2017 Primary Voters Guide for Manchester, NH

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MANCHESTER, NH – First things first: This guide brings you some solid Q&A with a majority of candidates running for Ward Alderman and School Board. It’s important reading.

Secondly, be aware that it is not a comprehensive guide – although we did our darndest to include all the candidates appearing on the primary ballot, we fell short. We’ll be adding to this guide right down to the wire (aka Primary Election Day, Sept. 19), should we receive any more submissions.

However there are plenty of resources out there for you to find more information on the candidates. 

Additionally, we’d urge you to do your own seeking: Most of the candidates have Facebook campaign pages and/or websites. 

One last thing: We had hoped to bring you a Q&A with the three remaining mayoral candidates, incumbent Mayor Ted Gatsas, Joyce Craig and Glenn RJ Ouellette [Joshua Dallaire told ManchesterInkLink last week that due to a family emergency he was unable to mount a viable campaign and is not seeking the office of mayor]. Our questionnaire landed a little too late in their respective email boxes, it seems.

The good news: There is plentiful available information about the three candidates already out there. We’ll link to their websites and Facebook pages below to save you some Google searching.


CANDIDATES FOR MAYOR


Ted Gatsas

Website: Ted Gatsas for Mayor

Facebook: Ted Gatsas for Mayor

 

 

 


Joyce Craig

Website: JoyceCraig.org

Facebook: Joyce Craig for Manchester

 

 

 

 


Glenn RJ Ouellette

Website: ouelletteformayor.com

Facebook: Glenn RJ Ouellette

 

 

 

 


EDITOR’S NOTE: Below are candidate profiles based on a questionnaire provided by ManchesterInkLink.com. In some cases information was compiled from available resources. In other cases, no information was available.


CANDIDATES FOR ALDERMAN


Christopher Stewart

Age: 40

Ward: 1

Occupation: Small Business Owner

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

A: 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?

A: 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?

A: 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?

A: 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?

A: 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?

A: 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?

A: 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?

A: 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?

A: 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?

A: 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?

A: Better schools. Better schools. Better schools.


Jeff Nyhan

Ward 1

Director of Campus Safety (Manchester Community College)

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

It is important that the constituents of Ward 1 have access to me at any time. If an issue is bothering a person in Ward 1, I welcome their call, text or email. I also plan on holding monthly neighborhood forums so people can come and interact with me and tell me the good and the bad that is occurring in ward 1.

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

We should not override it! The city needs to look at how and where we spend our money. If there is room to make some changes and reallocate funding to places it is needed more, than we should. This needs to be done with absolutely NO LAYOFFS for city employees.

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

Communication and transparency from both sides. If the BOA and the school board know what is happening and they can see for themselves what’s going on. They can use common sense to make decisions based on facts to better the education system in Manchester.

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?

My position is that the city charter dictates those rules and we should follow the city charter.

Under what circumstances would you recuse yourself from a vote?

When the city charter dictates it or there is a conflict of interest.

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

Lower taxes, lower crime, and improve infrastructure.

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

Education: I will have open and direct conversations with members of the school board to understand how they function and how we can help. If we want young families to move to and stay in the city we need to make sure we have a strong educational system that we can provide to them.

Taxes: I will advocate for the city to not raise taxes or override the tax cap. The constituents of ward 1 need to keep our money in our pockets.

Opioid addiction: The Fire and Police departments have done a wonderful job with combating the opioid crisis, we need to continue the enforcement of illegal narcotics and continue to have a working relationship with the recovery centers.

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 needs to continue what we are doing to enforce the laws and arrest the people who are bringing these illegal narcotics into our city. Our safe station program is such a benefit to everyone who seeks the help to get into recovery. We cannot turn these people away, but we can help educate the other states on how to set up successful safe station program to benefit their communities.

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

I think the city needs to reach out to other large urban communities and see what models they may be using to address this issue. If we can’t arrest these people or write them a violation for standing in the median asking for money then we need to find alternatives to get them out of the roadways. I don’t want the first thing someone to see traveling through Manchester to be a panhandler, never mind seeing them at every major intersection. I applaud the Police Chief and the whole police department for trying to find a fix to 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?

Quality of life in the city of Manchester is important to me. We need to continue down the road of cleaning up the streets and assisting with the opioid crisis. We need to focus on building our communities and watching what is spent at city hall. We need to work hand in hand with the school board to make sure our city schools are at the top of their potential.

In the long term we need to update the master plan and create a clear vision on the direction of the city and set specific goals for the next 10 years. Planning is important so we can see what we have done and where we need to go.

