be expensive, but the district must follow the law.  
 
Q. What fresh ideas do you have to elevate Manchester School District’s perception outside of Manchester?
 
Let’s do more to showcase our kids’ achievements.  At one time, the district ran a number of youth leadership programs, including one run in conjunction with the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, that regularly put students out in the community to display their talents and the strengths of Manchester’s schools.  These programs could be revived.  The Mayor’s Youth Council could also be brought back to life.  I also believe the district does not do enough to promote and fund student media.  Cable access used to be filled with high quality student productions.  In addition, why aren’t the newspapers at our three high schools on line?  Let’s share the good news students can tell.  Finally, what about a real public relations campaign touting the incredible accomplishments of alumni/ae as examples of what is possible for current students?
 
Q. What is your opinion of the district’s current math curriculum?
 
I know enough to know what I do not know.  I am an English teacher, not a math teacher. I would defer to the experts when it comes to math methodology, but I do believe the district needs to adopt a math series that includes textbooks that every child can bring home for reference in case s/he forgets what happened in class.   I also believe this curriculum should include on-line tutorials for parents who want to help their kids with math homework.
 
Q. Should Manchester initiate a gifted and talented curriculum?
 
Yes – particularly at the lower grades.
 
Q. How should the district improve outreach to all students prior to graduation to make sure that they are aware of options including tech school, internships, college prep and for-credit courses, community college, AmeriCorps, and other ways to reduce their post-high school debt while improving their occupational outcomes?
 
The district needs to provide students with greater and more frequent access to the guidance department (now known as student services).  Perhaps guidance counsellors need a lighter case load to explore the post secondary options now available.  The district also needs to connect with programs like The Bottom Line and the Posse Project to maximize post secondary opportunities available to our increasingly diverse student body.  Replicating what Breakthrough does for its kids (regarding the college selection process) for ALL Manchester kids might be a start  We also need a mentor program through which all first-generation college students are matched with community volunteers who have been through the college application process.  It is a daunting undertaking, and many kids loose out on opportunities because they are not aware of how the system works and how to navigate it.
 

WARD 3 ALDERMAN (INCUMBENT)

Patrick Long

Age: 62

Occupation: RETIRED IRONWORKER

Skills: What best qualifies you (experience, background) to hold this office and represent the residents of your ward?

At 3 years old I was a ward of the state, living in orphanages and foster homes. This experience prepared me for service. There is no constituent above me and no constituent below me, all are equal to my eyes. I continue this view in delivering for Ward 3 and Manchester. I learned in my 20s the importance of volunteering, it afforded me the connection to our community. I’ve been involved with: Cub Scouts, Pop Warner Youth Football, Little League Baseball, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and Church Youth Group & Choir to name a few, and continue reaching out to organization’s looking to better Ward 3 and Manchester.

Most recently I manned an “Ask your Alderman” booth at a block party, and volunteered in cleaning the Valley Street Cemetery and inner city streets. The more experience I get in our community the more I know what the needs are. There’s no better connection than rolling up your sleeves and working with constituents.  

Q. Why specifically should voters choose you over your opponent?

My experience in consensus building with the other 14 member’s on the Board of Mayor and Alderman, through respect and communication, along with my strong work ethic on delivering for Ward 3 and Manchester. My accessibility to my constituents in Ward 3 and all the residents in Manchester, specifically on issues I’m most familiar in: Housing, Elder Care, Children Needs, Bed Bugs and the opioid crisis.

I brought forward the two budgets in this term that didn’t go over the Tax Cap. On any budget communication with 13 other colleagues on what they would like to see in a budget is first and foremost before beginning to draft a budget (a lot of work!) Adhering to the public’s trust, assuring my constituents continue in being proud of their representation. It’s illegal to place political signs on public property, all my sign positions have the approval of the owner. My Community Commitment, specifically in assuring Manchester’s successes continue, whether it’s the Downtown, Millyard and neighborhoods. I firmly believe that a vibrant and healthy community exists when all its participants are listened to and have a voice at city hall, every resident has invested in Manchester. I will continue in bringing “Our Collective Voice.’’      

Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically to your ward?

I will continue meeting with neighbor groups and individuals working on their quality of life benefits, introducing them to the city departments that can help us most. Continue attending city events, in my opinion a great opportunity in learning Ward and City needs.  I’ve never experienced a time when someone complained about not being able to access me.

Q. What is your position on the city’s Tax Cap?

Ward 3 is the only ward that didn’t pass the Tax Cap, however, I respect the will of the majority. I would vote to override the tax cap to access the revenue portion of our budget. When the economy does well, added and renovated properties create an increase in value. I would vote to invest that revenue into Education, Infrastructure and resources needed for public safety. Again, I brought forward the two budgets in this term that didn’t go over the Tax Cap. The budget process begins with communication with 13 other colleagues on what they would like to see in a budget. That is first and foremost in beginning to draft a budget. Once that is done I drafted a propose budget and began the communication with my 13 colleagues again. Seeking a majority of votes (8) before I would bring my proposal forward.  To state I started with gathering 10 votes is absurd and a lack of knowledge in the process.

Q. How can the BOA work more seamlessly with the Board of School Committee going forward?

In the last two years I spearheaded the way those communications have been conducted and improved. Historically the School Administration would present their budget to the Aldermen. When the Aldermen appropriated the funding the allocation of that funding would be approved or rejected by the Board of School Committee. In the last two years prior to the School presentation the Board of School Committee voted to approve what the Administration is requesting. This assures the Aldermen and the Public knows what the funding will be allocated towards. The Aldermen and the Board of School Committee are accountable to the public and are the final say in total appropriation and allocation of these funds. I also set up a Special Committee on schools which consist of 3 Aldermen and 3 Board of School members, those meeting have produced a productive communication between both boards. 

Q. What is your position on key votes in which a board member may have a conflict of interest – in particular, in reference to the recent vote in which board members had family members who were part of the union which had a contract up for approval? Under what circumstances would you recuse yourself from a vote?

I’m not convinced that current conflicts exist. Being a State Representative I learned early that language that was clear to me had a totally different intent. I would be supportive and VOTED to send the question to the Conduct Committee to get clarification. I would also support a clear question to the voters. I would recuse myself from any vote with which I would have a personal gain from.

Q. What are the top three priorities in your ward that you would advocate for,  if elected?

  • Quality of Life Benefits: Both for Ward 3 and Manchester Residents; Education, Infrastructure including street lighting and alleyways and public safety.  
  • Putting a Face to Children Being Traumatized by our Substance Use Disorder Emergency; Including our School District’s Prevention Initiatives. Ward 3 is highly affected by this.
  • Assuring our Downtown and Millyard continues its growth, this benefits all of Manchester            

Q. What do you view as the top three priorities for the city in the coming years and how will you advocate for addressing them?

I’m convinced that Ward 3 benefits will raise all of Manchester. Manchester’s 10 year Plan is due for review within the next two years, this will  afford us an opportunity in projecting where we want to see our city move towards.         

Q. How would you propose the city address the opioid crisis and related expense to the city incurred by out-of-state clients using Safe Station?

First and foremost I would never consider refusing service to anyone. We’ve been successful at the State and Federal level in articulating our commitment and services to getting our hands around this. I’ll continue my conversations with our Federal Delegation and Advocating in my capacity as a State Representative in securing funding for programs that we will and already have drafted consistent with best practices.   I’ve drafted a “Whole Family SUD Emergency Plan” I’m convinced that this plan will move Manchester forward on taking this crises to the next level. It addresses Recovery, Prevention and Traumatized Children. Manchester through Safe Station has addressed successfully Treatment.

Q. How would you propose the city address panhandling, given the recent federal court ruling on the existing ordinance, deemed unconstitutional?

Panhandling is a National occurrence,  I’ve traveled to several large cities to review how they respond. I believe we need to review and reconsider implementing a Homeless Day Center. During Central Streets Day Center’s time, there were fewer panhandlers. A more detailed and accountable management of a day center would give opportunity for housing and jobs not to forget dignity to all that are struggling, which include women and children.

Q. What is your vision for the immediate and long-term future of the city that would do the most to improve quality of life for residents?

 Manchester Connects is an initiative I’ve been involved with for over 2 years. That initiative will improve the quality of life both immediate and long term. Education improvements is imperative on raising quality of life, for both families with children and my quality of life with no children in the district. My vision on all ideas being reviewed and welcomed, elected officials and citizens working cooperatively in committing to these improvements.  Listening and addressing all struggles that our citizens communicate to us.

Q. How would you suggest the city be more welcoming to young families and businesses?

Educational Superiority; Wide range of quality and affordable Housing; Events that attract families and businesses. I believe that Manchester currently has piqued the interest of business, evident by the vitality of Downtown and The Millyard, its imperative that we continue on that success. One way is reviewing our Planning Department Ordnances, in changing barriers for businesses. 


WARD 3 BOARD OF ALDERMAN 

Tim Baines

Age: 38

Occupation: Owner/Operator of Mint Bistro

Skills: I am a lifelong resident of Manchester and I live and own a business in Ward 3. In 20 years of management I have always seen the power in showing respect for each individual within the operation, and ensuring that their voice is heard. Nobody is better than anyone else and I have always worked to create a culture where equal respect is shown to the dish washer as well as the Executive Chef or General Manager. In doing so, I have been consistently able to bring people together to achieve results. I believe that this experience is critical in representing a ward. Everyone deserves to have their voice heard and everyone will have their voice heard if I have the opportunity to serve. 

Q. Why specifically should voters choose you over your opponent? 

In all levels of government, we have a problem with elected officials staying for too long. When politicians stay in office for a long time, they start to think that they know what is best and lose touch with the people that they represent. There are significant concerns in the neighborhoods of Ward 3 and in the downtown, and I will work hard starting on day one to ensure the residents that I am there for them, will advocate for them, and they can always communicate with me. I pledge to be the hardest working alderman and will always be advocating for the residents. 

Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically to your ward?

I will host community meetings at least twice per year that connects the residents to the department heads. I will have an online presence where residents can reach out and I will return all phone calls and meet up with residents whenever I am needed. I will also have an open door policy at Mint Bistro on Elm St. where residents can stop by to ask questions or share their concerns. 

Q. What is your position on the city’s Tax Cap?

We override the tax cap too often. The current approach to the tax cap is that the votes are lined up to override before the budgeting process starts. People want to see value from their tax dollars. As a small business owner, I know what it takes to craft a budget, manage it, and adjust when needed. As a city, we need to establish a vision for the next 5-10 years and in doing so we can take a more responsible approach to the budgeting process and end the gridlock that we see year after year. The taxpayers should be respected.

Q. How can the BOA work more seamlessly with the Board of School Committee going forward?

This has been a problem that has plagued our city politics for decades. It may be repetitive but we need a new generation of leaders on both boards that can start to put the residents of Manchester first. I will immediately build alliances with board members on the Board of School Committee that care about the future of Manchester more than anything else. 

Q. What is your position on key votes in which a board member may have a conflict of interest – in particular, in reference to the recent vote in which board members had family members who were part of the union which had a contract up for approval? Under what circumstances would you recuse yourself from a vote?

First off, the language of the charter needs to be cleared up. The voters should have an opportunity to decide if a member of the board should be able to vote on a contract where they have a relative employed in that department. As for me, I would recuse myself of any vote that had any appearance of benefiting a family member. Thankfully, I do not have any of these conflicts. 

Q. What are the top three priorities in your ward that you would advocate for,  if elected?

Public safety first and foremost as our residents need to feel safe in their homes and in their neighborhoods. After that it would be communication and giving a voice back to all residents in Ward 3. Third, would be repair of our streets and sidewalks. We should have a downtown and neighborhoods that are free of trip hazards and concerns with potholes should be immediately addressed. 

Q. What do you view as the top three priorities for the city in the coming years and how will you advocate for addressing them?

My first priority would be public safety concerns and turning the corner with the opioid epidemic. Second would be collaborating with the mayor, other board members, and members of the community to establish a vision for a better Manchester. Lastly (but just as important) is being an advocate for our public schools. We need to be relentless in finding ways to increase student engagement and in turn decrease our drop out rate. I will challenge others to work with me to repair the reputation of our schools. It is critical!

Q. How would you propose the city address the opioid crisis and related expense to the city incurred by out-of-state clients using Safe Station?

We have to continue and increase our advocating for the state and surrounding communities to chip in. Safe Station is a start and I applaud those that are on the front lines and helping with this crisis. I believe that we need to bring the entire community together again to update the residents on where we stand with this issue. We need to be informing all residents of the resources that are out there to get help, and what to do if we encounter someone that is looking to get help. We need to be providing a work environment where those in recovery can obtain employment while continuing their rehabilitation. This problem will not be solved over night, but I think our elected leaders, community leaders, and addiction experts should be working together and I believe education in our community is the next step. 

Q. How would you propose the city address panhandling, given the recent federal court ruling on the existing ordinance, deemed unconstitutional?

Panhandling is a major concern that I hear just about everyday. There are other cities and towns that have conquered this issue. I believe there are educational tools that we can be using to help those that are panhandling receive help. I also believe there are ordinances we as a city can put in place that can help us address these issues while protecting the quality of life and public safety concerns for those that live in and visit our community. I will fight to end the aggressive panhandling concerns in Ward 3, starting on day one. 

Q. What is your vision for the immediate and long-term future of the city that would do the most to improve quality of life for residents?

There are some amazing things happening in Manchester and the growth and investments in our Millyard is one of them. We have to come together and tackle the opioid crisis and the increased homeless population and aggressive panhandling that has come with it. People need to feel safe first and foremost so that Manchester can attract and retain a talented workforce. 

Q. How would you suggest the city be more welcoming to young families and businesses?

There are ways for us to streamline the permitting process for new businesses in Manchester and I look forward to working with Economic Development Office and the Chamber to accomplish this. Young families moving into Manchester need to know that we are a community that is committed to education and student engagement in particular. 


WARD 3 SCHOOL COMMITTEE (INCUMBENT)

Mary Georges

Manchester Public Television

Mary Georges for School Committee / Ward 3

WARD 3 SCHOOL COMMITTEE

Phil Harris

 

WARD 4 BOARD OF ALDERMEN (INCUMBENT)

 

Chris Herbert 
Age 68
Retired
Professional experience: Journalist, stockbroker, business owner.  Political leadership experience: School Board member for 12 years;  NH State Representative 4 years (Wards 4, 5, 6 & 7);  Alderman 2 years.  Married with two children, both grownups now.

Q. Specifically why should voters choose you over your opponent: 

Because I produce budgets with a policy objective of improving city services. My opponent promises he can maintain city services without raising taxes. It is a promise I know he cannot deliver.

Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically to your ward?

I respond to constituent calls with calls back.  If they send me an email, I normally forward it to the pertinent city department for resolution, with my comments.  My experience is the city departments respond quickly. Usually within 24 hours.  I also have the Chris Herbert TV show Wednesdays from 9-10 p.m. on Comcast channel 23.  Usually I don’t take calls unless the listener does not understand what I’ve talked about and has a question.  The show is about the city, the state and the federal government, with an emphasis on fiscal management at all levels.  I’m not there to argue.  

Q. What is your position on the city’s Tax Cap?

The tax cap is amateurish.  It encourages budget gamesmanship and creates fiscal dysfunction.  Very bad idea.  

Q. How can the BOA work more seamlessly with the Board of School Committee going forward?

I’m on the Joint Committee on Education, with two aldermen and three school committee members.  It is a forum that can help ‘clear the air.’  

Q. What is your position on key votes in which a board member may have a conflict of interest – in particular, in reference to the recent vote in which board members had family members who were part of the union which had a contract up for approval? Under what circumstances would you recuse yourself from a vote?

