Any election cycle in Manchester can be interesting (and for people like me who love this stuff, somewhat exciting) but this year is special. I am not calling this year special because it is the year before state and federal elections (although it will be interesting to see if outgoing Mayor Craig runs for governor and if Governor Sununu runs for president).
This year is special because for the first time in a long time (as long as I can remember, at least) the mayoral seat is actually “up for grabs” as Mayor Craig is not seeking re-election.
So far, two people who serve as aldermen have announced their candidacy, which means that there will be (at least), two open seats on the aldermanic board. (I think there will be at least three because I anticipate another opening, but am not going to present names before any announcement is made). So there will not only be movement on the board, which fresh faces every so often is good, but new – or differently defined – priorities as well as a different leadership style will be coming to the mayor’s office this fall.
Elections are like strategy games… pieces are out and moves are made, except that Manchester’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen, (BOMA) game isn’t quite set up yet. I, for one, do not believe that the slate of mayoral contenders is full. As of the writing of this article we have Jay Ruais, Will Stewart, and June Trisciani running for mayor – all three are on our figurative game board.
But we still have the possible candidacy of Victoria Sullivan, Rich Girard, and Jim O’Connell as well as anyone else who decides to run. (There is still plenty of time considering the official filing period isn’t until July). It is important to start campaigning now though, especially when running for citywide positions. This is all the more important if you’re relatively unknown to most residents like Jay Ruais is… most people – even those who pay attention to city politics – don’t know much about him.
I’m not offering an opinion on whether being the “outsider” is good, bad, or both, but rather am stating that Ruais has more work ahead of him than someone who is already serving on BOMA or the Board of School Committee (BoSC), has served in other citywide or state positions, or has run for public office in the past.
In addition to those who have been previously mentioned, we have Glenn Ouellette, who has run for mayor in the past, as well as former alderman at-large and former Chairman of the aldermanic board Dan O’Neil. Will they enter the mayoral race? And what will Aldermen Cavanaugh (Ward 1) and Levasseur (at-large) do? As far as the vacancies left on BoMA, will O’Neil run to reclaim the alderman-at-large seat and will Dan Goonan run for an at-large seat again?
The 2023 Manchester election cycle is sure to bring many changes and a lot of moving pieces on our game board. With all the moving pieces of the 2023 Manchester election, I have decided to list a few things that help me – and I’m thinking may help you – when deciding who to support.
1)DO YOUR RESEARCH
Don’t form a decision based on signs, polls, tips from friends, or 30-second soundbites and social media ads. Find out what you can about the candidates. We live in an age when, even though local elections do not normally get a lot of coverage, we can easily and quickly find information about someone. Just type the candidate’s name in Google followed by “Manchester NH” to find some stuff about them. If looking for a specific thing, try the candidate’s name followed by Manchester NH and (for instance) taxes to see what the candidate’s real thoughts or actions are on that. Then contact the candidate through their website to ask questions about issues that are important to you. Doing your research and becoming an informed voter is vital to getting quality elected officials who will actually work to solve problems.
2)DO NOT VOTE SIMPLY BASED ON PARTY
Manchester elections are officially “nonpartisan,” but we know that the people who run are generally either Democrat or Republican and are often not shy about showing their political affiliation. But political party should not be the only reason that we support a candidate. After all, the winner is supposed to be serving the People, not the party.
3) LOOK FOR A CANDIDATE WHO WILL LISTEN TO ALL OPINIONS, EVEN IF AT ODDS WITH THEIR OWN.
Those who run or hold political office love to speak and want you to hear their opinions, but do they seek the opinions of others? Are they willing to or do they have a record of working with others to solve a problem? What have they done in the past to solve the issues that are important to you?
4) WATCH OUT FOR NEGATIVITY AND DEFLECTING
I am not a fan of negativity in politics for the sake of character assassination. Is the candidate being negative toward another but not detailing what they would do? I would much rather know what the candidate will do to solve the issues that face Manchester. Frankly, I know what the issues are in the city…three major issues are in the news on an almost daily basis; the opioid problem, homelessness, and the lack of truly affordable housing. So my question is how the candidates are going to work to solve the issues…not grandstand or place the blame, but actually work to solve.
5) BEWARE OF “PAPER CANDIDATES” OR THOSE WHO RUN JUST TO REPRESENT “THEIR PARTY.”
A “paper candidate” is one who places their name on the ballot in order to siphon votes from another candidate – or the “other side’s” candidate. They usually only have signs and do not work to engage voters; the only objective is to beat the “other side.” This annoys me for many reasons, but mainly because they are having a person “run” to trick people into voting for them and not the person who is out busting their tail to get votes. There may be good arguments about how both sides have falling off the cliff or are becoming super extreme on a national level, but this is local. Let’s keep it local by not assigning the actions of national politicians to local officeholders.
6) BEWARE OF CANDIDATES WHO DON’T PUT THE WORK IN
I was going to stop at five, but this is too important. Consider the amount of work that candidates are doing to earn your vote. Because if they only spend time in certain areas or if they don’t work now, how will they be if elected? Case in point: during the 2022 state elections, we had state-level candidates who did not walk, (at least not in our neighborhood), did not reach out, and ran no social media ads that targeted me, the voter. The candidate did nothing except maybe put a few signs out. So my impression was that the candidate depended on the fact that they were of a certain party and the “party faithful” would vote for them. They assumed that we would vote for them. Then after losing by a significant margin took to Facebook to lecture us on how the number of non-votes was high and that everyone should vote. The fact is that people did not vote for them because they did not work for it…they assumed that because they ran from a certain party that they would get the votes, It doesn’t always – and should not work that way. We need to vote based on the issues, not the party.
Well, that was my top six. Sit back and Enjoy the upcoming 7 months of Manchester’s strategy game/election cycle. As always, comments are welcomed at email@example.com