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

We need to work hard to market Manchester as a family friendly community that offers a great school system and homes at affordable prices with reasonable tax rates where people can raise their family. Business should be marketed the same way, Manchester is a business friendly community and given our geographical location it would serve a business well to come to Manchester instead of entering the Massachusetts market.

 


Kevin Cavanaugh (incumbent)

Ward 1


Paul Martineau

Paul R. R. Martineau

Age: 77

Ward 2

Occupation- Elected Welfare Commissioner from 2002 to present.

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

 

  • Manchester native who graduated from Bishop Bradley H.S. 1958
  • Graduated from Wake forest College, BA 1963
  • R.O.T.C. Distinguished Military Graduate
  • Served in the U.S. ARMY 1963-1967
  • Honorable Discharge-Rank of Captain
  • Manchester Assessor 1972-1992   .
  • Hesser College-ABS Accounting 1976 & ABS Business Mgmt. 1977
  • Elected to the 1st Charter Revision Commission 1982. I served on the committee to revise and update the original City Charter which had been in existence for over 100 years.
  • Past Commander-American Legion Henry J. Sweeney Post #2

I have governmental experience in that I was an assessor for the City of Manchester for 21 years. I was in charge of the administration and budget of the Assessor’s Office. In the 21 years under my supervision we never had a budget deficit. During my 15 years as your elected Manchester Welfare Commissioner, I have reduced my Departmental Budget by $512,849.

I did not replace 2 positions in my department that became vacant, which resulted in saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in Salary and Benefits over the years.

My staff, under my leadership, has returned over 2.5 million dollars in savings of your hard-earned tax dollars back to the City Treasury.

As your Alderman I will continue to work for efficiencies in our government as well as work on the opioid crisis, neighborhood safety, education, property taxes, infra-structure and economic development.

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

I did a recent mailing in my Ward to 3,000 voters with my e-mail and cell phone number. I will be available at all times to listen to and address the concerns of my constituents.

I will have periodic Ward meetings to allow constituents to give me feedback on important issues of concern which arise.

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

I would not override the tax cap to fund salary increases for City and School District employees. The tax cap was approved by the Manchester voters on 11-8-2011. As a former elected member of the 1st City Charter review commission back in 1982, I am a strong supporter of the City Charter.

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

The BOA and the Board of School Committee should meet on a regular basis to keep abreast of the educational concerns that arise and to discuss proposed solutions.

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?

If I have a conflict of interest on a particular matter, I would recuse myself from voting.

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

If elected, my first priority would be to establish regular Ward meetings in order to hear firsthand what the concerns are of the residents of Ward 2. Two other priorities would be to work closely with the Manchester Police Dept. to ensure neighborhood safety, and that the residents are satisfied with the City services which their tax dollars pay for.

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 view the top three priorities for the City presently, and in the coming years, are achieving a stable property tax base, increased public safety, and an improved educational system.

I would vote to promote economic development,   to maintain a full complement of first responders, and to support innovative educational approaches.

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 pledge to support our first responders and the Safe Station program, along with promoting drug awareness education within our schools. I would vote to fund those agencies who deal directly with drug addiction treatment.

Since the opioid issue is now a national crisis, funds received through the Federal Government should be utilized to offset the cost of out-of-state clients using our Safe Stations.

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

I would promote the continued use of signage at panhandling locations to inform the public that they can give their money to local nonprofit organizations that help people in need. This will discourage people from giving cash money to panhandlers and encourage panhandlers to seek assistance from those agencies.

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 to concentrate on solving the challenges which we are presently dealing with, such as the opioid crisis, public safety and improving our school system. Solutions must be achieved in a fiscally responsible manner as not to be an added tax burden to Manchester taxpayers. Once these immediate problems are resolved, this will result in an improved quality of life for our residents now and in the future.

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

I propose that solving the above named problems; and promoting economic development, this would go a long way in creating a welcoming atmosphere for both families and businesses to relocate to Manchester.


Will Stewart

Ward 2

Executive Director, StayWorkPlay

Information from candidate Facebook page

One of the city’s main challenges is that of unmet potential. We have so much going for us, yet we haven’t been able to truly capitalize on that potential. 

As a result, I’m hearing from more and more families that they are considering moving out of the city, citing concerns about city schools, crime, and an overall lack of focus on the kinds of things that make a city a place people want to live.

The years I’ve spent in Manchester have given me a unique perspective on the city, its challenges, and what we might do together to address these challenges.

I’ve been a reporter at The Hippo, a community organizer at NeighborWorks Greater Manchester, and the VP of Economic Development at the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce. I also lead Bike Manchester, the Oak Park Neighborhood Watch group, and serve as a Manchester Transit Authority Commissioner and on the board of the Friends of Wagner Memorial (Pretty) Park. And I am the author of “An Insider’s Guide to Manchester.”

