Anti-discrimination policy could hurt veterans says Sharonov

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Alderman Sebastian Sharonov on Aug. 3, 2021. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, NH – On Tuesday, the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) approved an amendment to the city’s ordinances that prohibits discrimination in the city’s procurement process, but not before Ward 6 Alderman Sebastian Sharonov addressed concerns regarding how the move could impact veterans seeking to do business with the city.

With the ordinance amendment, a company’s non-discrimination policy joins capability, timeliness, previous performance, quality, legal compliance and conditions as criteria the city can take into account for awarding city contracts.

Sharonov noted that non-discrimination would eliminate positive discrimination along with negative discrimination, and the inclusion of veteran status in the list of classes noted in prescribed non-discrimination policy could prohibit the city from preferring veteran over non-veteran bidders.

Manchester City Human Resources Director Kathleen Ferguson noted that the proposal was intended to eliminate any type of discrimination, including discrimination against veterans and Alderman Anthony Sapienza (Ward 5) noted that the change met no resistance during the committee hearing process.

The proposal passed 10-2, with Sharonov and Joseph Kelly Levasseur (At-Large) voting in opposition.

That roll call was one of three taken on Tuesday.

In the second, a proposal originally created by Sharonov regarding city elections was approved with some modifications over Sharonov’s initial idea.

In that vote, the BMA went 10-2 in favor of a recommendation from the Committee on Adminstration and Information Systems to eliminate primaries for Aldermanic special elections and hold the elections as “soon as practicable.”

Sharonov originally wanted the elections to be held within 90 days of any vacancy and wanted the measure to be part of the city charter. However, other members of the board felt this would tie the hands of the city clerk’s office, especially in situations where a regularly scheduled election could be held just days after the 90-day deadline.

Sharonov urged again to restore the 90-day deadline, but ultimately voted for the committee recommendation. Only Kevin Cavanaugh (Ward 1) and Will Stewart (Ward 2) voted in opposition, with Cavanaugh noting that without primaries, a candidate could receive substantially less than half of the total votes cast and still win their election, leading to an Alderman that may not be truly representative of their constituents.

The third roll call vote overturned a recommendation from the Committee on Public Safety recommending stop signs at the corner of Laydon and Page Streets.

That recommendation contradicted initial guidance from the Department of Public Works. Stewart, Sharonov, Levasseur and Pat Long (Ward 3) voted in favor of the recommendation to add the stop signs.

Keith Hirschmann (Ward 12) was absent for all three votes. During a discussion about COVID guidelines for the board, Levasseur noted that Hirschmann was quarantining after possible exposure to COVID.