City Primary Voters’ Guide: Ward-level races

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Ward-Level Races


Ward 5 Alderman

Marcus Ponce de Leon

Marcus Ponce de Leon,  age 38, earned a bachelor’s degree in communications and is COO for Certified Homecare Consulting.

Qualifications

I have lived my whole life in communities as diverse as Ward 5, and successfully managed operations for retail chains and small businesses alike. I have also served as a member on the board of directors for a non-profit organization focused on youth support services, and worked closely with municipal fire and police services as an EMT prior to relocating to Manchester. My diverse experience with community outreach and engagement, as well as extensive experience in management, have prepared me well to be attentive to the needs of the Ward 5 community, and an effective voice for our Ward as well.

Tax cap

I believe that there was a considerable amount of fiscal irresponsibility that took place under the Gatsas leadership of Manchester. There have been some improvements made in recent years, but we have a lot more work to do in getting our financial house in order before looking to the taxpayers for more money. In the event that we do that work in earnest and still come up short, I would be open to considering the merits of an override proposal. I strongly believe, however, that there are funds currently being misappropriated, and much of what we might consider overriding the tax cap for can be found in existing city expenditures that could be streamlined to improve the city’s bottom line.

Priorities

Crime prevention, trash cleanup, and the needs of the Ward 5 community overall.

Vision for the city

Today, a great number of community voices on the west end of Ward 5 don’t get the same attention that the east end does. I want to see that engagement and participation in our community and its initiatives become a lot more balanced than it is now. Advocating for those who don’t feel like they currently have a voice in the city will help to push us in that direction. Trash and crime cleanup are age-old concepts and promises; I want to build on what progress has been made in those efforts, and with some diligence toward those tasks, I hope to affect a noticeable improvement on those fronts over the course of the upcoming term as alderman.

Click to watch Marcus Ponce de Leon’s candidate statement via MPTV


Tony Sapienza

Anthony (Tony) Sapienza (incumbent), age 57, is an electrician.

Qualifications

I have a questioning attitude, the ability to understand the finances, and an understanding of Ward 5 that comes from living in Ward 5 all my life.

Tax Cap

I agree that taxes should not rise more than the inflation index allows but I also believe we need to use revenues from new construction to finance needed city services.

Priorities

Taxes, paving and protecting neighborhoods from unreasonable developments.

Vision for the city

In Ward 5 the immediate needs are picking up trash and paving. The long-term needs are maintaining public safety and improving education and city services while keeping the tax burden bearable.  Let’s make existing residents feel welcome. This city is welcoming as evidenced by the people who continue to move here.

Link here to see Tony Sapienza’s MPTV campaign video


Cameron Barr moved to New Hampshire in 2015 from Michigan as part of the Free State Project.  He works at Mint Bistro as a sushi chef. He did not respond to the candidate questionnaire, but you can learn more about him here.


Ward 6 School Committee


William Bergquist

Rev. Dr. William Bergquist, age 63, earned a doctorate in theology and is an Anglican priest.

Qualifications

I am a music teacher and administrator.

What are the top three improvements you’d like to see for the school district?

Create a program to bring up our reading and math levels for students, focus on bringing in paraprofessionals and teachers needed, and restructure spending toward our education for special education students.


Jon DiPietro, age 51, earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and is a self-employed digital marketing consultant. His website is https://bosc.jondipietro.com.

Qualifications

A high-tech business owner for 22 years, with four daughters who spent more than 30 years collectively in Manchester public schools. Extensive leadership experience on boards.

Manchester School District’s greatest strength

The size and diversity of the district provide access to resources and opportunities that no other school in New Hampshire has.

Priorities

Improve achievement by focusing on blending grades and improving standards and curricula. Engage parents to be more involved (and welcome) which will help reduce behavioral issues in class. Empower teachers to take back control over their classrooms.

Link here to see Jon DiPietro’s MPTV campaign video 


Daniel H. Bergeron

Dan Bergeron (incumbent), age 57, earned a master’s in business administration in applied management. “Although school committee members are not employees of the school district, my ongoing collaboration with existing local, state, and national partners –  as well as forging relationships with newer contributors –  is and has been a good investment of my time.”

Qualifications

When I was initially appointed to the BoSC in March of 2013 and August of 2015 (elected in 2015, and 2017), I quickly discovered that the time spent with students and educators as one of the many Manchester School District parent-volunteers allowed me jump right in, make decisions on their behalf, coupled with the parent/volunteer/community perspective. My experience as an adjunct instructor, small business owner, transit commissioner, along with sales and marketing at Connect, and IBM, provided the confidence needed to represent all stakeholders that are impacted by our decisions.

Manchester School District’s greatest strength

Without question, the greatest strength of the Manchester School District (MSD) is our students. MSD students gave me the confidence to make impactful decisions from the moment I was first appointed on the BOSC in 2014, 15-months into the term. Having volunteered alongside MSD students for 12 years, I was familiar with many of the tools that delivered successful outcomes, as well as the barriers.  It’s easy to understand why our educators, administrators, and staff go above and beyond to support them, it’s why hundreds of community partners choose to contribute, as outlined in our Mission Statement, it is why our proud  MSD alumni  stay involved and, of course, it is the reason our students go on to contribute to all sectors by doing what they do best; aspire.