When it comes to the necessary vision, experience, and ability to get results that are needed to help Manchester be the city we all want it to be — and know it can be — I can’t think of a better preparation for the next alderman from Ward 2.


Ryan Richman
Age: 37
Ward 2
Occupation: Teacher
Skills: What best qualifies you (experience, background) to hold this office and represent the residents of your ward?

As the only candidate in this race that is a working man, I have a unique perspective that allows me to be an advocate for the working men and women of Ward 2 and of Manchester. My position as the candidate who can best advocate for the working men and women has been recognized by the AFT NH, AFL-CIO NH, MEA, and the Teamsters 633. As a teacher, my grasp of how government should and could work for all of us, the problems at hand-potential roadblocks to be circumvented, and an innate ability to prioritize effectively give me the skills necessary for an efficient and effective alderman.

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

Constituent services are a vital part of an efficient and responsible government. I will make myself available via telephone, email, or weekly office hours for my constituents to access me, express their concerns, and make their voice heard. I do not believe that public servants should only engage with voters and constituents during elections. The relationship built during a campaign should extend through service.

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

The tax cap is not going anywhere. Thus, we must have a mayor and Board of Aldermen that is vigilant and detail oriented to find every wasteful or ineffective spending line in order to prioritize vital city services, especially safety and public education. I have spent my career being detail oriented and will dedicate myself to finding every possible way to improve city services without increasing the tax burden on property owners.

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

The key to a productive relationship between the Board of Alderman and the Board of School Committee is respectful dialogue. Far too many people on both boards use their position to grandstand and as a platform for debasing public discourse. This serves absolutely no one. Compromise is not a dirty word and both groups need to recognize that their purpose is to serve the community, not their own egos. As an educator, I am unique in my race and have the understanding and experience that makes me the ideal alderman to help facilitate the bridging of this gap between the Board of Alderman and the Board of School Committee.

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 Charter is clear that a conflict of interest results in personal gain for the individual casting the legislative vote. Because of the nature of my personal and professional lives, I have no conflicts of interest. I do not work for any business that may benefit from city ordinances, nor do I work for any non-profit that may wish to do business with the city. I am employed by an AFT public district (Manchester is MEA) and have no family members that are employed in any municipal departments. Thus, I do not believe that a situation will arise that I could have personal gain from a Board of Aldermen vote.

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

The top priorities for Ward 2 are addressing our under-resourced school system, addressing the opioid epidemic, and increasing quality of life issues, such as roads and public services. I am the only candidate in this race that has advocated for these issues with real, practical solutions.

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 understand the role our public school system plays in economic development and in serving our community. I understand that we need to make sure that we are focused on providing the resources our schools need for our students to be successful, but that we must also spend our money wisely, working under the tax cap, to make our schools competitive and attractive for young families to set down roots, buy property, and spread out the tax burden.

We must also address the opioid crisis. I am the only candidate in Ward 2 that has made this a central theme of my campaign. I have met with and developed relationships with first responders and non-profits that work on the addiction crisis. I want to continue to work on this crisis, as alderman, so that we can provide treatment and resources, by partnering with these non-profits and community organizations, and develop comprehensive early intervention programs focused on awareness and education.

Third, we must ensure that the citizens of Manchester have their voice heard. City government must be focused on improving the quality of life for Manchester residents. From the quality of our roads to the kinds of cultural events that the city partners on, we need to develop Manchester into the kind of city that people want to move to, build a life in, and raise a family in. If we continue to ignore the school and opioid crises, it will be impossible for us to improve the quality of life in Manchester.

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 focused on tackling the opioid crisis starting on day one. I know we must make sure our first responders have the training they need to do their job safely. I also know we must also make sure law enforcement has the resources they need to get the drugs and the dealers off our streets. I also want to partner with the community organizations providing the care and treatment for those suffering with addiction and that provide them the job training and job placement they need to be contributing members of our community. This kind of productive partnership will take the financial burden off the city and allow us to increase our responses and resources for those who suffer with addiction.

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

I am intrigued by Albuquerque’s positive and results-bearing response to pan handling. I would like to work with local and state organizations to develop something similar to address it in Manchester. Albuquerque’s “A Better Way” program gives people dignity in work, connect individuals with services, and has collectively ended panhandling. It has resulted in over 3,000 jobs, city beautification, provided housing for dozens, connected over 200 people with mental health care providers. The program has been adopted in nearby Portland, ME and may very well prove to be a successful alternative here in Manchester.

