MANCHESTER, NH – Theodore “Ted” Gatsas has been at the heart of political life in Manchester for decades, and numerous well-wishers came before the Board of Aldermen on Tuesday night to thank him as he leaves office early next year.
For just over an hour at the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting, Gatsas received a constant stream of gratitude from a broad swath of the community, culminating in a standing ovation.
Many simply thanked the mayor for his efforts throughout a career of public service, sharing anecdotes on how Gatsas helped them, their organization, or the city as a whole.
The thanks also came from across the political spectrum as well. Tammy Simmons emotionally thanked Gatsas for keeping her property taxes down in contrast to the previous years when the mayor’s office was in Democratic control.
Gatsas also received praise from former Manchester Education Association president Ben Dick.
Dick recalled the time his four-year-old daughter asked if Gatsas could fix a pothole in front of their house, and Gatsas did it, or the time Gatsas helped Dick and other teachers close off streets to help students at Memorial High School with a film project.
Although Dick and Gatsas often were at odds on educational issues, Dick appreciated how Gatsas was constantly candid and civil despite disagreements.
“I can say in all of my experiences with you, I could look past the opinions and see the person,” Dick said to Gatsas. “And you could look past your opinions and see me as a person.”
Dick’s comments regarding Gatsas’ magnanimous efforts to support Manchester residents of all political persuasions echoed throughout the evening, including two former mayors from both major political parties: Ray Wieczorek and Robert Baines.
Baines specifically recalled a time several years ago when Gatsas helped with an unspecified personal issue in a time when Baines was desperate and losing hope.
“You’ve provided hope to a lot of people,” said Baines. “I wanted to thank you personally for your friendship and say it’s an honor to be your friend.”
Along with Gatsas’ willingness to help all Manchester residents, those in attendance also focused on two recurring thread of his eight years in office: Gatsas’ efforts to help Manchester’s schools and initiatives to fight the ongoing opioid crisis.
Gatsas was grateful for the cavalcade of kind words, praising his staff and the Board of Aldermen while trying to withstand the emotional pull of the moment.
“Yeah, you broke me down,” he said to the audience near the end of his remarks. “But for good reasons.”