The normal definition of a conflict of interest in politics is where there is a benefit that is exclusive to a voting member, such as where the voting member owns a company competing for a government contract.  The key is that the benefit is exclusive and therefore there is an obvious conflict.  Applying this to where a voting member has a family member who belongs to a large group of people, such as a union, is far too restrictive and basically disenfranchises the voters who elected the voting member. It’s like saying Democrats can’t vote because they support unionization. I believe the current wording of conflict of interest in the charter is being interpreted far to broadly and is unconstitutional.  There are other conflict of interest definitions that we should adopt.

Q. What are the top three priorities in your ward that you would advocate for,  if elected?

  • Sidewalks everywhere. 
  • Better elderly services and transportation. 
  • More trash pickups and stronger fines for landlords whose properties are poorly maintained. 

I’ll advocate for more funding and bring up these three subjects at every opportunity.

Q. What do you view as the top three priorities for the city in the coming years and how will you advocate for addressing them?

  • More housing overall and continued expansion of the university systems already in place, particularly the University of New Hampshire and Southern New Hampshire University. 
  • Two big problems are housing and services for the elderly AND the millennials who are coming to the city to work in its growing high-tech business community. 
  • Also we need to investigate whether the city would benefit from owning a public bank.  

Q. How would you propose the city address the opioid crisis and related expense to the city incurred by out-of-state clients using Safe Station?

The city should not have to fund the services aimed at eliminating the use of opioids and other narcotics.  The federal government and Congress is the only government that has sufficient money to fund the fight against narcotic addiction.  

Q. How would you propose the city address panhandling, given the recent federal court ruling on the existing ordinance, deemed unconstitutional?

License panhandlers.  Regulate them.

Q. What is your vision for the immediate and long-term future of the city that would do the most to improve quality of life for residents?

Change the tax system.  Relying on property taxes too much is simply not up to the funding needs.  And Congress needs to step up to help fund state and municipal needs.  

Q. How would you suggest the city be more welcoming to young families and businesses?

A well-funded city attracts the best and the brightest new citizens.  It has always been that way.  Constantly underfunding city services is the biggest impediment to progress for Manchester.


WARD 4 BOARD OF ALDERMEN

Stephen Mathieu

Age 61

Occupation: Business Owner:  Real Estate Accounting, Bookkeeping & Tax Services, LLC 
Legacy Financial Solutions, Inc.

Q. What best qualifies you (experience, background) to hold this office and represent the residents of your ward? 
As a 29-year city resident, I have a pretty good feel for some of the key problems that the city is confronting. Property taxes, schools, roads, drugs, and several other areas need to be addressed to make the city a better place to live. As a business owner who owns two businesses here in the city, I have to meet a payroll every 2 weeks, so fiscal responsibility and managing budgets are key areas of experience that lend themselves well to the task of being an alderman. Understanding the financial sustainability of the pensions and benefits that the city is obligated to pay is something that I can easily grasp. Having had 3 children go through the Manchester Central High School, I’ve got a good understanding of some of the issues that our students are facing. Finally, having worked with many teachers as clients here in the city and throughout the state (while teaching “Retirement Boot Camp” for the NEA NH Chapters), I’ve  got a good understanding of their needs and concerns. I will bring balance and fiscal responsibility to the Board.

Q. Why specifically should voters choose you over your opponent? 

My opponent (Chris Herbert) has voted to override the Tax Cap, proposed a city owned Bank and advocated to eliminate the property tax credits that go to our financially strapped seniors. He even went so far as to say “…we can’t be run by the elderly…”. 

I vehemently disagree with all 3 positions. First, to avoid having to bust the tax cap, we have to review all the onerous rules that are discouraging builders, investments in Manchester, costing us jobs and causing property price inflation and rent increases. Make it easier to build and improve properties, and the tax base will expand. Second, if the city is having difficulty funding its pension obligations, what on earth would make my opponent think that they could efficiently run a bank? It’s a crazy idea. Finally, the tax credit for the elderly represents less than 1% of the total annual city budget. It’s a non-issue if the tax base is expanded. Besides, our seniors are a treasure to the city. The keep an eye on the neighborhoods, they don’t cost us any money for the schools, they keep families coming to Manchester and their trash collection needs are minimal!

Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically to your ward? 
 
I have a cell phone dedicated to the position. That number is on all my printed materials. 603-722-8039. They can call me anytime.
 
Q. What is your position on the city’s Tax Cap? 
 
I support it 100 percent. Restraint and fiscal responsibility are needed to keep this city affordable.
 
Q. How can the BOA work more seamlessly with the Board of School Committee going forward?
 
I don’t know enough about what’s currently being done to comment intelligently on this question.
 
Q. What is your position on key votes in which a board member may have a conflict of interest – in particular, in reference to the recent vote in which board members had family members who were part of the union which had a contract up for approval? Under what circumstances would you recuse yourself from a vote? 
 
This was a clear violation of the city charter. Any vote where an individual or his family members have a direct financial interest would warrant a recusal. 
 
Q. What are the top three priorities in your ward that you would advocate for, if elected? 
  • Reduce crime and drugs in the neighborhoods.
  • Make the streets safer…improve sidewalks, lighting and slow down some of the traffic on certain streets
  • Keep taxes low and affordable, for families and Seniors. 
Q. What do you view as the top three priorities for the city in the coming years and how will you advocate for addressing them? 
  • Make it easier for businesses to do business in the city – thus expanding the tax base.
  • Make better contractual arrangements with all city workers, so that what we have will be sustainable in the years ahead.
  • Improve the schools by focusing the spotlight on things like redistricting, more emphasis on educating kids in the Trades, and going back to basics: Reading Writing and Arithmetic.  
Q. How would you propose the city address the opioid crisis and related expense to the city incurred by out-of-state clients using Safe Station? 
 
I don’t know enough about what’s currently being done to comment intelligently on this question.
 
Q. How would you propose the city address panhandling, given the recent federal court ruling on the existing ordinance, deemed unconstitutional? 
 
I don’t know enough about what’s currently being done to comment intelligently on this question.
 
Q. What is your vision for the immediate and long-term future of the city that would do the most to improve quality of life for residents? How would you suggest the city be more welcoming to young families and businesses?

Make it easier for businesses to locate and do business here in the city – thus expanding the tax base. This will provide more housing opportunities, more quality jobs and the ability to keep property taxes lower, allowing families to afford to locate here, spend their money here and – in general – enjoy the great quality of life that Manchester has to offer.

 


 

WARD 4 SCHOOL COMMITTEE (INCUMBENT)

Leslie Want

Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically, to your ward?
 
I am always available by phone – both my cell 438-9682 and home phone 623-0761, as well as, by email BOSCWard4@MANSD.org. I also attend PTA, PTO and Parent Council meetings in my ward.
 
Q. What do you consider the greatest strength of Manchester School District?
 
The people… We have hardworking dedicated teachers and administrators who genuinely love our students. We have students who come from all walks of life and MANY different cultures and show every day that diversity is strength! 
 
Q. What is the one area in need of most improvement within the school district?
 
Reducing class size needs to be a top priority of the Board during the next term. Redistricting can help with this if we, as a community, are willing to invest in more teachers at our elementary schools and level I & II in our high schools.
 
Q. How would you rate Superintendent Bolgen Vargas after his first year as superintendent, and why?
 
I think that Dr. Vargas is doing a fantastic job! He is passionate about learning and feels a tremendous sense of urgency that I have not seen before. It is not enough for him to maintain the status quo and to put out the daily fires. He is always looking ahead at the big picture which is what we need!
 
Q. What is your position on redistricting, and what ideas will you bring to the conversation if elected?
 
Redistricting is tough because it involves that one thing we all want to avoid… change. That said, the Board is going to have to do the hard work necessary and look at what is best for students across the District. I look forward to the results of our Facilities Study in December and working with Dr. Vargas to engage all stake holders in a solution that uses our space to the students’ best advantage.
 
Q. What is your position on how the school district currently handles special education and students who are bussed out of district for services? Is there another way you’d like to see the district handle this area of need to reduce spending and improve outcomes for students?
 
Special Education is a challenge in most school districts across the country because it is an unfunded mandate from the federal government. ALL children deserve a good education no matter what their disability is. I would be willing to talk about opening a special school here in Manchester for some of the children we currently send out of district, but believe it should not be done simply for cost savings but because that is what is best for those children – to stay in our community and remain close to their families.
 
Q. What fresh ideas do you have to elevate Manchester School District’s perception outside of Manchester?
 
We should have a marketing firm help get the word the word out about our schools. The amazing stuff that goes on in our buildings is the best kept secret in NH!
 
Q. What is your opinion of the district’s current math curriculum?
 
I believe one proven program should be adopted districtwide so that students who move from school to school don’t fall through the cracks. This will also mean we can be more efficient with professional development and transitions from elementary to middle, as well as, high school.
 
Q. Should Manchester initiate a gifted and talented curriculum?
 
ALL students need to be challenged. We have a program now at ParkerVarney that allows children to move at their own pace in multi-grade classrooms so a child is not held back by having to spend a certain amount of time in a seat but can achieve competencies at a faster rate if they are able. This system also allows students who need a little more time to grasp material the leeway to do so. Win-win.
 
Q. How should the district improve outreach to all students prior to graduation to make sure that they are aware of options including tech school, internships, college prep and for-credit courses, community college, AmeriCorps, and other ways to reduce their post-high school debt while improving their occupational outcomes?
 
We have got to start early and often telling both the student and their families about these opportunities because by the time the child reaches high school it is too late. I seriously don’t think even kindergarten is too early to start talking about all the options that children have.

WARD 4 SCHOOL COMMITTEE 

Mark Flanders

Manchester Public Television

Mark Flanders for School Committee / Ward 4

 
 

WARD 5 BOARD OF ALDERMAN (INCUMBENT)

Tony Sapienza
Age: 57 
Electrician 
 
Skills: I have a questioning attitude, the ability to understand the finances, and an understanding of Ward 5 that comes from living in Ward 5 all my life. 
 
Q. Why specifically should voters choose you over your opponent?
 
I have a proven record of service and representation that the voters can count on me to continue. 
 
Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically to your ward? 
 
I can be reached by phone or email and I have a strong record of personally responding to each.
 
Q. What is your position on the city’s Tax Cap? 
 
I agree that taxes should not rise more than the inflation index allows but I also believe we need to use revenues from new construction to finance needed city services. 
 
Q. How can the BOA work more seamlessly with the Board of School Committee going forward?
 
A great first step towards better cooperation would be to stop criticizing the other board.
 
Q. What is your position on key votes in which a board member may have a conflict of interest – in particular, in reference to the recent vote in which board members had family members who were part of the union which had a contract up for approval? Under what circumstances would you recuse yourself from a vote? 
 
As I have demonstrated, if your family member as defined in the charter will be affected by the contract  you should not vote for it.
Again,  as I have demonstrated,  I recused myself when my family member would have been affected by a contract. My record shows that I have done so.
 
Q. What are the top three priorities in your ward that you would advocate for, if elected? 
 
Taxes, paving, and protecting neighborhoods from unreasonable developments. 
 
Q. What do you view as the top three priorities for the city in the coming years and how will you advocate for addressing them? 
 
Taxes, public safety  and schools. The best way to address these issues is to allow departments flexibility to innovate to allow changes within the existing budget. 
 
Q. How would you propose the city address the opioid crisis and related expense to the city incurred by out-of-state clients using Safe Station? 
 
I am very proud of the fact that Manchester is saving lives every single day. The state reps from Manchester both Democrats and Republicans need to secure help (funding) from Concord because Manchester is serving the whole state.
 
Q. How would you propose the city address panhandling, given the recent federal court ruling on the existing ordinance, deemed unconstitutional?
 
Panhandling only works because people are naive enough to handout money on the street instead of donating to legitimate charitable organizations. Education is key, the signs were great. 
 
Q. What is your vision for the immediate and long-term future of the city that would do the most to improve quality of life for residents? How would you suggest the city be more welcoming to young families and businesses?
 
In Ward 5 the immediate needs are picking up trash and paving. The long-term needs are maintaining public safety and improving education and  city services while keeping the tax burden bearable.  Let’s make existing residents feel welcome. This city is welcoming as evidenced by the people who continue to move here. 

WARD 5 BOARD OF ALDERMEN CANDIDATE

Cameron Barr


WARD 5 SCHOOL COMMITTEE (INCUMBENT)

LISA FREEMAN

Manchester Public Television

Lisa M Freeman for School Committee / Ward 5


WARD 5 SCHOOL COMMITTEE

KATHRYN STAUB

Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically, to your ward?

While I would welcome calls or emails from people in Ward 5, I am not going to wait for constituents to contact me. I will do what I can to be out at the schools for events and plan to connect with families wherever I can. I will create opportunities to talk to families if I think there aren’t enough already happening.

Q. What do you consider the greatest strength of Manchester School District?

We have wonderful, dedicated people who have chosen to work in our schools. We need to find ways to work together to get our children the education they need to have successful lives.

Q. What is the one area in need of most improvement within the school district?

We need to stop creating chaos. Instead of dumping everything and starting over we need to adopt a continuous improvement approach. Keep what works, change what doesn’t.

Q. How would you rate Superintendent Bolgen Vargas after his first year as superintendent, and why?

I think he has done a good job of connecting with community members. Understanding what the community wants is an important first step to if you want to create change.

Q. What is your position on redistricting, and what ideas will you bring to the conversation if elected?

Schools are not just buildings, they are communities. Redistricting is a very difficult and unpopular action for students and families. It has not been made clear to me how this will improve education for students.I would like to see a plan that lays out how education will be improved. 

Q. What is your position on how the school currently handles special education and students who are bussed out of district for services? Is there another way you’d like to see the district handle this area of need to reduce spending and improve outcomes for students?

Special Education needs a hard look. I would like to look at best practices from other districts to see how we could do a better job for our students. Keeping kids in their local schools allows them to spend more time with their families and allows them to be better integrated into their community.

Q. What fresh ideas do you have to elevate Manchester School District’s perception outside of Manchester?

As a city we have a lot of unique resources in our community (businesses, cultural institutions, higher education, social and youth services) that we could incorporate into our educational system. When schools, families and the community work together you get the best outcomes for children

Q. What is your opinion of the district’s current math curriculum?

We need to pick a lane and stay in it. We also need to adopt a rigorous, focused professional development program for teachers. A continuous improvement plan should also be adopted to hone the curriculum to get the best outcomes for students.

Q. Should Manchester initiate a gifted and talented curriculum?

I think that personalized learning should be an option for all children. They should be able to move ahead when they are ready and explore content that sparks their interest. New educational technology makes it possible for teachers to make these things happen for students.

Q. How should the district improve outreach to all students prior to graduation to make sure that they are aware of options including tech school, internships, college prep and for-credit courses, community college, AmeriCorps, and other ways to reduce their post-high school debt while improving their occupational outcomes?

All students and families should be made aware of the requirements for different post-secondary options through the guidance departments.. I would like to see more career exploration opportunities, which we have the ability to do given that we are a city  with a broad array of businesses, cultural and higher education institutions. And parents need to be involved so they can help their children follow their dreams. We also need to look at reinstating the dropout prevention programs that help students graduate. Many community groups and individuals would be willing to help guide young people to successful careers. We need to build partnerships with them.


Ward 6 BOARD OF ALDERMEN

Peter Macone

Peter Macone

Age: 33 

Ward 6 

Operations Manager and Partner in Republic Café and Campo Enoteca, Manchester.