Priorities

1. Branding/Messaging: The success of the city depends on the success of our schools and vice versa. MSD must communicate our award-winning brand in addition to the transparency of ongoing issues. It would serve the businesses, including colleges/universities, and nonprofits which currently lose potential candidates due to legacy information. The community has committed to partner with us as they know it is vital to our future. We could retain many of our students to attend NH colleges and universities, and in turn, join the local workforce and community for generations.

2. Student Voice: Continue to advocate for student perspective/engagement on all things MSD. Students of all ages provide relevant, brilliant, current and long-term feedback. My confidence in decision-making is a result of their contribution.

3. Nurture success: Expand MSD athletic program/opportunities via community engagement and investment, especially with MSD Alumni: The success of the city depends on the success of our schools and vice versa. The community has committed to partner with us as they know it is vital to our future. We could retain many of our students to attend New Hampshire colleges and universities, and in turn, join the local workforce and community for generations.


Ward 7 Alderman

Brian Cole

Brian D. Cole, age 47, earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and finance at Southern NH University. He owns JC International in Manchester, a wholesale distribution company that sells to retailers throughout the Northeast, and sells retail goods online.

Qualifications

I own a business in Manchester that provides jobs to Manchester residents. I have more than 25 years of management and budget experience (it is important to separate needs from wants in budgets to keep them under control). My degree in economics and finance will allow me to have a better perspective on city budget woes than my opponents.

Tax cap

I support a tax cap override to give the teachers their new contract. From what I am told this will be approximately $1.6 million which is less than 1 percent of their current budget and less than 0.5 percent of the entire city budget. I have a plan for the Fire Department to resolve their contract problems and budget woes as well. The best part of the plan is there will be no impact on the tax cap and will improve fire safety for our first responders. It is important to have a tax cap in city government as not to crush people on fixed incomes. We need to choose our overrides carefully and make them far and few between. This is why I believe it is essential to separate needs from wants in budgets to keep them under control. This will allow us to treat our city employees fairly and compensate them appropriately.

Priorities

The top issue facing our city and our ward continues to be the drug epidemic and the crime that comes with it. While crime overall is down, violent crime is on the rise and needs to be addressed. A stronger police presence is required in our statistically high crime rate areas of the city, We need to be proactive rather than reactive against drug dealers and gang violence. The teachers have not had a new contract in five years. It is the city’s responsibility to negotiate in good faith and get this contract resolved. I met with the MEA, and they have every right to vote against the proposals from the school board. The school board’s recommendations seek to diminish the contracts they have had in the past. They deserve better. Leave their vacation time alone, and give them the raises they have earned. Ward 7 is a nice ward. People take pride in their homes, I have had the opportunity in recent weeks to walk around our entire ward. I have met many friendly faces. I would want to strengthen the sense of community we already have. Encourage community policing, and help neighbors to get to know one another, and when necessary support each other in times of need.

Vision for the city

In the immediate future, resolve the teachers’ contract and the firefighters’ contract. Be proactive working with law enforcement by concentrating our efforts in the statistically high crime rates areas of the city and bringing a new commitment to community policing. Work hard with all departments across the city to get the most out of their budgets, and support our city employees.

The long-term issue is the amount we spend per student. Manchester ranks dead last in the state. We owe our youth, who will be our future, the best chance of succeeding in life. A strong educational system is the foundation of such success. This can not be resolved in a short amount of time; it will take several years to address these issues and properly fund the school system. Create a plan to significantly reduce the amount of drugs on our street, we are already doing a lot but it isn’t enough. We need new strategies added to our current plan to curtail the current epidemic and put Manchester back on the right path.


Brenda Noiseux

Brenda Noiseux, age 41, attended college and is a consultant focused on helping NH small businesses and non-profits.  She is also an artist and teaches after-school STEM-based art.  Her website is www.brendaformht.com.

Qualifications

My professional career has been focused on long term planning, strategic thinking and stakeholder engagement; skills I think are relevant and needed for the Board of Alderman. I also have a background in technology, have been a judge in the city and state water science fairs, and currently, I serve on the city’s Conservation Commission.

Tax cap

The city’s tax cap often feels like a political trap, rather than a means to balance property owners’ fears over increased taxes. Being a data person, I would like to see a study on how the tax cap has affected our city. Has it had a positive or negative impact on our city?

Priorities

As I’ve been knocking doors this year, the top three issues are on Ward 7 residents’ minds are infrastructure (road conditions, trash pickup), education and safety (opioid crisis, homelessness).

Vision for the city

Increased proactive engagement is where it begins. Ward 7 residents need to feel like they can bring up concerns and ideas to someone who is actively, and proactively, seeking their engagement. The same goes for city businesses, community leaders and groups who want to make Manchester address issues and create a vibrant place to live. It’s hard work, but I’m passionate about this city, so I’m willing to dedicate the energy to help make it happen.