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 primary motivator for a city’s population, and a critical piece to its economic sustainability, is its public school system. With class sizes over the legal limit and resources dwindling in many of our schools, the students of Manchester have a right to a quality, competitive education. Those who own property in Manchester have the right to a school district that improves their property value, not depreciates it. Our professionals that live and work in our district deserve a Board of Mayor and Aldermen that is pro-education, not anti-education. We have to prioritize cost-saving measures aimed at student achievement. We must also be smarter about how we measure success.

Data-driven education has only resulted in more standardized tests, which measure only how well a student takes a standardized test. More holistic measurements are more effective and allow us to measure growth in a much more real sense. It also allows us to support our professionals through effective professional development and resources. As a veteran educator, I am uniquely qualified to work with the Board of School Committee and the Mayor on making public education in Manchester the jewel of the city.

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

The population exodus of Manchester is directly tied to our school system. By addressing our public schools, we make Manchester more attractive to young families and professionals. By increasing our labor population, we become more attractive to businesses because we would have a stable workforce. The greater, and more diverse our population, the greater and more diverse our culture will be. From art walks to festivals, to a River Walk, our people deserve a city that celebrates them, all of them. That is the kind of city that I have fought for in my charity and non-profit work. That is the kind of city I will continue to fight for as a


Thomas Svoleantopoulos

Ward 2

 

 

 

 


Bob Gerard O’Sullivan

Ward 2

Past owner of P.J. O’Sullivan’s Restaurant

• Major Accounts Manager at Spectrum Marketing Companies, Inc., Manchester

• B.S. Business Administration and Marketing from Southern NH University, December 1988

• Married to Kassey; 17 year old son, Dylan

Former Ward 2 School Board member

• Mayor’s Committee for establishing rules for sale of alcohol at new community civic center

• Varsity Football Coach, Trinity High School, Manchester NH 1986-1989

• Served on Jack Collins Golf Committee at the Greater Manchester Family YMCA

• Various sponsorships of food, time and funding to local organizations and youth sports leagues. 1994-present

Information from osullivanforalderman.com

• Hold the line on taxes and spending while focusing on increasing the efficiency of city government

• Partner with Police and Fire Departments to make our streets safe and let our community thrive

• Work with teachers, parents and students for excellent public schools and programs

“As your next Alderman for Manchester’s Ward 2, I promise to put the needs of our city before partisan politics. I’ll work to keep taxes low, better our schools and make our streets safer.”


Ward 3 – No primary


 

Chris Herbert (incumbent)

Ward 4
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.

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.  

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

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.’  

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.

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.

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.  

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.  

License panhandlers.  Regulate them.

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.  

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.


Jason Hodgdon

Ward 4

Manchester native

2003 West High Grad

Small business owner/insurance and financial services 

Information taken from Facebook candidate page

On the Issues:

  • Elderly services – keeping people in their homes
  • Domestic Violence: Working with local organizations to provide help for victims
  • Substance abuse: Supporting programs to get treatment for people struggling with addiction
  • Spending reform: Cutting back wasteful spending to put  back toward the  community.

Stephen Mathieu

Ward 4

From candidate webpage, mathieuforadlerman.webs.com

Steve Mathieu is a Community Leader, a Manchester small business owner and a local sports coach. Steve is the founder and president of Legacy Financial Solutions, a financial planning company with his wife, Jean.

  • Fight Taxes and Wasteful Spending.  As your alderman, I will fight to keep more money in your wallet.  I’ll never vote to override the tax cap.  Like a household budget, the city must live within its means.
  • Respecting our Seniors.  I will work to lower property taxes and expand our tax base.  I will fight to ensure seniors can remain in their Ward 4 homes.
  • Make Our Streets Safer.  We must continue to fight this drug crisis and return safety to our neighborhoods.

    Ward 5 – No primary


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 fifteen 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.

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.

As for the Tax Cap in Manchester: 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.    

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.


Ryan Van Orden

Ward 6

Owner, Uni-Star Cleaning Service

[Information from candidate Facebook page]

  • Drug Epidemic: Being a life long Manchester resident, it hits home when you see the city you grew up in suffering. We need to help get this city back on track!
  • Accountability: As a father, and a member of this community, I have many questions for the schools. Why are our children’s test scores so low, why is our curriculum so outdated, why are we not teaching life skills?

Taxes: I am for the tax cap in Manchester, we need to focus on managing our current budget, and allow our funds to work FOR us.


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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


William P. Shea (incumbent)

Ward 7 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


Brenda Noiseux

Ward 7

Tech/Business Consultant

[Information from Brendafornh.com]

I’m running for Alderman because I want you to see what I see: a city full of potential, home to talented young people and families, generational pride and New Hampshire reinvention. There are so many people and groups working hard to make Manchester the best city in New Hampshire in which to live and work. We need vision and leadership from our city government to ensure quality schools, healthy and safe communities, cultural and recreational activities that attract and retain talent to our beautiful city on the river.