Qualification for Alderman: I decided to run for Alderman of Ward 6 when I began to discuss ideas I had for the future of the Queen City and people seemed excited. This is my first time tossing my hat into the political arena and I’ve never had aspirations of State Senate or President of the United States but as an invested partner in Manchester business, I do have aspirations for our city.   I taught special education for a short time after college and I have worked in restaurants for more than 15 years. I currently manage a work force of more than 60 amazing, local employees and I juggle challenging situations, on the fly, every day. Being an invested owner on Elm Street I’ve become active in the development of downtown and I’ve had the opportunity to see the workings of city hall and believe that the potential of this great city is often missed by those tasked with promoting our city and its future.   Living in Ward 6 has offered me an appreciated contrast between the quiet streets of the East side and the busyness of downtown.  I look forward to working with the residents of Ward 6 to improve our neighborhoods and with those at city hall to help Manchester realize its potential.

Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically to your ward?

I will communicate with the residents of my Ward in person, on the phone, via email and even handwritten letter if that’s how they’d like. I have shared my phone number, email and website contacts with each and every resident I’ve met. Some have welcomed us into their homes, others stand with one hand propping the storm door for more than twenty minutes. I have had meaningful and educational conversations with many of the residents of my Ward and I look forward to many more.

Q. What is your position on the city’s Tax Cap?

It is important that we uphold the city charter, and if the tax cap is the law than we uphold it. What I believe is that we have an issue with the structure of the tax cap, resulting in the consistent and sometimes irrational veto of contracts for vital city services. I believe that broadening our downtown tax base will relieve the burden on the residential tax payers of our city and that attention to spending can help us work within a reasonable city budget.

Q. How can the BOA work more seamlessly with the Board of School Committee going forward?

I believe that the Board of Mayor and Alderman and the Board of School Committee must share a common goal of promoting, improving and celebrating our public schools. While it is important that we spend money on and in our public schools it is also important that we hold educators accountable. The relationship between the Board of Mayor and Alderman and the School Board is better now that it has been in the past, but it is important moving forward, that the relationship is a respectful one with an understanding that our public schools drive our cities new growth and its reputation.

Q. What is your position on key votes in which a board member may have a conflict of interest – in particular, in reference to the recent vote in which board members had family members who were part of the union which had a contract up for approval?

In relation to conflict of interest voting I believe that much like the tax cap issue, if it is in the charter, it is law and must be upheld. I do however believe that a definition should be placed on “immediate family” as the Charter reads. I believe “immediate family” to be spouse, children, parents and siblings. I understand that Manchester is a small, old New England community and that many families have been here in Manchester for four, five and even six generations in some cases but with that said a line should be drawn somewhere and I feel “immediate family” is well constricted. If this rule within the charter results in a high instance of more than twenty percent of the Alderman being forced to abstain from voting, then we are creating a situation in which government cannot govern and that would be reason to reassess the charter and its design.

Q. Under what circumstances would you recuse yourself from a vote?

I would recuse myself from a vote if my involvement would result in a charter breach. Aside from this, it would mean extreme factors, causing an inability for me to familiarize myself with an upcoming vote, to force me to abstain.

Q. What are the top three priorities in your ward that you would advocate for, if elected?

Ward 6 is host to a variety of individual and neighborhood specific concerns. The most overarching concern of the ward is the schools our children attend. Being sure our schools are funded, class size is managed and professionals are held accountable is a top priority not only for those who have children’s in school but also for those who understand that school ratings and property values go hand in hand. Something else Ward 6 offers is great green spaces. The trails and spaces around Massabesic are some of the most enjoyable in the city and there is still untapped potential in that park. The Rockingham Recreation Trail is another great aspect of Ward 6. The city has received a grant to improve this trail and I’m excited to be a part of this project. Other concerns of Ward 6 pertain to road maintenance, safety in our neighborhoods and walkability of certain streets. I’ve talked to a number of residents about these issues and I look forward to tackling more of them in the future.

Q. What do you view as the top three priorities for the city in the coming years and how will you advocate for addressing them?

The top priorities for the city are addressing the opioid epidemic and the crime and panhandling that comes along with it. I believe we need to do more to help recovering addicts reintroduce themselves to the work force and giving them safe places to live outside of the social structures that enabled their addiction. Secondly, our schools need to be celebrated, funded and transparent. Due to recent events, I think it is important that the teachers and the school district practice diligence in ensuring parents know that their children are safe in our public schools, what they are learning in schools and that they are welcomed to be involved in our public schools. Lastly, with relation to the budget it is important that address the tax cap if it is effecting our cities ability to fund crucial civil services and if it is decided that the current tax cap will remain law, then it is important that we practice fiscal responsibility to allow us to correctly allocate city funds while remaining within the law.

Q, How would you propose the city address the opioid crisis and related expense to the city incurred by out-of-state clients using Safe Station?

I have already touched on the opioid crisis and I believe that as a partner in two downtown restaurants I have a unique perspective into this epidemic and a unique ability to help those who are looking to beat addiction. If business owners aren’t willing to take chances on those working through recovery, the cycle will continue. Additionally, if we are going to initiate programs like “Safe Station” it is important that we continue to fund this program and the follow-up programs attached to it, Serenity Place for example. On a larger scale, it is time that the State and Federal Government begins to address the influence of pharmaceutical companies on the Medical profession.

Q. How would you propose the city address panhandling, given the recent federal court ruling on the existing ordinance, deemed unconstitutional?

With regards to panhandling in the city, it is time to look to other cities and the humanitarian approaches they have taken to the issue. This problem is noticeable and problematic from Elm Street to South Willow. Some cities have done work programs for the homeless at very little cost to tax payers and with a result of a clean or improved green space. Let us not forget that the issue is another bi-product of the drug epidemic and many of the cities pan handlers would welcome a support system that brings them from recovery to the workforce, and on to becoming a contributing resident.    

Q. How would you suggest the city be more welcoming to young families and businesses? 

A long-term vision for the city includes encouraged neighborhood involvement and activities coupled with green space utilization and improvement across the city. Additionally, I hope to see a school system that is promoted as part of Manchester’s successes, class size reduced and good educators retained within the school district. Downtown needs to be the draw of our city. We have one of America’s largest double dead-end streets and it is pedestrian friendly. Manchester needs more retail downtown, Elm Street should be closed to traffic at least one weekend a summer to promote its retail, its galleries and its restaurants as its main attraction. The new Cultural Arts district should be marketed as a reason to come to Manchester, our downtown parks could be host to weekend events. The downtown district and the mill buildings must be at destination for new small businesses, and new local entrepreneurs. Commuter rail from Manchester to Boston would help property values, decrease commuter traffic and improve Manchester’s mill building appeal to large businesses. As population grows Manchester is becoming less of a weekend exodus city, as we saw this year on Fourth of July Week, and Manchester must welcome this growth and market its own brand.


WARD 6 BOARD OF ALDERMEN (INCUMBENT)

Elizabeth Ann Moreau

Age: 29

Ward 6

Department of Homeland Security

Occupation/Skills: What best qualifies you (experience, background) to hold this office and represent the residents of your ward?

My occupational history includes 5 years of honorable military service in the Army, 3 years in the Manchester VA Hospital and I am currently employed by the Department of Homeland Security.  My varied work history gives me experience with dealing with people from various backgrounds. I can work with new immigrants who may speak little to no English to lawyers and doctors. My military experience has given me discipline, respect and determination. And in my most recent to work experiences I have come face to face with the populations in our city who may be underserved. I am a busy young professional with a family like many of our residents. But I can guarantee I will be at every meeting and have the time and attention to detail to perform the duties of an Alderman.

Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically to your ward?

This has been one of the top concerns of my constituents. I have recently opened a website both for campaigning and use after if I am elected (www.elizabethmoreaunh.com). The website will contain issues in our ward, upcoming events and Alderman meeting breakdowns to keep everyone in the know. I am also planning on offering a monthly roundtable meeting on a weekday night for residents to be able to come and meet to discuss concerns or ideas. When in doubt my phone is also always available any day or time, and you can be assured I will respond to any calls in a reasonable time frame. Phone: 603-782-6776

Q. What is your position on the city’s Tax Cap?

I fully support the Tax Cap and believe we need to learn how to live within our means as a city without going over the Tax Cap.

Q. How can the BOA work more seamlessly with the Board of School Committee going forward?

Speaking for myself, I plan on being fully engaged with the Board of School Committee and will work with the Ward 6 appointee on the issues they believe need funding, or attention. Just in campaigning I have learned a lot about our school system beyond my own knowledge as a mother of a second grader. I have been working with Jon DiPietro , candidate for BOSC Ward 6, to further my knowledge and to ascertain the best path forward to repair our district’s perception problem and resource allocation issues.

Q. What is your position on key votes in which a board member may have a conflict of interest – in particular, in reference to the recent vote in which board members had family members who were part of the union which had a contract up for approval?

A conflict is a conflict. I believe the constituents in my Ward who support me agree that a conflict of interest is defined as “is a situation in which a person or organization is involved in multiple interests, financial interest, or otherwise, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation of the individual or organization.” If that doesn’t clear it up for the people involved I don’t know what would. I do also understand the City Charter needs to be revisited to better define the path moving forward after such conflict is found to have occurred, such as what repercussions it would have on the offending Alderman.

Q. Under what circumstances would you recuse yourself from a vote?

If a vote had any financial gain for my fiancé, daughter or myself I would recuse or abstain from the vote. As no one in my family is a city employee or business owner I do not see this becoming a problem. As always, this would need to be re-assessed should any factor change in the future.

Q. What are the top three priorities in your ward that you would advocate for, if elected?

Roadway/Parks maintenance, school overcrowding and the Tax Cap.

Q. What do you view as the top three priorities for the city in the coming years and how will you advocate for addressing them?

Tax Cap: I will work to find creative solutions to our budgeting issues which work within our Tax Cap.

School Performance/Perception: I will work closely with the BOSC to come up with strategies to both help our student’s reach their full potential and to fix the outside perception of our school district.

Drug Epidemic: The resources we are giving funding to need to be ranked in order of their success rates. If the programs in place have a low recovery rate then we need to allocate those funds to either new programs or other programs which are succeeding at a higher rate.

Q, How would you propose the city address the opioid crisis and related expense to the city incurred by out-of-state clients using Safe Station?

Alternative funding ideas need to be brought up. If a person comes to Manchester but is a resident elsewhere and has a drug addiction problem we should be able to request additional funding outside of the allotted amount for Manchester.

Q. How would you propose the city address panhandling, given the recent federal court ruling on the existing ordinance, deemed unconstitutional?

Though the original ordinance was deemed unconstitutional there are other ways to issue ordinances and laws which could have the same intent and work within the Constitution.

What is your vision for the immediate and long-term future of the city that would do the most to improve quality of life for residents?

One of many ideas I have is to institute a downtown housing cleanup. Offer programs or initiatives to multifamily building owners to clean up and bring their rentals into this century. If we continue to let the 3- and – family units from the early 1900s to decay in place we will end up with housing and health epidemic in the next 10-20 years.

Q. How would you suggest the city be more welcoming to young families and businesses? 

To be more welcoming to young families we need to fix our school class sizes and perception. When a school is rated a 2 or 3 out of 10 on most real estate sites can be a major deterrent. When it comes to businesses it is primarily having the commercial space needed for a company to operate and having a tax system which is deemed beneficial to them.


WARD 6 SCHOOL COMMITTEE (INCUMBENT)

Daniel H. Bergeron

Dan Bergeron (incumbent)

Age: 55

Ward: 6

Occupation: Stay at Home Parent

Q. What best qualifies you (experience, background) to hold this office and represent the residents of your ward?

Great question. As the Incumbent, I’ve had the benefit of the past 20 months to acquire a skill set that accompanies our exposure to the many sides of all things education, whether it be personnel, trends, research, social media, privacy, politics, race, dress code, attendance, curriculum, culture, empathy, the 75 countries our students represent, heroism, partnerships, national attention, as well as missed opportunities. Although it can be challenging, in the midst of gaining this unique insight, and truly remain approachable, it is a step in the right direction when a Board of School Committee (BOSC) member can be of the mindset that, “this is not about me. It’s about them, whether “them or “they” may be a student, an educator, a new community member, even, a colleague.

In March of 2013, and August of 2015, I humbly accepted the nomination(s) for an appointment to complete the term(s) of two unanticipated vacancies to represent Ward 6 on the BOSC. When I asked my then Alderman, Garth Corriveau, what traits or experience he considered relevant in my nomination, he cited the many years as an active parent of a middle and high school student, in addition to time well spent as a supporter of music and the arts, along with its students, their support network, and educators , all while promoting (in the case of a Manchester memorial High School booster, MMHS), both the athletic and academic achievement of our student, as well as a rotation as one of the two parent group presidents, in this case, the Parents of Performing Students (P.O.P.S) , working alongside the hundreds of amazing friends, family, and neighbors of our 300+ music students.

I quickly discovered how vital a role my friends, family, and neighbors would have in ensuring that the student’s voice was always represented. The best decisions are made when stakeholders from our schools, our city, and our neighborhoods collaborate. Effective change has the best chance of success when a ward’s Alderman, School Board member, its students and educators, each invest, inviting community organizations, each investing, as stated in the Manchester School District’s (MSD) Mission Statement, exemplified by all of my campaign assets.

I asked a third grade student from Green Acres Elementary School to illustrate her version of a school, city hall, and a home, as all three must work together.

In my 2015 school board campaign, great focus was placed on Economic Development (ED), and the pivotal role ED can have on the growth of a city. Low investment in ED can result in stagnation, even worse, the decline of a city. The City of Manchester and the MSD must invest in ED efforts to combat the negative headlines that continue to create a false narrative.

My network continues to expand beyond Greater Manchester in an effort to foster active partnerships with colleges / universities / other K12 districts, business, nonprofits, and our local, state, and national delegation. The City of Manchester struggles to fill thousands of high tech jobs, yet there are empty seats in many engineering classrooms. The more I travel around the state, the more I discover how desirable a partnership with the MSD is.

The city can boast several proud, dedicated alumni who not only founded their businesses in Manchester, but make an effort to give back to the community in the form of sponsorship, or internships, that often result in permanent, full-time roles. This is further evidenced by Manchester Memorial High School’s Alumnus, Nick Soggu, President & CEO of SilverTech, who has offered paid internships to our students while they are enrolled in a local college or university, which has every chance of SilverTech becoming their full-time employer once graduated. Nick’s efforts keep our youth in Manchester during college, and after graduation, all while providing self-esteem and respect for our students, my Son being one of them. It’s safe to say that the MSD could make more of an effort to celebrate its alumni.


Jon DiPietro

WARD 6 SCHOOL COMMITTEE

Jon DiPietro

Ward 6

Age: 49

Occupation: Digital Marketing Consultant
Skills/Experience: I’ve been an award-winning volunteer leader for 15 years, served on several boards, and chaired committees, so I understand how to affect change in organizations. I’m an engineer, so I understand how to use data and solve problems within constraints. And I’m a father of 4 daughters who’ve spent 30 collective years (so far) in Manchester’s public schools, so I understand the good, the bad, and the ugly in the system.
 
Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically, to your ward?
 
I’ve been a vocal advocate on social media and my personal website for years. I’ll continue to utilize Facebook, local television and radio, and my blog to regularly communicate with constituents. In addition to those electronic channels, I will commit to scheduling regular (i.e. monthly), face-to-face community meetings at local coffee shops, schools, etc.
 
Q. What do you consider the greatest strength of Manchester School District?
 
MSD’s greatest strength is its resources – that means financial, technological, and human. We have the state’s largest economic engine and tax base. We have its most advanced technology companies. And we have a rich secondary-educational system. These resources should allow us to build a school system that is second to none in the state, if not New England.
 