Link here to watch Brenda Noiseux’s candidate statement video via MPTV


Ross Terrio

Ross Terrio, age 53, earned an associate degree in electronics, a bachelor’s in pharmacy, a Juris Doctorate in law, and is a hospital pharmacist at Catholic Medical Center. His website is http://rossterrio.com/home/.

Qualifications

My experience as both a state representative and school board member from Ward 7.

Tax cap

I strongly support it.

Priorities

Homelessness, drug addiction, and education.

Vision for the city

Dealing with the issues listed above that are hurting our quality of life.

Link here to watch Ross Terrio’s candidate statement video via MPTV


Ward 11  Alderman

Normand Gamache

Normand R. Gamache (incumbent), age 81, is a high school graduate and is retired.

Qualifications

I was born and raised in Ward 11 and have resided in the ward my entire life. This is the part of the city that I raised my family. I truly care about the issues that affect our ward and our city. I work daily addressing and trying to resolve these issues. I was a firefighter in the city for 33 years, I have served my country in the armed forces, and I served on the elderly services commission for six years. I have the experience, knowledge and professional connections with my peers on the BMA, Mayor Craig and all of the department heads city-wide to resolve any issue that is presented to me.

Tax cap

I am in support of the tax cap as written.

Priorities

  1.  Public safety: One of my priorities (placing a ladder truck in service on the West Side) will become reality at the end of this month. Thanks to the effort of Chief Goonan along with the support of Mayor Craig and my colleagues on the board of Mayor and Alderman for agreeing with me and supporting my effort in placing this ladder in service full time.’
  2. Schools: Working to give our educators the respect that they deserve and the resources that they need so they can educate our children, the next generation, in a safe and nurturing environment.
  3. Infrastructure: I am in constant contact with the leaders at the department of public works to assure that our streets and sidewalks are clean, that our roads are maintained in all seasons and that my constituents’ concerns and/or needs are addressed in a timely manner. Manchester has vast potential, I am proud to call this city my home. Oftentimes the undesirable situations get more attention than the positive. The opioid epidemic along with the prevalent homeless situation mainly in our downtown area needs to be addressed. There is no easy answer but we are working on and committed to finding a solution. Longterm, I support controlled development in our city. I was pleased to be a part of the groundbreaking ceremony at CMC. This $150 million project will increase the hospital’s capacity and greatly improve the gateway to the West Side.

Russ Ouellette

Russ Ouellette, age 52, attended college and is service manager for Volvo Volkswagen of Lebanon.

Qualifications

Nine years on the Manchester Board of School Committee; five years Board of Mayor and Aldermen representing Ward 11. Current President Rimmon Heights Neighborhood Group, Hope for NH Recovery Board of Directors.

Tax cap

What tax cap?! Every two years we ask candidates the same question, and every two years we get the same answers. We all tell you how we respect and will abide by the cap, and every two years we elect the same people who vote to override the cap. Let’s try something different this election, let’s elect people who have a record of making difficult decisions to live within our means.

Priorities

Public safety, addressing the opioid epidemic, and neighborhood involvement.

Vision for the city

Manchester is a small city with big-city problems. We need to make our downtown more desirable for people to support businesses downtown. Many people do not feel safe bringing their families to a place where they are stepping over people sleeping on sidewalks and harassing them when patronizing businesses.

I think we should encourage our residents to become more involved in our neighborhoods. The Rimmon Heights Neighborhood Group is a prime example of great things that citizens can accomplish when we come together to make a difference. The group works with the Manchester Police Department to support our community police officers. We have adopted parks to maintain and assist the city to redevelop the boat launch at the Piscataquog River. Long-term, I favor rail travel to and from Boston if it makes financial sense for the city. This will give Manchester a better opportunity to attract more high-tech businesses while giving us better access to what Boston has to offer.

Link here to see Russ Ouellette’s MPTV campaign video


Andre Rosa

Andre Rosa, age 37, earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and works at Alert Innovation as a senior software developer. His website is www.nhdre.tumblr.com  

Qualifications

I have a wide-breadth talent stack. I’m smart, creative, research and science-oriented, and passionate. I listen. As an engineer, I’m trained to solve hard problems. That’s my talent stack, and it’s well suited for the job.

Tax cap

Respect it always. Confiscating more taxpayers’ money from their wallets to solve funding issues is just lazy thinking. What it takes is some creative thinking, research, and guts to execute effective policies to get the excellent City services we expect while still living within our means.

Priorities

Lower housing costs, incentivize developers to build on the West Side and empower local groups and businesses to revitalize the neighborhoods.

Vision for the city

Bringing housing costs down and letting developers build. This will improve our quality of life and help reduce the homelessness presence to boot. Bringing businesses into Manchester, too, will make the Queen City radiate. Unless we change our ways, Manchester will just end up as another, unaffordable suburb of Boston. Not on my watch! We are our own shining star on the hill! But that means we need to bring growth while not disenfranchising everyone but the wealthy.

Link here to watch Andre Rosa’s MPTV campaign video