I’m running for Alderman because I want to re-engage City Hall with the residents of Ward 7, to truly feel they have an advocate. Regarding issues affecting Manchester, I’ll employ strategic long-term thinking using data to analyze issues such as what schools want versus what students need, the perception of safety in our city versus actual crime, evaluating the tax cap to determine its effect on our city and bench-marking how Manchester scores in attracting companies and talented workers.

Most importantly, I’ll relay the information to the residents of Ward 7 and actively seek their thoughts and concerns through a combination of technology, like a website and social media, and opportunities for face-to-face engagement.

I’m not a politician; I’m a homeowner and community builder who believes that everyday citizens should get involved in our government.


Brian D. Cole

Ward 7


 

John Cataldo

Age 31

Ward 8

Quality Control Lead, Great North Aleworks

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


Ed Sapienza

WARD 8

Age: 50
 
Army Veteran, Retired Correctional Officer, current Court Security Officer.
 
Qualifications: Good listening skills and an open mind.

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

I would be available to the constituents through my phone 391-8038, email edward.sapienza@yahoo.com, Facebook, the track at Memorial High school, Hannaford, whatever.

 What is your position on the city’s Tax Cap?
 
I am an advocate of the tax cap.  I am also an advocate of sound fiscal policy.
 
How can the BOA work more seamlessly with the Board of School Committee going forward?
 
Have open lines of communication.
 
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?
 
Simple, if I felt there was a conflict of interest I would abstain.  Not complicated at all.  My wife is a Kindergarten teacher for the city.  If a vote were taken on an MEA contract I would abstain.  
 
What are the top three priorities in your ward that you would advocate for,  if elected?
 
I am opposed to the re-zoning in the South Mammoth Road/Lucas Road area and the plan for 165 apartments; improved infrastructure; and I always advocate for law and order.  
 
What do you view as the top three priorities for the city in the coming years and how will you advocate for addressing them?
 
  • Crime: Let’s communicate with state and federal authorities. Also let’s enforce existing laws.
  • Labor costs: We need to reform, reduce or eliminate the Yager-Decker pay scale for city employees.  
  • Infrastructure; let’s fill the pot holes and tear down or rehab the abandoned buildings.
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?
 
Enough with the Narcan, stop reviving them.  
 
How would you propose the city address panhandling, given the recent federal court ruling on the existing ordinance, deemed unconstitutional?
 
For crying out loud STOP giving them money.  If you are in a generous mood give to New Horizons.
 
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?
 
Quit taxing them so damn much.  
 
How would you suggest the city be more welcoming to young families and businesses?

Maintain the rule of law. If you don’t have law and order you have nothing.


Betsi DeVries

Ward 8
Retired Manchester Firefighter
 
Previously served as a State Senator, Ward Alderman, State Representative
 
[Information from bestidevries.org]

The people of Ward 8 need a strong voice and I am running to be that voice at City Hall. I was proud to serve as a Ward 8 Alderman from 2001-2011 until I decided to not seek re-election to spend time with a sick family member.

The needs of our community are varied and require an Alderman that is able to dedicate their time to serving the people of Ward 8. As an Alderman, I built a strong reputation for constituent service and fought for Ward 8’s fair share of city projects like our bike/pedestrian trail which connects our neighborhoods with safer walkways and updated athletic field improvements at Memorial High School. I look forward to bringing back a focus on neighborhoods and facilities while keeping an eye on the bottom line of budgets.

Values: A safer Manchester with a strong quality of life and eye toward our future.


Barbara Shaw (Incumbent)

Ward 9

Retired teacher


James A. Burkush

Ward 9

Fire Chief, Hooksett, NH

 

 

 

 


Mike Ricker
Age: 38
Ward 9
Occupation: Small business owner of Insure New England in Manchester

Qualifying skills: As a Manchester small business owner, a father of five school age children who attend Manchester public schools, and a Ward 9 resident, I have everything invested in our city.  I know Manchester can be a great city but not without changing the direction we are headed.  I have been employed only in the private sector since I was 16.  I have been an entry-level employee that moved up to management. I have owned several small businesses and worked for large corporations, I understand how things work.

Communication: As a business owner in the city, I am easy to reach.  I believe the residents want an Alderman who is responsive and accountable, and I am both.  I will hold community/ward meetings, online polls on important issues and I will most certainly be available to speak to the residents at any time. My office phone is 855-264-8669 and my email is rickerfornh@gmail.com

Tax Cap: In an effort to stop the bleeding of tax dollars and to stop reaching in the tax payers pocket at every opportunity, the residents of Manchester voted in a tax cap.  To keep Manchester sustainable and accountable, we need the tax cap.  As an alderman I will speak the will of the people and do all within my power to enforce the tax cap and not allow overrides.  There are other candidates in my Ward that have said they will go against the voters and allow tax cap overrides, I will not. While I respect our municipal employees, the Yarger/Decker pay scales and ultimately guaranteed raises to municipal employees needs to be revised.  We cannot just keep increasing pay without having reasons and they need to be earned not guaranteed.