Q. What is the one area in need of most improvement within the school district?
 
Allocation of resources is the school district’s most pressing need. We must move resources from where we have too many (i.e. high schools) to where we have too few (i.e. elementary schools). This will allow us to have more consistent and appropriate class sizes at all grades. Curriculum and standards are a very close second place in terms of most pressing needs.
 
Q. How would you rate Superintendent Bolgen Vargas after his first year as superintendent, and why?
 
I would give Superintendent Vargas an A+ for his first year. He wasted no time and did not ask for any honeymoon period in his first year. He utilized the curriculum audit to identify key areas in need of improvement and acted immediately. He has articulated a clear vision for the district and already has several commendable accomplishments under his belt, including reintroducing programs at the middle schools and cleaning up a messy, sub par district assessment strategy.
 
Q. What is your position on redistricting, and what ideas will you bring to the conversation if elected?
 
MSD desperately needs to perform some form of redistricting. Our schools are currently 29% under capacity, with the high schools being 44% empty. Dr. Vargas is currently working on a plan to “right size” the district and better utilize our resources. I trust the plan he puts forth will be best for the district and will defer making too many specific recommendations, giving Dr. Vargas some breathing room. However, I understand many parents are concerned about their children possibly having to move from their current school and I will support strategies to mitigate those instances. I think we can incorporate a stepped approach that “grandfathers” existing students in combination with a policy that will allow parents some choice in school placement.
 
Q. What is your position on how the school currently handles special education and students who are bussed out of district for services? Is there another way you’d like to see the district handle this area of need to reduce spending and improve outcomes for students?
 
I met with NH Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut on this matter this week. I showed him the DoE’s response to Manchester’s 2016 RFP for Special Education Behavior Intervention Services. I believe – and he tended to agree – that there was nothing illegal about Mayor Gatsas’s proposal to expand the city’s special education services. I will fight to get this reexamined by the state DoE and believe we will see a different outcome under the new administration. This will allow MSD to expand its offerings, reduce costs, provide more options to families, and cut transportation costs.
 
Q. What fresh ideas do you have to elevate Manchester School District’s perception outside of Manchester?
 
As a marketing professional, I understand the importance of messaging. I will combine my digital marketing expertise with my engineering background, utilizing data analysis and modern communication techniques to spread the word about the true state of education in Manchester. Having said that, a great product markets itself. By supporting innovative ideas like the special education RFP and improving the standards and curriculum, success will be our most effective message.
 
Q. What is your opinion of the district’s current math curriculum?
 
This is a trick question: The district does not currently have a math curriculum. This is a direct result of the decision to adopt common core standards 3 years ago before the district was ready. Four years ago, I somewhat infamously appeared before the BOSC and implored them to “Stop Experimenting on My Kids.” In that testimony, I made 11 points/predictions that all turned out to be true. The solution is to a) stop experimenting with flavors of the month and b) utilize existing curricula that have proven successful in other districts. There’s no need to continue to reinvent the wheel!
 
Q. Should Manchester initiate a gifted and talented curriculum?
 
Yes, Manchester should initiate a gifted and talented curriculum. As I already stated, our city has some of the most innovative technology companies in the state and if we want to encourage our own students to stay in the city as young professionals, we’ll need to nurture the best and brightest.
 
Q. How should the district improve outreach to all students prior to graduation to make sure that they are aware of options including tech school, internships, college prep and for-credit courses, community college, AmeriCorps, and other ways to reduce their post-high school debt while improving their occupational outcomes?
 

Communication is always an issue and I’ve wrestled with similar challenges in my other volunteer leader roles. In many ways, people are drowning in information overload these days. In marketing terminology, the key is audience segmentation. That means that we need to be smarter about tailoring messages to the groups that want hear them as opposed to “carpet-bombing” everyone with the same messages. There are lots of inexpensive (and/or free) technologies to help us do that and it’s what I do every day in my profession.


WARD 7 BOARD OF ALDERMEN (INCUMBENT)

William P. Shea 

Q. What best qualifies me to hold this office both experience and in background?

I have been a life long Manchester resident, attended parochial schools , St Anselm’s College, graduated Magna Cum Laude. Attended Boston University and earned both a  Master’s Degree and Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies. I am a  Korean War Vet, with the highest peace time award from the US Army European Division.I was a teacher for seven years and Hallsville School Principal for 32 years . I have been a Ward 7 Alderman and will complete 22 years at the end of this year.

As an Alderman, I have served on every committee presently serving as Chairman of The Community Improvement Program and I am a member of the Human Resource Committee and Administration and Information and Systems Committee.
I am presently the Chairman of the subcommittee on Energy Contracts and related activities and a member of subcommittees on the Airport Activities, Manchester Municipal Complex and Civic Center. I have served on the Special Joint Committee on Education and Chairman of the Recount Committee. I have attended every meeting as a member of these committees.

Q. How do I communicate with constituents on matters of importance to the city?

I have always tried to visit homes and tenements in Ward 7 to discuss and address their concerns and inform them of city-wide issues. I attend every Neighborhood Watch Meeting held monthly from September to June in coordination with the police department at Fire Engine 7. I have answered every call and email made to my home and can be reached on the city’s website.

Q. What is my position on the city’s tax cap?

My Aldermanic votes have consistently supported our city’s tax cap and will continue to do so.

Q. How can the Board of Mayor and Alderman work together?

There should be quarterly meetings between the two boards with a prepared agenda which deals with matters impacting financial items in their budget and how they are dealing with them. The Board of Mayor and Alderman can only approve a budget for the school board and has no authority to dictate how or where the money can be spent.

Q. What is my position on key matters  in a conflict of interest by an Alderman.

Every Alderman has an obligation to abstain from voting and our charter makes this very clear to every Alderman. I have followed this practice in the past and will continue to do.

Q. What are the three priorities in Ward 7 that I advocate?

  • Fair and reasonable taxes that adhere to the tax cap.
  • Continued ways to help with the opiate crises through financial support and other means including cooperation with the Aldermanic Board, the Police, Fire, Health Departments and State and Federal Departments.
  • Constant ways to help with public and private safety in cooperation with the police department through Neighborhood Watch meetings and other programs initiated by the police department.

Q. What are the top priorities for the city?

  • A fair and reasonable tax base by working to shift from the home owners to the commercial and industrial entities for the sources of taxes.
  • Continue working on the city’s part to develop our downtown through the efforts of the Manchester Development Corporation,City’s Economic Development and the establishment of a special Mayor’s Committee to examine ways for developers to invest in our community.
  • To establish liaisons with state and federal officials to help with different ways of funding for technology and other start-up companies to start new businesses in our community or expand existing businesses.

Q. How should the city address the opioid crises ?

The Board of Mayor and Alderman have contributed financial resources to help in this crisis as well as private business and citizens in Manchester to help all in need of services. Other in state and out-of-state departments are now starting their own outreach programs to assume responsibility for their residents and must be provided with help in this process. We might provide a financial statement where and when help has been provided in order for them to help in this matter.

Q. Addressing panhandling:

The signs have proven helpful in areas where posted and our city’s solicitor’s office plans to examine the recent court’s decision and provide insights to the Board of Mayor and Alderman on how to proceed in this matter.

Q. What is my long-term vision for the city and a welcoming for young families and businesses?

Our city must have a well-balanced tax cap from commercial, industrial and home owners. Our school department must address the needs of all students from those needing special help to others that are intellectually gifted particularly at the Middle Schools. All city departments must strive to make Manchester a place to live that has an environment with the qualities of  financial security, safety and good quality of life.


WARD 7 BOARD OF ALDERMEN

Brenda Noiseux

Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically to your ward?

I am a firm believer in on-going, proactive engagement from City Hall. In order to make decisions, elected officials need to hear from residents. And in talking to residents, it can’t be a one-size-fits-all solution as we have folks with varying levels of access, physical and technological.

If elected, I’ll hold a regular monthly office hours-type meeting, where Ward 7 residents can come and hear what’s happening at City Hall and voice concerns. I’d also like the City to work on an on-going newsletter for people to subscribe to via email and to post online. In the absence of that, I am open to piloting my own Ward 7 email newsletter, to show viability, and/or updating a Facebook page.

Q. What is your position on the city’s Tax Cap?

The tax cap is on the minds of Ward 7 residents. Since its implementation, it has been overridden multiple times and people are frustrated. With multiple years of data available, I support a review of the tax cap. It’s easy to use salaries as a scapegoat so it’s important that we do the hard work and confirm what the tax cap is doing for Manchester, how it may be limiting our city and what is the root cause of the reasons it’s being overridden.

Q. What is your position on key votes in which a board member may have a conflict of interest — in particular, in reference to the recent vote in which board members had family members who were part of the union which had a contract up for approval? Under what circumstances would you recuse yourself from a vote?

I believe that as the city charter stands right now, that the votes from Alderman with children affected by the contract was a conflict of interest. I also think the other Alderman, almost all of whom have be in office for multiple terms, should have called them out at the time of the vote, raising the question of conflict of interest.

Additionally, it does raise a question, when we talking about union contracts that affect hundreds of employees; if you are elected as an Alderman to represent the 5,000-10,000 people in your ward and the majority of your constituents support that contract but your child is one of the say 200 people affected, how do you think should that be handled?

I do not have any family members that work for the city, so this would not be an issue for me as an Alderman.

Q. What are the top three priorities in your ward that you would advocate for,  if elected?

I’ve been having great conversation with Ward 7 residents since the summer and they share the same big concerns as the rest of the city: the drug crisis, quality schools and taxes. But more than that, they have raised concerns about community, getting to know more than just their immediate neighbors and having more family-friendly events here in Ward 7.

I’ll advocate for civility and respectful debate on the Board of Alderman, taking a proactive role reaching out to Ward 7 residents and actively working with community leaders and businesses.

Q. What do you view as the top three priorities for the city in the coming years and how will you advocate for addressing them?

I believe one of the biggest issues facing Manchester is the lack of a vision and strategic plan. In business, we have plans for 12 months, 3 years, 5 years and beyond. Having a plan makes it easier to prioritize the projects and funding. It allows us to make hard decisions and give real reasons to our residents. The Elm St paving project is an example of what happens when we don’t have a solid future-thinking plan.  

Q. How would you propose the city address the opioid crisis and related expense to the city incurred by out-of-state clients using Safe Station?

The opioid crisis is a complex issue, so it’s imperative that we listen and work with police, firefighters, community partners and the state to craft solutions. I’ve been fortunate to have ride alongs with both the Manchester Police and Fire Departments as well as tour Serenity Place. Safe Station is a great program, but it only addresses a portion of the issue. Drug misuse occurs for multiple reasons, including mental illness, so access to treatment can be challenging for those who are homeless and/or do not have health insurance. I’d also like to see more proactive options for folks who are at-risk for drug use.

From a funding perspective, city officials should be aware of the efficacy of programs.  We should also be working with the communities where these individuals are from and the state to ensure that Manchester is not unfairly taking on the cost share just because we have better social services.


WARD 7 SCHOOL COMMITTEE

Ethan Moorhouse

 
Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically, to your ward?

I will have an open line of communication with constituents, always answering calls, emails, letters or any other form of communication.  If elected, I will have a strong appearance at school events where I can interact one on one with constituents and parents.  I will be willing to meet with constituents to discuss their concerns or visions with our schools here in Manchester.

 
Q. What do you consider the greatest strength of Manchester School District?
 
The greatest strength of our district would be our outstanding teachers.  Recently we have seen some of their ingenuity in helping to pilot mixed grade classrooms.  School districts can have all the technology in the world with brand new textbooks and resources, but if we don’t have excellent teachers, students won’t be able to succeed in their studies.
 
Q . What is the one area in need of most improvement within the school district?
 
The biggest improvement that we need in our district is reallocating the funds within the district itself.  If the SAU offices were to move from the Mill West over to West High School as well as the adult education, we could save revenues which can be diverted to ensure class sizes are being reduced, textbooks and technology are up to date, and teachers have all the resources they need to successfully teach students.
 
Q. How would you rate Superintendent Bolgen Vargas after his first year as superintendent, and why?
 
I would give Superintendent Vargas a high rating, mainly because his willingness to work with the innovation that we are seeing in our district.  Dr. Vargas is embracing the mixed classes at Parker-Varney and wants to see how that can help further a student’s education.  He wants to figure out why kids at Smyth Road School are achieving high test scores than others in the district.  Dr. Vargas is truly working to better our district by thinking outside the box to look at new innovative solutions to ensure that Manchester schools are the best in the state.
 
Q. What is your position on redistricting, and what ideas will you bring to the conversation if elected?
 
I believe that redistricting right now will just be a temporary band aid to the solution.  Currently, we are seeing elementary classrooms that are pushing 30 students per class.  That is unacceptable, we need to have smaller classroom sizes and redistricting won’t help that.  Once the district is in a better financial situation and has the ability to create smaller class sizes, then we can look into redistricting.
 
Q. What is your position on how the school currently handles special education and students who are bussed out of district for services? Is there another way you’d like to see the district handle this area of need to reduce spending and improve outcomes for students?
 
I am a firm believer that every student no matter what learning disabilities they may have should have equal access to high quality education.  One thing with special education is the high cost, but a lot of funding for special education comes from the federal government.  If elected, I will ensure that federal grants for special education will go to special education services to ensure that all students are receiving an equal and comprehensive education.
 
Q. What fresh ideas do you have to elevate Manchester School District’s perception outside of Manchester?
 
I briefly touched upon this in an earlier response.  I don’t support any new taxes on Manchester residents in order to fund Manchester schools.  We have to look at innovative ways within the district such as moving the SAU and adult ed over to West.  If elected, I will travel to Concord to advocate for Manchester schools to ensure that we are receiving the highest amount of funding that we are eligible to receive.
 
One thing to revive the perception of Manchester schools would be to get student involvement in on our board.  As a 19 year-old recent graduate of Memorial High School in 2016, I bring a unique perspective to the board, one that hasn’t really been represented on the board.  If elected, I will work day in and day out to get a youth advisory committee or non-voting members to advocate for students and to get a unique perspective inside the classroom.
 
Q.  What is your opinion of the district’s current math curriculum?
 
I believe that the current math curriculum needs some work to make it the best that it can be.  If we were to work with teachers and build a comprehensive curriculum, whether that is straight by the textbook or not.  We need to incorporate the innovative ideas of mixed grade classrooms to that way each student is learning at their own pace so they are receiving the best education they can get.
 
Q. Should Manchester have a gifted/talented program; and how should the district improve outreach to all students prior to graduation to make sure that they are aware of options including tech school, internships, college prep and for-credit courses, community college, AmeriCorps, and other ways to reduce their post-high school debt while improving their occupational outcomes?
 
In order to create a new vibrant curriculum, we need to work with partners and businesses in the area to create a new curriculum includes public-private partnerships to give students access to career fields to start interning early, and start working early if they don’t want to go to college right away.  For myself, I took a gap year after graduating and I felt that the school didn’t embrace the fact that I wanted to get involved in my career field before starting college.  If we were to work with each student and help them build a career path that includes internships, co-ops, or organizations like AmeriCorps, Peace Corps or City Year.  I believe that in today’s day and age, you shouldn’t have to go to college right after high school.  Let students explore career opportunities before investing in an education just to realize they don’t like their field.  We need to work together to ensure that students are being set up to be the best in their field.

WARD 7 SCHOOL COMMITTEE (INCUMBENT)

Ross Terrio

Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically, to your ward?

Email, telephone, my schoolboard Facebook page, and in-person (I attend many different school events and I talk to people when I am out in the community). Plus, I go door-to-door every election and talk to people about our schools.

Q. What do you consider the greatest strength of Manchester School District?

The dedication of our teaching staff to go above-and-beyond the call of duty with the resources available to them. Unfortunately, it is not well known that students who work hard and take upper-level courses can get a world-class education in Manchester.