BOA & BOSC: I hope this election that we replace some members of the BOSC with those willing to work with each other and the Alderman to get things done and for the greater good of our city.  As a father of five, I am always involved with their education and our schools.  While I have a say in what goes on in our schools, ultimately the taxpayers vote in BOSC members to focus on just the schools.  Therefore I will respect and honor their opinions and findings, but will ultimately vote based on what my ward wants.  Many on the BOSC and the current candidates are great people, they are reasonable and want the best for our city and students. 

Conflicts: I have spoken very loudly on my beliefs that there have been charter violations by our Alderman due to conflict of interest.  If you have a conflict, you need to abstain, it’s that simple.  If you have a child, a spouse, etc. that is a teacher, fire, police or another profession and their contract is being voted on, they stand to gain in some way.  I will certainly make the ethical & morally sounds decision to abstain from voting. 

Top 3 Issues: In our ward I will look at our infrastructure that needs attention, our taxes and how to help our seniors and working families.  We need to keep Manchester a city that people want to move to, businesses want to call home and children want to go to school.

Opioids: Our city has become a place where addicts gather.  This has caused the residents to bear the burden of increased overdoses within the city, increased cost, increased crime and strain on emergency services and just a negative image when it’s discusses.  That said, I am no expert but I’m sure as a community, we can find some answers and solutions.  I would also like to discuss with the Mayor, Alderman, City Solicitor and Police Chief how we can defer the cost of resources that non Manchester residents are taking advantage of.  Our Safe Station has to be more than just our burden because more than Manchester residents are using the service.  

The Welcoming City: Manchester is a great city.  We have a great downtown with lots of restaurants and some great entertainment.  I would like to see more events that draw people, businesses and revenue to Manchester.  I would much rater see Manchester being highlighted for what we have to offer in a positive light in the community vs focusing on our issues. It seems we are under-utilizing some of the venues we have available to us.  We have the SNHU Arena, Delta Dental Stadium, a great downtown and many parks.  I will meet with our Mayer, Alderman, Business owners and community planners to see how we can bring in more events that are tailored to families that will in turn, bring more families and businesses to the area.


Ward 10: No primary


Andre Rosa

Age: 35

Ward 11

Occupation Software Developer

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

This is what it is reads on my resume: I love solving problems and building well-designed systems. I always have fun working both in teams and independently. Sounds about right for a Manchester Alderman looking to improve city services and help out our neighbors dealing with the heroin crisis.
How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically to your ward.
 
You can call me 858.9011, or email me at andre.manuel.rosa@gmail.com, or even anonymously berate me at nhdre.tumblr.com. I will always attend the Rimmon Heights Group meetings. I want to empower the neighborhood groups in Manchester.
 
What is your position on the city’s Tax Cap?
 
I respect the taxpayer’s wishes. I will never override the tax cap. We can respect the tax cap and improve city services. These goals are not mutually exclusive.
 
How can the BOA work more seamlessly with the Board of School Committee going forward?
 
The Board of School Committee are responsible for over half of the city budget, and yet they are not given the same expectation of responsibility as the Board of Alderman. The Board of Alderman needs to trust the BOSC in their decisions, and the BOSC cannot just volley their indecisiveness to the BOA. Otherwise, why do we have two boards managing the same city budget?
 
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?
 
If there is a clear ethical violation of the city charter, a board member must recuse him or herself. The citizens of Manchester expect their public officials to act ethically. I will always recuse myself from a vote if there is a conflict of interest.
 
What are the top three priorities in your ward that you would advocate for, if elected?
 
Many constituents I spoke to are upset by the increases in their taxes. They feel being taken advantage of. Tax payers would like to see a return on investment in their taxes.
The opioid crisis. We need to come together as a community. We cannot delegate this problem away. Somebody else is not going to take care of it. We have to.
There are some areas in Ward 11 that are completely dilapidated. The Rimmon Heights Group does so much good keeping Ward 11 beautiful, as best they can. We have to deal with infrastructure. Tax dollars should be wisely spent on maintenance and upkeep of the roads and city property.
 
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 Board of Alderman must only approve tax cap restrained budgets.
Business growth is essential for quality of life improvements. I will promote growth, for example, by reducing onerous regulations that prevent businesses opening up shop.
I will advocate for a focus on rehabilitation, not incarceration in handling the opioid crisis. These are our friends and neighbors. Incarceration makes the problem even worse. Note well: Quality of life improvements, such as through business growth, will lessen the severity of the opioid crisis. Expanding opportunities in a healthy environment shifts people’s priorities.
 