Q . What is the one area in need of most improvement within the school district?

School funding. Manchester spends less on students than almost every other community in New Hampshire.

Q. How would you rate Superintendent Bolgen Vargas after his first year as superintendent, and why?

Excellent. He is a strong leader with a tireless work ethic. He is bringing the much needed change our district needs. The only problem I can see is that he has “ruffled a lot of feathers” of people who don’t like his style of leadership.

Q. What is your position on redistricting, and what ideas will you bring to the conversation if elected?

I support redistricting and it is long overdue. It will help us balance class sizes, especially in the elementary schools.

Q. What is your position on how the school currently handles special education and students who are bussed out of district for services? Is there another way you’d like to see the district handle this area of need to reduce spending and improve outcomes for students?

We are going to take another look at providing these services in-house in partnership with an outside organization. This will help us provide these mandatory services while saving tax dollars.

Q. What fresh ideas do you have to elevate Manchester School District’s perception outside of Manchester?

There is a perception both in Manchester and throughout New Hampshire that the Manchester schools are deficient. I have personally spoken out about the fact that Manchester routinely sends students to some of the best colleges in the country including Ivy League schools, where our students not only are competitive but excel because of the education they received in Manchester.

Q.  What is your opinion of the district’s current math curriculum?

I am not on the Curriculum and Instruction Committee but I think our curriculum is competitive at the high school and middle school level. The complaints I have heard are with the math curriculum at the elementary school level. We need to pick a math curriculum that works and make it universal at that level.

Q. Should Manchester initiate a gifted and talented curriculum?

Yes. We had one years back but I have not seen any evidence of it lately. We gear a lot of our attention and resources, rightfully so, to Special Education students but our Talented and Gifted students seem to be overlooked.

Q. How should the district improve outreach to all students prior to graduation to make sure that they are aware of options including tech school, internships, college prep and for-credit courses, community college, AmeriCorps, and other ways to reduce their post-high school debt while improving their occupational outcomes?

We need to communicate this message through school assemblies, guidance counselors, and communications with parents. There are many different paths to get an education or to train in a profession. Not every student wants to go or is suitable for college. 


WARD 8 BOARD OF ALDERMEN

John Cataldo

Age 31

Quality Control Lead, Great North Aleworks

SKILLS: My volunteer work in service to others best qualifies me for the office of alderman. An elected official is the representative of the people and serves at the will of the people. Most importantly, through my extensive service and leadership background, I have learned to always listen first to those I am serving. By listening to the citizens of Ward 8, I will constantly have your best interests at heart, and truly be your representative voice. With my background in quality control, I have learned to identify issues before they become a problem. I will bring forethought and vision to the board of alderman.

Q. Why should voters pick you over your opponent?

 I’m an open-minded person who will truly listen to the residents of Ward 8 and advocate on your behalf.  With my background in volunteer work and quality control, I will bring true service and better planning to the city.  I will be focused on our great Ward 8, and put your tax dollars to work in the ward fixing up our streets, sidewalks, and parks.  As a husband and a father in this city, I understand firsthand the challenges of paying a mortgage and raising a family on a working class salary.  I also understand that our seniors are on a fixed income, and can no longer afford the constant increase in taxes that has been occurring, which is why I have pledged to work within the tax cap and will vote against any budget that is an override of the tax cap.  Something that I have heard from many people in Ward 8 while door knocking is the desire for a fresh perspective on the board.  As a first time candidate, I am here to answer that call.  This city is already experiencing a renaissance, and we need new leaders with new ideas to tap the full potential of this great city.  I would be humbled and honored to serve as your Ward 8 Alderman, and I ask for your vote on Tuesday, November 7th.  

Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically to your ward?

I will be available by mail, phone, and email. When an issue arises that affects an area of the ward, I will notify those residents. When there are important issues that affect the whole ward I will also send out mailers with information regarding the issue. I will continue to be active on social media, and post news to the Ward 8 Facebook group.

Q. What is your position on the city’s Tax Cap?

I do not support overriding the tax cap except in cases of providing funds for public safety as stated by the charter. Overriding the tax cap outside of reasons of public safety breaks faith with Manchester taxpayers and voters who voted for it. I fully support our school and city employees and believe they deserve raises, but we must do it responsibly.

Q. How can the BOA work more seamlessly with the Board of School Committee going forward?

The board of alderman can put more emphasis on the joint committee on schools. I will keep in constant contact with the school board and its Ward 8 representative. I will host ward meetings with the Ward 8 school board member

Q. What is your position on key votes in which a board member may have a conflict of interest – in particular, in reference to the recent vote in which board members had family members who were part of the union which had a contract up for approval? Under what circumstances would you recuse yourself from a vote?

My position is simple. I will abide by the charter, and recuse myself from any vote that affects an immediate family member. I believe we should avoid this situation all together by simply passing over any board member who may have a conflict during a vote.

Q. What are the top three priorities in your ward that you would advocate for, if elected?

  • I would advocate for improving our streets, walkways, parks, and neighborhoods.
  • I would advocate for making our neighborhoods safer by supporting the police. I will work with the police to find creative ways for them to spend more time patrolling and protecting the streets.
  • I would advocate for improving our schools by encouraging our school board to make decisions that are in the best interests of our students.

Q. What do you view as the top three priorities for the city in the coming years and how will you advocate for addressing them?

  • First, the city must work to solve the drug crisis. The crisis is so far-reaching that it affects every department and keeps Manchester from advancing into the future. The city’s police, fire, first responders, and health care professionals have done an exceptional job responding to the crisis and working to solve it. We should continue to promote the Safe Station program, and at the same time promote prevention. We need to provide more education to our student population on the issue, and encourage more collaboration with medical professionals.
  • Secondly, we need to market ourselves better as a city and attract more businesses to the city. Manchester has so much to offer, and has become the technology hub of the North. We should help the technology sector grow by expanding the fiber optic network. This will bring more jobs and more tax revenue to the city.
  • Third, we need to do all of this while practicing responsible spending. If we continue to override the tax cap and increase taxes, we make it increasingly more difficult for our seniors to stay, and attract young families struggling to get started.

Q.  How would you propose the city address the opioid crisis and related expense to the city incurred by out-of-state clients using Safe Station?

As I stated before, the drug crisis is the number one issue that needs to be addressed because of the toll it takes on families affected by it, as well as the toll it takes on the city’s resources including financial and personnel. Safe Station is a model program that has been adopted by other cities and towns around the state. We should request more help from the state and federal government to offset the cost.

Q. How would you propose the city address panhandling, given the recent federal court ruling on the existing ordinance, deemed unconstitutional?

We should identify medians around the city that can be milled down to discourage pan handlers from using them. Without a median, police are able to arrest them for standing in the street.

Q. What is your vision for the immediate and long-term future of the city that would do the most to improve quality of life for residents?

My vision for the immediate future of the city is to move away from an Elm St. focused mind-set, and invest in the many small but vibrant neighborhoods around the city. We should bring together local businesses and community leaders in order to promote development of neighborhood stores, shops, and restaurants. In the long-term, after we develop niche communities, we should come back to the downtown and develop the riverfront. We have a beautiful yet underutilized natural resource flowing through the heart of the city. We need to find a convenient and accessible way to connect Elm St. to the river front.

We were fortunate enough to find a home in Ward 8 that we loved and could afford, but finding affordable housing for a young family in the city is difficult in today’s market. Add on top of that rising taxes, and the problem becomes even more difficult. We need to keep taxes low, and find areas in the city to build more houses that are affordable for the first time home buyer. A stronger school system will also attract young families. I will communicate with the school board and encourage them to look for new solutions to improve the quality of education.

Q. How would you suggest the city be more welcoming to young families and businesses?

Better performing schools will help to attract more businesses to the city because their employees will want to move here. We can provide tax incentives to businesses that move here, and set up a welcome plan for new businesses as a guide to life in Manchester. We should also send an ambassador to businesses in surrounding states to encourage them to move to Manchester.


WARD 8 BOARD OF ALDERMEN

Betsi Devries

Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically to your ward?

I am retired and able to be a full time Alderman for Ward 8. This makes it very easy to promptly respond to issues in person or on the phone. This is the best way for Alderman to address specific issues. I like to utilize the wonderful asset of MCTV to cover policy issues and also hope to utilize social media like Facebook to both make myself available to constituents and keep them updated on what’s going on at City Hall.

Q. What is your position on the city’s Tax Cap?

I will review budgets carefully to find ways to work within the limits of the tax cap. I live on a fixed income and understand that housing and taxes must be affordable, I will not jeopardize public safety and will maintain essential services.

Q. How can the BOA work more seamlessly with the Board of School Committee going forward?

I never had issues working with the BOSC in the past and I cannot imagine having issues going forward. In the past all members were always open and available to questions, comments and coordination whether working on budgets or specific issues. As with all issues I look forward to any and all suggestions that would make Government more functional and responsive to the public.

Q. What is your position on key votes in which a board member may have a conflict of interest – in particular, in reference to the recent vote in which board members had family members who were part of the union which had a contract up for approval?

There has always been a disclosure of financial interests and conflicts of interest. You should not be voting on any contract that you personally benefit from. The focus and intent was to prevent monies from personally benefitting an elected official. The same is true for contracts that the City enters into. There should not be a personal financial benefit from Business Contracts, or business negotiations. The Charter seems to need to be clarified and tightened to better define financial interests.  

Q. Under what circumstances would you recuse yourself from a vote?

If I have a conflict of interest.

Q. What are the top three priorities in your ward that you would advocate for, if elected?

  1. Getting police into our neighborhoods and on our roads to control speeds and deter crime.
  2. Assuring that our children’s education meets our expectations.
  3. Finding grants to continue the Rails to Trails and walkable neighborhood plan.

Q. What do you view as the top three priorities for the city in the coming years and how will you advocate for addressing them?

  • Controlling tax increases by strict and thoughtful budgeting practices,
  • Attracting new industry and business opportunities by having the trained Workforce and type of Community that catches the eye and meets the vision of businesses with Higher Education Opportunities and Recreational Outlets.
  • Educating a trained Workforce that matches the needs of Business and Job Opportunities. Attracting more Private/Public Initiatives in our Schools.

Q.  How would you propose the city address the opioid crisis and related expense to the city incurred by out-of-state clients using Safe Station?

There’s no easy answer when it comes to the opioid crisis, but the city needs to ensure we have a comprehensive approach to the crisis—from supporting our law enforcement and first responders on the front lines of the crisis to ensuring there are treatment and recovery options for those struggling with addiction and to prevention efforts. I am concerned that the State is not allocating funds that reflect the number of non-resident patients that pass through our programs. They need to step up and assist the taxpayers of Manchester.

Q. How would you propose the city address panhandling, given the recent federal court ruling on the existing ordinance, deemed unconstitutional?

The first effort is to make more Citizens aware that they are contributing to the greater problem of drug addiction by giving to these folks. Pan handling on our streets is dangerous and needs to stop. Folks can contribute directly to non-profits and achieve better outcomes.

Q. What is your vision for the immediate and long-term future of the city that would do the most to improve quality of life for residents?

My vision is contained in the answers to questions 6 and 7 above. Attracting industries and business that bring with them good paying jobs and advancement opportunities. Educating our work force to best take advantage of these jobs. Assuring students reach their full potential. Making Manchester a more walkable/rideable City to connect our neighborhoods and keep our children and Citizens safe. Doing our part to keep neighborhoods maintained and tidy with streets without potholes and curbing’s without weeds.

Q. How would you suggest the city be more welcoming to young families and businesses?

Manchester is working hard to attract young workers and families already. The new housing opening up downtown will assist with reaching the critical mass needed for new stores to open downtown. Bicycle Ride Shares and College Campuses are helping to spring board our downtown into a fun and lively place to live, eat and enjoy. In our neighborhoods the needs are different as we need to have affordable starter homes in safe neighborhoods and Schools that parents feel are great not just adequate. Taxes are a part of the affordable equation.


WARD 8 SCHOOL COMMITTEE (INCUMBENT)

Erika Conners

Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically, to your ward?

One of the biggest challenges of being a board member is connecting with ALL constituents.  As the owner of a summer camp for children, a coach, and school volunteer, I have the opportunity to interact with parents, children, and families on a regular basis.  I am also available to constituents via phone or email at any time to discuss matters.  This term, I began a Ward 8 sounding board, via email, but I have found that it has a very short reach.  This term, I have also found social media to be a very negative tool for interacting with people in Ward 8.  Tone of voice cannot be heard in the written word, and people say things that they would never say directly to one another.  I think people often forget that those on the other side of the keyboard are people too.  This term, I would like to work directly with the elected alderman to set up regular times, at a local coffee shop, where any constituent can stop by and speak directly to us.  I would also like to start Ward meetings with our elected alderman, which is not something I have done before, but that I think could be beneficial. 

Q. What do you consider the greatest strength of Manchester School District?

The greatest strength of the Manchester School District are the people within it.  We have some amazing teachers in our schools that are truly dedicated to educating the children of Manchester.  We also have a diversity of students, each with unique perspectives, skill sets, and bodies of knowledge.

Q. What is the one area in need of most improvement within the school district?

It is very difficult to focus on just one thing, but we need to begin by electing a board that is ready and willing to work together and to focus on student achievement.  From there, I would like to see our board develop a blueprint for the district that re-envisions our entire educational system for today’s world and will attract young families to the City of Manchester.  We have some bright spots in our educational system, but they are not wide-spread.  I would like to see us examine the data and fully re-envision our system.  From there, we can work to successfully re-district our schools to meet this model, reduce class sizes, and focus on improving student achievement.

Q. How would you rate Superintendent Bolgen Vargas after his first year as superintendent, and why?

I have had wonderful interactions with Superintendent Vargas and have been working with him to develop a plan for educating our board areas of importance such as Title 1 Funding, Special Education Law, and Competency Based Learning.  I have attended a number of his Coffee and Conversation events and am very happy to see that he is listening to our parents, students, and teachers in order to effectively make change.  I am a bit concerned over the number of individuals who have left the district office staff since the hiring of Dr. Vargas, but look forward to seeing his plans to fill those positions with strong leaders.

Q. What is your position on redistricting, and what ideas will you bring to the conversation if elected?

I recently wrote an op-ed for the Union Leader on this very topic.  I do believe our district is still in need of redistricting, but I do not believe we can be successful if we continue to go about it in the same way.  We cannot simply move the lines at the elementary level, because classes are at or near capacity at all of our elementary schools.  At the high school level, we are continuing to see our students lose out on valuable opportunities in academics, sports, and extracurriculars, because our high schools do not have the same numbers to support those.  I strongly believe that we need to begin by re-envisioning our district and develop a plan for what we would like our district to look like.  From there, we should develop a redistricting plan that focuses on student achievement and works to meet that vision. 

Q. What is your position on how the school currently handles special education and students who are bussed out of district for services? Is there another way you’d like to see the district handle this area of need to reduce spending and improve outcomes for students?

As a unit, our school board does not have a strong understanding of special education, or special education law.  This is a very complex field that requires a great deal of expertise.  The position of Special Ed. Director, is currently vacant.  I would like to see Dr. Vargas bring forward a strong leader to fill this position.  I would also like to see that individual educate our board on the very best methods for implementing student services and for improving educational outcomes.

Q. What fresh ideas do you have to elevate Manchester School District’s perception outside of Manchester?

I believe that in order to attract families to Manchester, improve our economy, and reduce crime, we need to make education our #1 priority in Manchester.  I believe we need to work together to set goals for our district and refocus our board on improving student achievement.  The Manchester School District has some amazing pockets of innovation and improved student achievement, but they are not wide spread.  We need to bring the focus of our city government and citizens to that of education.  If we are successful in doing so, we will draw the attention of people inside and outside of Manchester with our improved record of student achievement.  

Q. What is your opinion of the district’s current math curriculum?

The school board goal of developing a unified math curriculum came out of a concern by many parents that there was not a set elementary math textbook or set of specific worksheets or lessons to follow.  When our schools were using Everyday Math, there was a specific set of materials.  A few years back, we decided to explore other programs and to allow elementary schools to pilot the programs they wished.  Since then, we have not been using a unified program.  That is not to say, however, that we do not have a curriculum or standards.  What this comes down to, is people not understanding standards, programs, curriculums, and courses as well as a reliance by parents on the way they were taught.  I voted for this goal so that we could have those discussions and so the board and public could be educated on these things.  I would like to hear directly from our elementary teachers as well as our middle school and high school math teachers on this subject.

Q. Should Manchester initiate a gifted and talented curriculum?

Manchester needs to provide opportunities for all of its students.  Each and every one of our students has individual strengths and weaknesses.  We need to challenge each and every one of them, so that they can find their passions and be successful.  Unfortunately, we see many of our brightest students leaving the district, because they feel that their needs are not being met.  By fully re-envisioning our district, I believe that we can create a school district that challenges each and every one of our students.  In doing so, we may choose to initiate a gifted and talented curriculum or create other means to challenge our students through differentiated instruction.

Q. How should the district improve outreach to all students prior to graduation to make sure that they are aware of options including tech school, internships, college prep and for-credit courses, community college, AmeriCorps, and other ways to reduce their post-high school debt while improving their occupational outcomes?

One area in which our district is lacking, is in college and career counseling.  Our guidance counselors have very large caseloads that focus on the social and emotional needs of our students.  I believe we need to have dedicated college and career counselors.  These counselors should have a set curriculum and plan for meeting with students and helping them to make decisions that best suit their strengths and interests.  In addition, we need to make sure that all of our students have not made choices that limit their options down the road. Even if a student chooses a path, other than college, he should graduate with all of the courses necessary for him to gain college acceptance, if he chooses to apply at a later date. 


WARD 8 SCHOOL COMMITTEE

Jimmy Lehoux

Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically, to your ward?

  • I will hold a quarterly get together for constituents to discuss their concerns or praise for what is going on in the ward. I will also make myself available to any PTG group in the ward to discuss parental involvement issues and how we as a district can better improve.
  • About a year in half ago, in an effort to bring awareness to the ward 8 community I started the “Manchester Ward 8 News and Views” on FB. Since it has started it has been a tremendous success and many other wards have followed suite.
  • Of course I will always be available by phone or email.

Q. What do you consider the greatest strength of Manchester School District?

Its teachers and administration. I am currently the president of the Southside PTG and the ideas and enthusiasm I see coming out of that school is nothing short of amazing. Many teachers and administrators are fully engaged in the child’s learning and I will support policies that remove the red tape and let these teachers do what they do best. Teach!

Q. What is the one area in need of most improvement within the school district?

Transparency with parents. We need to create an atmosphere where parents become the partners in the learning process. It should not be point to point. It should be a triangle. The triangle being the teacher, student and the parent.

We can also use technology to our advantage when communicating to the parents. We currently have many forms of this and are usually found by the teachers. As a district we should have a central platform where teachers and parents can communicate, so the communication stays consistent throughout the student’s entire education and the parent does not need to relearn a new platform or tool from year to year.

Q. How would you rate Superintendent Bolgen Vargas after his first year as superintendent, and why?

I think Dr. Vargas is doing a good job. Handed the cards he was dealt was not an easy situation to come into. Having a fresh set of eyes and ears come in from another district was smart. There are no ties to any allegiances and he did not know any of the players.

I also think his effort to bring more private business into our student’s education is great and I suspect a lot more of that will be reality in the future.

Q. What is your position on redistricting, and what ideas will you bring to the conversation if elected?

I think redistricting needs to be done to address our very limited resource and put those resources where they need to be.

I also think as part of the facilities study we should be looking at one new city wide high school. This does not mean I am in favor but, with over 50 million dollars in projects and repairs on our current buildings, would we be saving anything in the long run in energy cost, repair cost, centralizing resources, administrative cost. With these saving could we be adding more programs? Would it make it easier to partner with the private sector where every student would have an opportunity to participate not just the one school the program may be in now. Manchester is in the mists of a technological boom and we have schools that do not reflect that. The study would need to come back with some hard evidence that it would be a good fiscal move in the long run and not just emotional.

Q. What is your position on how the school currently handles special education and students who are bussed out of district for services? Is there another way you’d like to see the district handle this area of need to reduce spending and improve outcomes for students?

I am not well versed in this area and the laws are always evolving. I look forward to speaking with parents, teachers and admin on what ideas they see would benefit the student most in the end.

Q. What fresh ideas do you have to elevate Manchester School District’s perception outside of Manchester?

I believe Manchester should and could take the lead in promoting career opportunities to our students. Currently our system is geared toward students with the assumption they will be attending four year college. We should educate our students for life whether that be career opportunities as well as four year college. There is plenty of room for both. Our schools should reflect our community and we should continue the partnerships with private business for financial and professional resources.

Q. What is your opinion of the district’s current math curriculum?

While I go door to door discussing school issues with voters this topic always comes up. It is horrible and needs to be revamped. The process is which it was brought into our district is questionable at best and we should be looking to replace it sooner than later.

Q. Should Manchester initiate a gifted and talented curriculum?

Any program that is geared toward the student I am for. We should be a multifaceted district not a one size fits all. We are seeing great results in those pockets that teach competency and accelerated learning. The student should be challenged at all times and it is proven that the child will be more engaged in their learning if they are.

Q. How should the district improve outreach to all students prior to graduation to make sure that they are aware of options including tech school, internships, college prep and for-credit courses, community college, AmeriCorps, and other ways to reduce their post-high school debt while improving their occupational outcomes?

I think we should be starting the discussion as young as 7th These are very formidable years to these students and we should be starting to show them what great opportunities the outside world has to offer. By the time they reach high school they may have an idea of the direction they would like to take. We as a district should support the child in whatever they want to pursue. Through the basics of learning and mastering the soft skills, the hard skills can be taught as the student progresses along.

I also think, along with college fairs in our schools we should have career opportunity fairs where a business can come in and see and hear from the student that will soon be graduating. Whether they go onto 4 year college or choose a Career or volunteer opportunity, if the student is doing what they want to do and we prepared them for it then we have great reasons to celebrate our school district and its achievements.

 


Ward 9 BOARD OF ALDERMAN (INCUMBENT)

Barbara Shaw

Age 75

Retired teacher/administrator

SKILLS: As part of my career, I was required to develop budgets, work on developing efficiencies and finding best practices in operations. Working well with people, finding compromise and working in everyone’s best interest was always my strong point. As a State Rep for 18 years, a member of the Hillsborough County Executive Board (again, developing the county budget, finding efficiencies, keeping taxes in check, finding balance among the entities) and Alderman for 8 years, I have the experience and the feedback from my residents to continue to be the Alderman who works for them.

Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically to your ward?

My residents know I answer all calls (6264681) and emails (beshaw3@comcast.net) I work
with neighborhood groups . Ward 9 has a Facebook page, Manchester Ward 9 News where I can be reached, as well as Barbara Cartier Shaw on FB. Last but not least, personal contact. I make my rounds and talk to people on a regularly for feedback.

Q. What is your position on the city’s Tax Cap?

I respect and will abide by the tax cap and its ability to keep taxes in check.

Q. How can the BOA work more seamlessly with the Board of School Committee going forward?

The school board develops policy, we provide funding. It is their job to provide us with the information necessary to adequately fund their operations but still remain frugal and within the tax cap. We should work collaboratively with them in the best interest of the students to provide continued quality education and a safe, nurturing environment in our schools.

Q. What is your position on key votes in which a board member may have a conflict of interest – in particular, in reference to the recent vote in which board members had family members who were part of the union which had a contract up for approval? Under what circumstances would you recuse yourself from a vote?

As long as the language of that section of the charter remains unchanged, I will not vote for a contract that involves a family member. I thoroughly researched, analyzed and sought legal opinion prior to making my decision to vote for the teachers’ contract. I publicly stated my reasoning more than once that my decision was based on the $4 M in savings to the city which never materialized through no fault of the schools or the city. The state downshifted almost $4M in retirement costs and school aid.

Q. What are the top three priorities in your ward that you would advocate for,  if elected?

More police enforcement, keeping Engine 9 Fire House open, and a splash park in the southend for the kids…..and much more! Of course, stable taxes is top priority.

Q. What do you view as the top three priorities for the city in the coming years and how will you advocate for addressing them?

Expanding our police force to better provide service to outlying areas; more emphasis on opioid prevention in kids, teens, and young adults and getting tougher on repeat OD’s, dealers and users and predators who push drug use; Provide for consistency and equality in every school throughout the city to maintain quality education.

Q. How would you propose the city address the opioid crisis and related expense to the city incurred by out-of-state clients using Safe Station?

I am unaware of any law that would prevent developing a billing system to the resident community. Morally, we cannot turn people away; however, it is not Manchester’s duty to support other towns unless we receive state funding to cover those communities whose residents come here for help. I think this should be the topic of a state forum to decide this crucial piece of the opioid crisis.

Q. How would you propose the city address panhandling, given the recent federal court ruling on the existing ordinance, deemed unconstitutional?

They don’t bother me on roadsides, but on private property like gas stations, I think it should be considered loitering. Your people who just get their licenses or older people can be intimidated by some of these people and fear for their safety. I think that private property can be enforced.

Q. What is your vision for the immediate and long-term future of the city that would do the most to improve quality of life for residents and be more welcoming to businesses and families?

Enhance the safety and beautification of the city. New businesses, consistency in all schools to continue our quality education, more community involvement in city activities and schools, and enhanced use of alternative forms of transportation around the city,

Market what we have to offer, reach out to new business looking to relocate or establish, and utilize resources to the fullest. Develop more areas of the city for recreation and relaxation, and promote our schools and educational opportunities encouraging young families to live, work and play here. Keep a check on taxes.


Ward 9 BOARD OF ALDERMAN 

James Burkush

Age: 57

Retired Manchester Fire Chief

Hooksett Fire Chief

Proven Leadership Abilities, extensive municipal budget experience, accessibility and good listening skills.

These skills, combined with a desire to work hard for the voters of Ward 9 and the City.

Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically to your ward?

Accessible through e-mail, phone and social media sites (Ward 9 news, etc).

Q. What is your position on the city’s Tax Cap?

All fiscal decisions should be made while respecting the Tax Cap. I Would override to maintain essential services, Taxpayers want full value for their dollar, not less services.

Q. How can the BOA work more seamlessly with the Board of School Committee going forward?

Leadership starts from the top; the Mayor must ensure both boards work together for the common goals.

Q. What is your position on key votes in which a board member may have a conflict of interest – in particular, in reference to the recent vote in which board members had family members who were part of the union which had a contract up for approval? Under what circumstances would you recuse yourself from a vote?

I have stated that unless the Charter is revised, I would not vote on the Firefighters’ contract as my son is a firefighter.

Q. What are the top three priorities in your ward that you would advocate for,  if elected?

As I walked the Ward and met the residents, they want low taxes , quality education and  services, and responsive representation. As I stated above, I feel I have the skills and desire to work for these goals.

Q. What do you view as the top three priorities for the city in the coming years and how will you advocate for addressing them?

Maintaining our services while keeping our taxes low, the drug crisis and moving our City forward. I believe we need to work hard together as a City, rather than push forward personal agendas.

Q. How would you propose the city address the opioid crisis and related expense to the city incurred by out-of-state clients using Safe Station?

As we know, about 65 percent of the Safe-Station clients are from out-of-town. The State must provide more assistance and direction. We must educate our youth as soon as practical.  

Q. How would you propose the city address panhandling, given the recent federal court ruling on the existing ordinance, deemed unconstitutional?

Unfortunately, as long as we continue to donate to the pan-handlers, they will stay.

Q. What is your vision for the immediate and long-term future of the city that would do the most to improve quality of life for residents, and make the city more welcoming for families and businesses?

We should  develop a vision and perception of our City as a vibrant well managed community. We should emphasize our strengths and acknowledge our weaknesses; working hard to always improve our  City.

Quality Education attracts young families and can provide skilled workers for high-tech companies looking to locate in Manchester.


WARD 9 SCHOOL BOARD – Uncontested

Arthur Beaudry, incumbent

Manchester Public Television

Arthur Beaudry for School Committee / Ward 9


Ward 10 BOARD OF ALDERMAN (INCUMBENT)

Bill Barry

58
Ward 10
Law Enforcement
 
Skills: I have spent the past 40 years volunteering in our community. As an Alderman, it is important that you are available to answer concerns that the residents have. I have answered over 2000 emails and phone calls. I will continue this effort when I am elected on Tuesday.
 
Why should voters choose you over your opponent? I have a proven record at City Hall. We have had many roads reconstructed and paved. We have a school that was recently named the Best Elementary School in NH. I have worked with our first responders to make sure that the trouble spots in Ward 10 are constantly patrolled. 
 
Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically to your ward?
 
I have answered over 2,000 phone calls and emails. I will continue this effort when I am elected on November 7
 
Q. What is your position on the city’s Tax Cap?
 
I have always done my best to keep our taxes as low as possible. I am proud of the fact that our tax rate has gone down the past two years and it looks like it will remain the same this year. The only year (In my 4 years as Alderman) our tax rate went up was in 2014 when the Aldermen supported Mayor Gatsas when he told us that he would support overriding the tax cap as long as it was less than 4 percent.
 
Q. How can the BOA work more seamlessly with the Board of School Committee going forward?
 
I made a commitment back in 2013 with our Ward 10 School Board member that I would work with him on school issues. He told me that I was the first Alderman in 4 years that reached out to him. I am also on the joint committee of three Aldermen and three School Board members. We are working together to make sure that our children get the best education possible. 
 
Q. What is your position on key votes in which a board member may have a conflict of interest – in particular, in reference to the recent vote in which board members had family members who were part of the union which had a contract up for approval? Under what circumstances would you recuse yourself from a vote?
 
It is important that our charter is clear. I will abide by the charter if I feel that I am in violation or if I feel someone else is.
 
Q. What are the top three priorities in your ward that you would advocate for,  if elected?
 
Crime, education and roads are biggest issues that we are facing in Ward 10. I have worked very hard on the crime issues. We have added 35 more police officers to our streets. Crime has dropped. I have worked very hard with the staff at Parker Varney. They have come a long way in the past four years. We have had many roads reconstructed and paved in our Ward. There are more roads that I have concern with and I am in contact with our city officials to make sure that these roads are considered in the future.  
 
Q. What do you view as the top three priorities for the city in the coming years and how will you advocate for addressing them? 
 
Same as above. I will also include economic development. We need to attract business to our city. The only way that we can do that is if we work on our crime issues and improve our schools.
 
Q. How would you propose the city address the opioid crisis and related expense to the city incurred by out-of-state clients using Safe Station?
 
I have worked very hard on the opioid issue. I am the chairman of the committee on Alcohol, Other Drugs and Youth Services. We need to makes sure that we receive proper funding from our state and federal government. Manchester is a magnet for other communities to send their residents. We have treatment centers and other facilities in our city that people come here to receive assistance. It is not fair to burden our tax payers with funding when are doing so much for people from outside of our city.
 
Q. How would you propose the city address panhandling, given the recent federal court ruling on the existing ordinance, deemed unconstitutional?
 
People need to be educated about the reasons that some of our panhandlers are asking for money. It is a difficult situation for everyone. Manchester has always been a giving community.
 
Q. What is your vision for the immediate and long-term future of the city that would do the most to improve quality of life for residents?
 