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 cots of the Safe Stations can be kept well within budget. I applaud the efforts of the Fire Department starting the Safe Station program. As for out-of-state clients, we can consider possible cost-sharing agreements with sister cities.
To address the opioid crisis, there are two general approaches: harm reduction and quality life improvements. As stated in previous answers, by making Manchester a thriving economic hub and focusing on rehabilitation instead of incarceration, you will see dramatic drops in the intensity of the problem.
 
How would you propose the city address panhandling, given the recent federal court ruling on the existing ordinance, deemed unconstitutional?
 
The Board of Alderman should have known better and saved the taxpayers from unnecessary, expensive litigation costs. The Constitution is a simple document. That said, I am not sure how to handle the panhandling. I would have to investigate how effectively other municipalities have dealt with homelessness.
 
 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?
 
City Hall needs to stop getting in the way of businesses. Let them build. Let them set up shop. Let’s stop playing favorites with certain business owners. Let’s stop with the micromanaging. Let Manchester grow.
 
How would you suggest the city be more welcoming to young families and businesses?
Same answer as above.

Normand Gamache (incumbent)

Ward 11 

Retired Firefighter

 

 


Russ Ouellette
Ward 11
Assistant Service Manager at Quirk Volkswagen


Armand D. Forest

Ward 11

Former NH State Rep

 

 

 

 

 

 


John Barrett

Ward 12
 
How will you communicate with/make yourself available to constituents on matters of importance to the city and specifically to your ward?
 
I look forward to attending every event that pertains to the importance of Manchester and will always be open-minded to all ideas and solutions. However, the people of ward 12 and the people of Manchester will be the ones I speak for. If we all work together, with good compromise we will achieve all our goals such as peace and prosperity.
 
What is your position on the city’s Tax Cap?
 
I think we can all agree that the city tax cap can be reduced. It’s not a good deal for the people in ward 12 and Manchester as a whole. I’d like to see it reduced to 1.4 percent by the end of my term so I will work diligently to reduce the taxes. There is no need for citizens to work harder and pay more to the city and not see a better outcome. Furthermore, if we appropriated money by which is backed up by a stringent accountable policy with a clearer definition, we could be able to look at our capacity of recourses.
 
How can the BOA work more seamlessly with the Board of School Committee going forward?

We need to revisit some of the policies in our charter. As you know politics can take some time when it comes to negotiations, policy making and legislative processing as well as just simply working with various committees. That’s why good policy reform is needed. The foundation of that reform is a good stringent accountable system as an incentive can be a way for both Alderman and the school committee to get something completed in a more reasonable time frame.

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 who were part of the union which had a contract up for approval? Under what circumstances would you recuse yourself from a vote?

Well first I’d like to say any kind of conflict of interest held in any office held by any person or persons shall be held accountable. If they acknowledge their office and the laws pertaining to that office, they should be in understanding that any form of self-interest is not only greedy but it also stalls progression. Furthermore, the only time I’d recuse myself in office is when my clarity and judgment is not aligned with the people, nor would I put myself in a situation where conflict of interest would take place. Finally, I think it’s good to implement a rule, law or policy that prevents conflict of interest to occur and penalize those who use conflict of interest in such an unlawful manner.

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

While working within the community, people brought up many different topics of concerns to me, but the top three that were most mentioned were:

Traffic issues throughout Ward 12.  For example, Dumbarton Road has numerous pot holes. I would have the roads repaved and new traffic lights added to assist better traffic flow.

Drug Epidemic. A program would be implemented so that addicts can get the assistance they need. The program would encourage their sobriety however, they would face penalty should they tread away from recovery as well as the normal process of hearing.  An additional program would be created to help prevent petty crimes such as vandalism or graffiti, for instance. It would be designed to encourage moral fiber, respect, and acceptance of responsibilities of the actions taken. What this policy does is reduce the expenses the city must pay in response to these wrongful actions and holds the individual(s) in financial responsibility to repair/repay for damages incurred.

Finally, the last would be education, nothing is more important than educating our children and prepare them for todays and tomorrows advanced industry. We must strengthen the educational system and its criteria. I will implement solutions that have worked in other cities and states, it can reduce time to complete tasks which is turn reduces spending. I then in turn would help build an additional school to help reduce over populated classrooms as well as create new jobs for teachers. For students who require additional assistance, I would create a program that allows them to attend any college of their choosing. I would also implement better safety measures. In my opinion if we had fixed the public school’s issues, we would not have to venture out to charter schools.