It is so important that we continue to work very hard to make our city more attractive. Again, crime and education are so important to moving our city forward. We have the best law enforcement agency in the state. We need to make sure that they are properly funded in the future. I am confident that we are on the right track with our schools.
 
Q. How would you suggest the city be more welcoming to young families and businesses?
 
We need to be more business friendly. It is important that the city does everything possible to work with businesses and make it easier for them to be part of our community.
 

WARD 10 BOARD OF ALDERMEN 

Tammy Simmons

Age: 53

Occupation: Office Manager, J&R Langley Co.

Q. What best qualifies you (experience, background) to hold this office and represent the residents of your ward?

I have a wide range of professional experience including managing my own small business – managing employees, meeting the needs of customers, and maintaining a positive revenue stream. This is not unlike being an alderman where I would need to work with city departments, meet the needs of constituents, and being sure we as a city are not spending more than we should.  I currently manage a long-time local business where I can see first hand how Manchester’s policies and tax increases impact the bottom line – and as a result its employees and its customers.  I have served as State Representative for two terms where to be effective requires working together with people of differing views.   I served on the Mayor’s Task Force on Efficiencies and Consolidations. I helped build Manchester’s first dog park with volunteers and donations – not tax dollars as I felt that it was important that only the people using the park should pay for the park.

Why should voters choose you over your opponent?

I think my background is more inline with the majority of Ward 10 residents.  I don’t live off a government pension;  I have always been self-employed or worked for a small business.  I know first hand how difficult it can be to make ends meet – much like many of my neighbors. I chose Ward 10 twenty years ago when I purchased my first home on Parker Street . Dan and I chose it again this year when we purchased our home on Varney Street. In 2008, after years of spending and tax increases, I coordinated the collection of thousands of signatures to allow you, the people, to vote to keep the growth of spending and taxes to the rate of inflation or less.  I love meeting and talking with people and then working with them on issues.

Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically to your ward?

I will be available to my constituents in any way they need me to be.  They could call me, email me, send me a message on social media, or knock on my door.  I will hold regular ward meetings so that we, as a community, can discuss issues and work together to find solutions.  I also plan to walk the neighborhoods when it’s not election season. I think it is important that an alderman be proactive on behalf of the ward – not wait for a resident’s complaint to take action.

Q. What is your position on the city’s Tax Cap?

I spent the summer of 2008 collecting signatures to get the cap on the ballot.  Despite a year of delays and a lawsuit, the voters approved the cap in 2009.  The cap includes an override provision and I would only vote to override in a true emergency, not simply to make the budget process easier. Our families have to live within their means and prioritize spending based on what we can afford. We should expect nothing less from the City.  Spending or tax growth within the rate of inflation should be adequate.

Q. How can the BOA work more seamlessly with the Board of School Committee going forward?

The people elect a school committee to manage the schools – I think we need to let the school committee manage the schools. Ultimately, the Board of Aldermen approve the budget for the schools, so they should be kept aware of what is happening in the schools and how the money allocated to them is being spent. Transparency could help with this – not only for the Aldermen but for the taxpayers.  With such a large portion of our property taxes going to fund education, it would be good for all stakeholders to see where the money is being spent.

Q. What is your position on key votes in which a board member may have a conflict of interest – in particular, in reference to the recent vote in which board members had family members who were part of the union which had a contract up for approval? Under what circumstances would you recuse yourself from a vote?

The aldermen who voted for raises for their immediate family members violated the City Charter. It’s unfortunate that ‘conflict of interest’ even has to be spelled out in the Charter, and even more unfortunate that Aldermen violated it and then more Aldermen voted to sweep these indiscretions under the rug.

I have no family members who work for the city or for any business I would expect to enter into a contract with the city.  If there were any discussions or votes where I or my family could benefit financially, I would simply recuse myself.  It’s not that complicated to know when that should happen.

Q. What are the top three priorities in your ward that you would advocate for, if elected?

  • Keep taxes in check. This will require prioritizing spending and finding efficiencies.
  • Insuring that Ward 10, and West Manchester in general, gets the appropriate amount of police coverage.
  • Better maintenance and improvements to our sidewalks, roads and parks.  This might mean partnering with private groups and businesses in order to keep costs lower.

Q. What do you view as the top three priorities for the city in the coming years and how will you advocate for addressing them?

  • Economic Development – We need to not only attract new business to Manchester, we need to get out of their way when they decide to establish or grow here. Too many business have said that the city’s regulations and processes make running a business here difficult. We need to find ways to make it easier for business, not more difficult. Business growth leads to more jobs here in our community and increases in commercial tax revenue helps keep residential property taxes lower.
  •  Improving access to treatment for those seeking help with addiction.  In order to end the supply of heroin or opioids, we must end the demand for such.  We cannot arrest our way out of this crisis.  We need to educate our youth on the subject and provide our first responders the tools they need to address this crisis.
  • Involving more of our community in our community.  This might sound like a frivolous ‘priority’ but much can be improved when neighbors know each other, when the city and its residents communicate with each other better, and we as a community work with each other on finding the best solutions to problems.

Q. How would you propose the city address the opioid crisis and related expense to the city incurred by out-of-state clients using Safe Station?

The drug epidemic is not limited to only Manchester but those seeking help migrate here because we have a variety of services available here. City leaders need to continue to work with Governor Sununu and the state legislature on funding the services administered in Manchester to non-Manchester residents.

Q. How would you propose the city address panhandling, given the recent federal court ruling on the existing ordinance, deemed unconstitutional?

The best thing we can do is educate our community about how to best help those less fortunate by donating to organizations who can effectively help those in need. Signs at intersection are a good start.

Q. What is your vision for the immediate and long-term future of the city that would do the most to improve quality of life for residents?

We need to improve Manchester’s image.  We have a beautiful city with a plethora of assets.  We should build on those assets, including working with Manchester Connects on the riverfront and millyard areas, creating private/public partnerships to improve our parks and green spaces, and building a better sense of community in our city.  All of these things – combined with economic development – will increase QOL for Manchester’s residents.  This and keeping property taxes low.

Q. How would you suggest the city be more welcoming to young families and businesses?

Make living here affordable.  This means keeping taxes in check.  Make it easy to start and expand a business here. This reducing red tape for business or for a homeowner wanting to improve their property.


WARD 10 SCHOOL COMMITTEE (INCUMBENT)

John Avard

Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically, to your ward? 

As long as I have been on the BOSC I have gone the extra mile to improve transparency and communication between the board and the public. My phone number, my email and my address are publicly available, and I have created the Manchester (NH) School Chat page on Facebook as a discussion forum regarding District issues. Over the years I have hosted fifteen public forums called “Coffee with the School Board” throughout the city and I led members of the public through all of our schools on the “Look, Listen and Learn Tours.” I have been actively involved in community events, sporting events and performing arts events where educators, students and other members of the public regularly approach me to discuss issues.What do you consider the greatest strength of Manchester School District? The dedication of the administrative and teaching staff that has this District moving forward despite financial limitations and lack of resources.

Q. What is the one area in need of most improvement within the school district? 

Curriculum development in all subjects at all grade levels.

Q. How would you rate Superintendent Bolgen Vargas after his first year as superintendent, and why? 

Dr. Vargas has some creative approaches and appears to be taking the District of Manchester in an innovative direction to recreate the way we deliver education. With his choice of Amy Allen as the Assistant Superintendent of Innovation, I am optimistic about the future direction of Manchester.

Q. What is your position on redistricting, and what ideas will you bring to the conversation if elected?

We need to see the completed facility study to truly understand the best use of our facilities. At that point, I am willing to make the difficult decisions that must be made to move this District forward.

Q. What is your position on how the school currently handles special education and students who are bussed out of district for services? Is there another way you’d like to see the district handle this area of need to reduce spending and improve outcomes for students? I would prefer to see Manchester streamline the in-house process and develop programs here in Manchester to meet the needs of our students.

Q. What fresh ideas do you have to elevate Manchester School District’s perception outside of Manchester? 

It is a matter of delivery. Those who detract from Manchester have been very vocal for years and they have the public’s ear, yet the truth remains that Manchester is accomplishing great things and even greater things are coming. It will be up to us to make sure that message gets out there and that the prior perception is replaced with the truth.

Q. What is your opinion of the district’s current math curriculum? 

It is beyond time for this District to adopt a sensible math curriculum that returns prepares students with the skills they need to be successful in the future. I was one of two board members who opposed the adoption of Everyday Math and I have been outspoken against it since. The Manchester Academic Standards may no longer use Everyday Math, but neither have they returned to a sensible, complete math curriculum.

Q. Should Manchester initiate a gifted and talented curriculum? 

Absolutely

Q. How should the district improve outreach to all students prior to graduation to make sure that they are aware of options including tech school, internships, college prep and for-credit courses, community college, AmeriCorps, and other ways to reduce their post-high school debt while improving their occupational outcomes?

It comes down to communication. These programs are available to our students today, but if the students don’t know about them, they can’t take advantage. There have been many great opportunities that have been lost because of lack of planning, communication and follow through.


WARD 10 SCHOOL COMMITTEE

Thomas McGee

How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically, to your ward?

I believe that elected officials must be available to voters in a variety of ways. In addition to calling or emailing me, I’d like to maintain a Facebook page that welcomes anyone in the community to message me or see updates about whats happening in the schools. I’d also like to host open office hours from time to time to allow face to face conversation for those who prefer it. We live in an age when it is absurdly easy to communicate and I will take advantage of that at every opportunity. 

Q. What do you consider the greatest strength of Manchester School District?

I have seen extremely dedicated educators serving the students in Manchester. It was obvious the impact these professionals have on students when those same students spoke to the board to ask that their teachers not be laid off as part of budget reductions. Part of the job of the board is to ensure that these professionals are getting the resources and the support they need to prepare students for their futures. 
 
Q. What is the one area in need of most improvement within the school district?
 
I believe there are two distinct areas that I’d like to bring attention to – the ability of the board to work together and increasing the resources we have for students and teachers. I believe that both of these items are closely connected. If we are constantly at odds in political battles working together to find solutions becomes more and more difficult. The school board should be above the kind of partisan gridlock we expect from congress. 

Q. How would you rate Superintendent Bolgen Vargas after his first year as superintendent, and why?

Based on my observations as an outsider I would say that Superintendent Vargas has done well given the challenges that he faces. I have seen him out and about in the community and he has made himself visible on different media programs. However, having worked with four different superintendents I also know that the first year is an outlier. The second and third years are when the real test begins and he must not only continue to articulate a vision for MSD but begin to make progress in accomplishing his goals. 
 
Q. What is your position on redistricting, and what ideas will you bring to the conversation if elected?
 
We must approach redistricting deliberately and transparently. School assignments shouldn’t be expected to last forever- our communities constantly evolve and we must be able to reorganize our resources to address those changes. It is important that any work to redistrict schools include extensive community involvement both during the formulation of a plan and during the approval process. Any effort should also be closely tied to the development of the next strategic plan. I want to utilize community forums that engage families, educators and students in a conversation about what the future of Manchester schools should look like. 
 
Q. What is your position on how the school currently handles special education and students who are bussed out of district for services? Is there another way you’d like to see the district handle this area of need to reduce spending and improve outcomes for students?
 
Out of district special education services are a challenge for school districts across the country. I believe that it is both educationally and financially prudent to focus on building in-district services for students whenever possible. I have seen this approach lead to cost savings and better student outcomes in the long run. When programming is not feasible to offer in-house, we must ensure that those students who are sent out of district are receiving the best services possible under close scrutiny by our special education leadership. All students should receive a quality educational experience. 

Q. What fresh ideas do you have to elevate Manchester School District’s perception outside of Manchester?

Changing perceptions can be very challenging, but I think it starts by elevating the good work that is being done in the schools and finding ways to celebrate our students and teachers. The school board must begin to put aside the political battles that have come to define their work and set their sights on working together for the benefit of the children of Manchester. I would also seek to work together with the mayors office to find ways to bring back many of the communities that have decided that Manchester schools were not serving their needs. I’d like Manchester to become a shining example of how a great public school district can operate. 
 
Q. What is your opinion of the district’s current math curriculum?
 
It is critical that we give teachers the support they need to deliver a great education to students. It’s good that the district is willing to try new approaches, and I am a believer in letting teachers drive the curriculum, but the devil is in the details. It’s clear that some resources are going to be needed and that this approach to curriculum should not be used as a budget cutting method. I also believe that students should be given the same experience regardless of which school they happen to attend. Let teachers across the district build a curriculum and provide them with resources to support that.  
 
Q. Should Manchester initiate a gifted and talented curriculum?
 
Gifted and talented programs come in many shapes and sizes, I think that it is worthy of investigation to see if there is a strong interest in such a program in the community and what shape it should take. A conversation about this is exactly the kind of thing an open and participatory strategic planning process should include.
 
Q. How should the district improve outreach to all students prior to graduation to make sure that they are aware of options including tech school, internships, college prep and for-credit courses, community college, AmeriCorps, and other ways to reduce their post-high school debt while improving their occupational outcomes?
 
Today’s society places a lot of expectations on students regarding what they should or shouldn’t do after school. We need to do a better job of guiding students in finding the right post-high school education option for them. Many students go to college because they believe it is expected of them, racking up large college debt and leaving them with a degree that may be of little use. The schools must work with students and parents early in their high school career (and possibly before) to guide them to the right post-secondary school option. Whether it is any of the above or something else, the school district must provide resources and track outcomes to give those students the best start possible

WARD 11 BOARD OF ALDERMEN (INCUMBENT)

Normand Gamache


WARD 11 BOARD OF ALDERMAN

Name Russ Ouellette

Age 51

Ward 11

Occupation Assistant Service Manager Quirk Volkswagen

Skills: What best qualifies you (experience, background) to hold this office and represent the residents of your ward? My 9 years on the Board of School Committee and my 5 years as Alderman representing ward 11 give me great prospective when representing the residents of my ward. I have also served on the board of directors on the Manchester Police Athletic League; and most recently serving as past president of the Rimmon Heights Neighborhood Group. For BOA candidates:

Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically to your ward? 

As alderman, I will communicate by returning EVERY phone call, EVERY email. I will also make myself available on social media. I will attend meetings of the Rimmon Heights Neighborhood Group to listen to concerns and give information of the happenings of city government.

Q.. What is your position on the city’s Tax Cap?

I will only vote to override the voter imposed tax cap in the instance of a true emergency that is unforeseen during the budget process. Overriding the tax cap to fund irresponsible labor contracts is not what the intention of the voters who voted for the referendum, which overwhelmingly passed.

Q. How can the BOA work more seamlessly with the Board of School Committee going forward? 

I have had the privilege of serving on both boards. I believe there needs to be more mutual respect between both boards. I think we should have joint meetings of the boards twice a year to have dialogue to ensure we work together to the benefit of our students.

Q. What is your position on key votes in which a board member may have a conflict of interest – in particular, in reference to the recent vote in which board members had family members who were part of the union which had a contract up for approval? 

When I served on the school board, I served with John Gatsas. John’s wife was a teacher at Northwest Elementary School at the time when he served. I can tell you that whenever a teacher’s contract came up for vote John abstained from voting, because he had a direct conflict of the city charter. The charter is crystal clear when defining conflicts of interest, my opponent not only once but twice voted on contracts after receiving advise from the city solicitor that he would be in violation of the charter. We need to have trust in our public officials to uphold their sworn duty to protect the city charter. We need to put forth a charter amendment to clearly define a consequence for violating the charter for personal gain.

Q. Under what circumstances would you recuse yourself from a vote? 

Every time a conflict exists. I have no family members that are employees of the city.

Q. What are the top three priorities in your ward that you would advocate for, if elected? 

1. Taxes, especially those on fixed income. This current board overrides the tax cap likes it’s a sport. We must learn to live within our means. 

2. Public safety / opioid epidemic. We must go after federal dollars to funnel money to treatment providers. 

3. Public trust in our elected officials. Residents are very concerned over votes taken where family members benefit

Q. What do you view as the top three priorities for the city in the coming years and how will you advocate for addressing them? 

1. The opioid epidemic. We need to advocate for federal dollars to our treatment providers so they can treat whoever is seeking recovery. 

2. Labor contracts and Yarger-Decker pay matrix. This issue is bankrupting the city. We need to come up with a fair matrix that benefits both employees and taxpayers 

3. Support the downtown millyard to attract high tech jobs to Manchester.

Q. How would you propose the city address the opioid crisis and related expense to the city incurred by out-of-state clients using Safe Station?

We cannot turn anyone away who seeks recovery. Police still respond to calls when out of state residents need police assistance, fire fighters respond to calls when out of state residents need assistance. This is a public safety issue regardless where you live.

Q. How would you propose the city address panhandling, given the recent federal court ruling on the existing ordinance, deemed unconstitutional?

We should craft legislation for our state legislators to address this issue. What is your vision for the immediate and long-term future of the city that would do the most to improve quality of life for residents? I think commuter rail from Manchester to Boston would be great for our economy and would attract business to Manchester.

Q. How would you suggest the city be more welcoming to young families and businesses?

I think we need to change the perception that our schools in Manchester are failing. We have great schools, great administrators and the best teachers in the business. We need to send that message to the rest of the region. There are great programs and excellent results in our district.


WARD 11 School Committee

Alexander Avery 

Katie Desrochers (INCUMBENT)


WARD 12 BOARD OF ALDERMEN (INCUMBENT)

Keith HIrschmann

Manchester Public Television

Keith Hirschmann for Alderman / Ward 12


WARD 12 BOARD OF ALDERMEN

Hassan Essa

Age: 20

Ward   12

Occupation: Full-time student at UNH Manchester, Fuel Systems Specialist for NH Air National Guard, and Ophthalmologic Technician for Excellent Vision in Portsmouth, NH.

What best qualifies you (experience, background) to hold this office and represent the residents of your ward?  

Empathy is at the core of leadership. You must be able to place yourself in others’ shoes in order to adequately understand and address their needs. I came to Manchester as a refugee from Kuwait in 2000. Since then, I have attended Northwest Elementary School, Parkside Middle School, and I graduated from West High School in 2015. Having been in the city’s public schools so recently and as someone who comes from an extremely diverse background, I know that I am very capable of representing the desires of Ward 12 residents and of those throughout Manchester.

Q. How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically to your ward?

Being accessible is extremely important. I encourage those that live in Ward 12 to call me at 603-290-9627 or to email me at hassanessanh@gmail.com. I do my best to respond to inquiries as quickly as possible.

Q. What is your position on the city’s Tax Cap?

I understand why Manchester voted to have a tax cap. There are many individuals who own their homes outright, and despite not having a mortgage, cannot afford the taxes. I will do all I can to ensure the city is an affordable place to live for all taxpayers without sacrificing city services. I have outlined several ways in which this can be done.

Q. How can the BOA work more seamlessly with the Board of School Committee going forward?

It is important to recognize that we are all on the same team working toward a common goal. The Manchester education system has room for significant improvement, and the more minds we have pursuing that development, the better the outcome. Working together, we can all provide the best possible education for our children through effective communication and understanding. Communication lines must be open to ensure that respectful conversations can take place. Together, we can formulate solutions that guarantee a quality education for all students.

Q. What is your position on key votes in which a board member may have a conflict of interest – in particular, in reference to the recent vote in which board members had family members who were part of the union which had a contract up for approval? Under what circumstances would you recuse yourself from a vote?

Putting the city’s best interest first is my priority. As every circumstance is different, a blanket statement here would not work. However, I would recuse myself from a vote if I or a member of my family were to be the sole beneficiaries of my decision.

Q. What are the top three priorities in your ward that you would advocate for, if elected?

The West Side of Manchester needs to be elevated and celebrated. We can rebuild a strong sense of community by hosting events centered around enjoying the different cultures we have embedded throughout the ward and city.

There is also a need for programs that positively influence our children on the West Side. There is currently an ongoing grassroots effort to build a skatepark on the West Side of Manchester. When I spoke with one of the residents leading this effort, I could sense the passion they had in pursuing this project. I have spoken with many residents who each have great ideas to improve the quality of life on the West Side. I want to overcome feats that may seem unachievable, but are accomplishable with time and effort. These efforts will change the West Side and make it an amazing place to live.

Finally, it is important to ensure that the city has adequate police officers to keep our streets safe. The city’s police do tremendous work, as I witnessed firsthand on a ride-along with Officer Matt McDonald this summer. Their job is difficult and vital to our city’s well-being, and they deserve our ongoing support.

Q. What do you view as the top three priorities for the city in the coming years and how will you advocate for addressing them?

I have stated repeatedly from the start of my campaign: We must invest in our community and infrastructure, keep Manchester safe, and support our school system. We rebuild our communities by investing in public places such as basketball courts, parks, sidewalks, and roads by actively pursuing grants and private-public partnership. We keep Manchester safe by working with our law enforcement, strengthening programs that work well, and expanding local treatments options for those suffering from addiction. Lastly, we support our school system by ensuring that schools have the adequate resources, technology, and support for teachers and students alike.

Those are the three issues I feel most passionately about and will advocate for at City Hall.

Q. How would you propose the city address the opioid crisis and related expense to the city incurred by out-of-state clients using Safe Station?

When people are in need of help, we help them. Those suffering from addiction need programs that will enable them to get better. I have advocated for Safe Station for a while now, because it is a program that works well. It allows for individuals to get their lives back on track and start living again. Safe Station’s efforts and results are well worth the resources and investment. In August, the Executive Council approved $1.2 million that will directly aid Safe Station participants. $200,000 of that was specifically given to Serenity Place in Manchester. This was an important step in maintaining Safe Station and I thank the Executive Council for approving this measure. Federal money is also being sought to help with the opioid crisis in New Hampshire. I hope that a portion of those funds find their way to those that help facilitate Safe Station.

Q. How would you propose the city address panhandling, given the recent federal court ruling on the existing ordinance, deemed unconstitutional?

Poverty is not a crime. At its base level, the ordinance was enacted to keep motorists safe. Chief Willard engaged in a lengthy discussion on NHPR’s The Exchange with other experts about panhandling a few weeks ago. I highly encourage readers to listen to that episode and learn about the complexities of this issue. Unfortunately, those struggling with addiction turn to panhandling at times and generosity turns into something that it was never intended to be. I want to help people, as do many others. How we go about helping those in need is something we should do responsibly and in a way that results in a positive outcome. Under the leadership of Chief Willard, our city continues to direct those in need of assistance to the proper resources to get back on their feet. Eliminating the need for individuals to panhandle, while leading them to achieve a greater quality of life is the best way to address the issue.

(For clarification, the signage that the city recently installed was not part of the court’s decision. I have seen this assumption made online recently. As Manchesterinklink.com stated in relation to the case the court heard, “This ordinance criminalized a person peacefully receiving a charitable contribution from a person in a motor vehicle, even if the recipient is in a public place and is not in a roadway.”)

Q. What is your vision for the immediate and long-term future of the city that would do the most to improve quality of life for residents?

The biggest idea I have been presenting to voters is the city hiring a full-time grant writer as soon as possible. This is a position that is proven to pay for itself and deliver great results. The nearby municipalities manage to take advantage of these opportunities and Manchester could definitely do the same. Over the course of a few years, the money that grants supplement can be used to make necessary investments that will further advance Manchester. I am proposing a variety of ways in which we can save money, make improvements, and cultivate a city that delivers a higher quality of life to its residents. I see great potential in Manchester and I look forward to exploring that potential. I envision a City Hall that listens, operates with respect and understanding, and works hard to generate progress for Manchester.

Q. How would you suggest the city be more welcoming to young families and businesses?

Commuter Rail is something that the state has to embrace as a whole. The future of transportation is responsible, effective, and safe. This is something I have discussed with those who serve in Concord and am actively advocating for. We need to fully link together the entire state with a system that is easy to use.

Fighting the opioid crisis is essential to improving the image of our city and attracting young families. Those who are raised in Manchester should want to stay in Manchester to raise families of their own. If our city does not have a positive reputation, young professionals will not want to raise families here. If those young professionals do not live in Manchester, businesses will not want to come to our city. We all need to take pride in Manchester and keep it clean, safe, and welcoming.

While knocking on doors, I have had great conversations with individuals who I would have never met otherwise. I am grateful for the opportunity to get to know my neighbors and those in my surrounding community. I look forward to participating in more of these conversations in the future and ask for the vote of residents of Ward 12 on Tuesday, September 19th. Thank you.


WARD 12 School COMMITTEE (INCUMBENT)

Connie Van Houten 

Age: 68

Occupation: retired educator

Skills/Experience: I taught English at Memorial High School for 36 years. There I headed the English department and coordinated and taught in the Honors Program. In addition to my certification as a teacher of English at the middle and secondary levels, after earning a master’s degree, I was certified   (K-12) in and worked in special education, and I hold a graduate certificate in gifted and talented education. I’ve taught in area colleges, in a private school, and in community programs of English as a second language for adults. My two terms on the Manchester Board of School Committee have given me valuable insights and experience, too. With 100% attendance on the full Board and all of my committees and more, I currently serve on the Curriculum & Instruction, Coordination, Athletics, and Special Education committees of the School Board and have served on Student Conduct, Buildings & Sites, Technology, OCR, Negotiations, and Hiring committees, as well. Additionally, I represent wards 10, 11, and 12 as a state representative, and I am currently working with other state representatives on legislation possibilities for teacher certification and apprenticeships and working with our superintendent on means of best bringing Manchester’s needs to the attention of our state. Also, for the second time, I have been appointed to represent NH on the NE Secondary School Consortium Council, which allows me to provide input on behalf of Manchester and to learn what is happening across New England. Finally, I am a Manchester native, a product of its public schools, and a graduate of Manchester High School West.

Communication: My cell phone number is 603.622.9701. My School Board email address is boscward12@mansd.org, and my Facebook pages are “Connie Van Houten,” “Connie Van Houten for School Board Ward 12,” and “What’s Cool in Manchester Schools.” I attend as many events in our schools as possible, and I have met with parents and community groups, even in the context of a ward meeting. I am happy to meet with individuals or groups to discuss our schools and any related issues.

Strength: The greatest strength of this district is the people. Education is, without a doubt, about and powered by people. A drive by any school after hours will show a variety of teacher and administrator cars in the parking lot; events and games are led and coached by parents, teacher volunteers, and community members, many unpaid; the community itself – businesses, civic organizations, individuals – has been generous and involved in our schools, and individual parents and parent groups have stepped up for our schools and our students time and time again. And, of course, students, with their varieties of learning styles, diversity, hopes for the future, and a host of varied attributes and needs, provide the guide for all of the groups and individuals who are involved in Manchester education in any way. There is no doubt that Manchester public schools face challenges, but our District is made greater by the many people who believe in our future and, in large or small ways, contribute to it by supporting our students.

Improvement: Long overdue is redistricting – redistricting to establish reasonable and equitable class sizes, to balance populations and staff across schools, and to support the learning of students in the twenty-first century. Teacher-student contact time is shortened, discipline issues may needlessly arise, and innovations that we see beginning in our schools, such as blended classes, project-based learning, and assessment that goes beyond pencil and paper, can be constrained without thoughtful redistricting. Class sizes need to reflect the realities of the students that we serve, not an artificial capacity number.

Dr. Vargas: Dr. Vargas is doing a good job. Among his greatest challenges has been the District’s finances. Downshifting of costs from the state to individual school districts has resulted in millions of dollars that have had to be made up at the local level, and everyday operational expenses have not gone down. He has reached out to the Board of Mayor and Alderman as partners for our schools, managed District expenses with strategic spending freezes and reductions, and looked beyond the District, for example, at ways to maximize Medicaid reimbursements. His work with the district’s finances is just one of his many contributions to our district.

Redistricting: Redistricting is certainly overdue. It shouldn’t just be a matter of shuffling students into buildings, however. Redistricting offers the District many opportunities. During the meetings held by the redistricting committee, wanting to see all options on the table, I brought forward research and several plans and plan components. One idea is the conversion of one of our high schools into a magnet school that provides its students with a solid basic education while opening other doors for them. For instance, programs in the performing arts, business, or coding or the International Baccalaureate program or apprenticeships or internships might be offerings. Embedded in every course, though, would be the general education, to include reading, writing, math, and other basics, that students need. I proposed several other ideas, as well, for example, a way to centralize our growing preschool program and open up space in elementary schools, and, if reelected, will continue to offer ideas and compromises that may best match our district with its physical plant once the facilities audit that has been commissioned is complete.

Special education: My graduate studies and my experiences in special education predispose me to want to keep students in district, in their communities, as much as possible. Bussing students out of district or placing students in residential settings may be necessary in some cases; however, as the largest district in our state, we can and do offer many in-district placement options that are better for our students and financially advantageous, as well. At one time, a suggestion to bring some outside placements into a facility in our District and to offer tuition placements to surrounding districts was made. The proposal’s concept should be revisited. Also, a full audit of all special education programs and placements would provide insights as to current and other possible means of delivery of education to provide the best student outcomes and streamline spending on special education.

Perception: As a School Board member, I crafted and currently host a radio show called “What’s Cool in Manchester Schools,” produced by Manchester Public Television, and I post podcasts of the shows on a Facebook page of the same title. Part of improving the perception of our schools is talking about the good things, people, events, and more in the Manchester School District. Yes, we have issues; we have room to grow. But so much good happens in our district every day. I’ve brought students, teachers, parents, administrators, and support and summer staff to the microphone to champion the good in our schools. I’ve also recommended two principals who ultimately received honors as principals of the year. We have had teachers, principals, and schools of the year and schools, teachers, students, and others that have won other awards and accolades, and we need to shout all of this out. Further, inviting parents, community members, and other interested parties into our schools and into conversations about them, as well as participating in and holding community events, lets the goodness of our schools shine organically. We need to celebrate the good in our schools out loud.

Gifted and talented: Having served on a committee to craft an honors program in Manchester and then coordinating and teaching in it, as well as having pursued graduate work in the area of gifted and talented education, I see several possibilities. In general, though, I prefer to avoid labels on students; students are simply multifaceted. My preference is providing educational challenge to all students and helping them to meet that challenge. For example, multi-grade classes at the elementary level foster student learning in that a student who excels in math, for instance, can be moved along, say from his first grade placement, into third grade math. Advanced Placement and honors-level courses and college classes can provide similar opportunities for older students by allowing them to pursue subjects of talent or interest in greater depth.

Outreach to students: It is critically important to provide students with information about postsecondary opportunities and options, as well as to provide them with chances to explore some of these options at the high school level. Our guidance staff needs to and does provide announcements of various opportunities to our students and brings in reputable groups and individuals to talk to students. Schools need to build and maintain contacts with colleges, the military, apprenticeship programs, and others that will help students to maximize their learning experiences in school and afterward while minimizing the costs, particularly those that will result in future student debt. Personal outreach, matching opportunities to students with possible interest, is critically important and is often accomplished by teachers who get to know their students during the course of the school year. Outreach needs to be the responsibility of everyone.


WARD 12 SCHOOL COMMITTEE

Kelly Anne Thomas

 

About Carol Robidoux 5559 Articles
Journalist and editor of ManchesterInkLink.com, a hyperlocal news and information site for Manchester, NH.