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 think the Safe Station is appropriate. I believe everyone is entitled to a second chance. However, as much as I’d like to see people fight their addiction and get the help they need without consequence, there are those that have repeatedly relapsed and have gone back out on the street. Therefore, I’d like to regulate this position or policy to ensure we help those who really want the help, especially those who are coming in for the first time. Out of state citizens should be seeking help within their own state. Doing this not only alleviates the opioid issues but balances our budget more effectively, so that all have an equal opportunity.

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

Although I agree to some extent of the Supreme Court ruling that individuals have the right to express their personal grievance as well as expressing their voice, by nature, to some degree panhandling expresses more than just a voice. It expresses advertising and the need for donations such as food and money. This also causes financial issues for those who have donated to these individuals because they can’t claim donations when filing taxes, also not to mention if a panhandler that are receiving income from panhandling should be filing taxes to the IRS, furthermore under the patriot act if your receiving money from any kind of source then using that money to conduct illegal acts and/or finance such acts is illegal. To avoid illegal behavior from panhandling I proposed regulating panhandling to ensure those that are receiving donation and/or income from the public, is noted along with identifying the individual or individuals. The new regulation would consist of implementing a permit that has the person /or/ persons information and status and why there panhandling an also understand the laws that pertain to panhandling, along with filing taxes if they are receiving income from such act. Not to mention that another requirement would to file a donation form to ensure that the items received classifies a donation and not drugs cigarettes and booze which is not a need but a want. Because the nature of panhandling is not just expressing freedom of speech, it also expresses some form of adverting which is not protected under amendment 1 although there is some exception to this rule. And amendment one does not protect you from hate speech either. And lastly panhandling enables bad drug behavior. By regulating we can alleviate the drug issue and the panhandling epidemic.

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 the same vision for the residents of Ward 12 and Manchester that is peace, prosperity, getting drugs off our streets and in schools, an lastly making good deals between BOA and the school committee along with writing charter policy that makes sense.

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

I think if we pulled together and have festivals along with other kinds of family events that bring everyone together can really bring more life into the city, we need these kinds of incentives that brings good moral. Bringing in business to our city is important, if we  create a platform that helps both new and existing small business from collapsing  on a financial  level would one of many  solutions to ensure good commerce.


Keith Hirschmann (Incumbent)
Ward 12


Joel Elber

Ward 12
NH State Rep


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.

Skills: 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”)

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.

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.

 


SCHOOL BOARD


There are primary races in Wards 6 and 12

 

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.
 
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.
 
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.
 
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.
 
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.
 
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.
 
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.
 
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.
 
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!
 
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.
 
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.

 


Daniel H. Bergeron

Dan Bergeron (incumbent)

Age: 55

Ward: 6

Occupation: Stay at Home Parent

Relevent Experience

MTA:

As a former Board Member, most recently Vice Chairmen, of the Manchester Transit Authority, it allowed for continuous correspondence with M.T.A .Management and staff, Manchester School District stakeholders, most importantly, students and parents, in our effort to maintain an optimal level of service and satisfaction.

MFE:

It was an honor to have been invited to join the Manchester Foundation for Education (MFE), a non-profit organization founded to strengthen public education in Manchester, N.H. as Executive Board Member at Large. The talent on the board truly engages community members as partners in the pursuit of educational excellence.

Manchester Memorial High School Parents of Performing Students:

As former President of Manchester Memorial High School’s (M.M.H.S.) Parents of Performing Students, or P.O.P.S (one of the two M.M.H.S. parent group organizations), it was a pleasure to work alongside the dedicated parents of the over 300 music students, support Music Directors , and most importantly, ensure the students are supported in every way.

Manchester Memorial High School Boosters Club:

Being an active member of the Manchester Memorial High School Booster Club is a not only rewarding in its ability to assist organizations to better serve students, but it is a conduit to observe students and parents rise to the best of their abilities

McLaughlin Middle School’s McLaughlin Organization of Music Supporters:

My wife and I have truly benefited, personally and professionally, as active volunteers for McLaughlin Middle School whether it is ongoing support for the McLaughlin Organization of Music Supporters, or M.O.M.S., or as a PTO Member.

Daniel Webster College:

Having been an Adjunct at Daniel Webster College since 2008 in Undergraduate, and Graduate programs, in both Day and Continuing Education divisions, has allowed me to stay close to the profession, and serves as a constant reminder to the magnitude of successfully preparing high school students for college.

Wat 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.


Ernesto Pinder

Ward 6 School Board


               

Connie Van Houten (incumbent)

Age: 68

Ward: 12

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.


Kelly Anne Thomas

Ward 12


Carlos Gonzalez

Ward 12

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