Manchester Primary Voters’ Guide: Mayor

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Mayoral Candidates

There are three candidates on this year’s primary ballot.


Joyce Craig

Mayor Joyce Craig

Joyce Craig (incumbent), age 52, earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UNH. “I have the best job in the world – I’m the mayor of Manchester!” Her website is www.joycecraig.org.

Qualifications

I was born and raised in Manchester’s South End and am a graduate from Manchester public schools. After earning my degree in business administration from the University of New Hampshire, I worked as a marketing director for over 15 years at one of the largest advertising agencies in New England and at a biotech startup, developing strategic plans and managing multimillion-dollar budgets.

I got into public service 12 years ago because I wanted to help improve Manchester’s public school system for my children, and for children across the city. And while I’ve been Mayor for less than two years, I’ve made progress on the very issue that brought me here. We’ve stood up for students by allocating the largest increase in funding for our schools in 14 years, as well as securing over $11 million in grants and building new partnerships to ensure students are college and career ready.

And Manchester is on the move. By working together, we’ve not only made progress strengthening our schools – we’re growing our economy, improving our response to the opioid epidemic, and working to keep our city safe by hiring more police officers and increasing patrols downtown.

I am asking for the privilege of serving as your mayor for another two years so we can keep Manchester moving forward.

Vision for the Future

Over the years, Manchester has transitioned from an era of textiles to one of technology and higher education. Today, we’re a hub of innovation, bringing the best and brightest into the Queen City.

Through strong partnerships and a culture of entrepreneurship, we’re bringing fresh new ideas into our community, and we’re working to improve the health of our residents and our city.

By continuing to collaborate and work together, we’re going to build on the progress we’ve made. By working together, we’re going to build a stronger city that delivers the best quality education for our children, a clean and safe city that is bustling and vibrant, and a welcoming city that works together to solve problems.

Priorities

In my first term as Mayor, we have made great progress on addressing issues that matter to Manchester residents. However, there are still challenges we face. First, we must expand on the progress we’ve made in improving access to treatment and recovery programs for those suffering from addiction. After the state’s implementation of the Doorway Program in 2019, we’ve seen a rapid influx of people coming into our city, burdening our non-profits, hospitals and city resources. We’ve called on the state to finally recognize its role in combating this statewide epidemic, and ensure there are resources available outside of Manchester. Despite the state’s current failure to act, we’ve made progress. When I took office in 2018, we worked to improve our Safe Station program, decreasing the time it took to enter treatment from 2-3 weeks to 2-3 days. And in my first year in office, we saw the first-ever decrease in opioid overdoses and opioid overdose deaths.

Second, we must continue investing in the future by ensuring every Manchester student has the opportunity to receive a quality public education. In the budget I proposed this year, I was allocated the largest increase in education funding in 14 years. We need to continue to engage in innovative workforce training opportunities; and build upon the public-private partnerships we’ve developed in my first term, including Velcro University and Eversource Academy. We also must continue to seek out new funding opportunities for our students — like the GEAR UP grant we were awarded last year, which secured $10.5 million to help provide professional development to our educators and help our students become college and career-ready.

Finally, we must continue to build on the economic success we have seen in Manchester so all residents and families can succeed and thrive. By bringing in 800 new, high-paying jobs with BAE Systems, and adding cultural attractions like the newly-renovated Rex Theatre, we’ve made great strides in making Manchester a destination. However, as we continue to grow we need to make sure our economy doesn’t leave anyone behind. By investing in our roads, public transportation, bike and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure and community services, we’re opening doors to Manchester residents that will allow us to build a stronger city.

Areas for Improvement

Although there are challenges we face, in less than two years, we’ve delivered meaningful results for the Queen City. None of our progress happened overnight, and we must continue to tackle our issues head-on.

Our city still faces an addiction epidemic and increases in homelessness that we must come together as a community to address. In the last two years, we’ve convened the Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness and as a result held multiple public forums and hired a homelessness prevention coordinator to improve our response and services, increased funding for our shelter to be open during the day, and recommended changes to our city ordinances to address problems in our parks and in other public spaces. However, there is more we need to address, including more affordable housing and lack of services in other communities across the state.

And while we saw to decrease violent crime by 9 percent in 2018, we need to continue making Manchester’s neighborhoods safe. That’s why I am in constant contact with the police department, allowed the police department to hire an additional five officers, supported adding cameras downtown and increased patrols throughout the city.

In addition, while we’ve invested in our schools through the largest increase in our education budget in 14 years and secured competitive education grants, there is more we need to do in strengthening our public schools. Every day, our educators work hard to ensure our students receive a quality education, and they deserve a fair and sustainable contract. I’ll continue to work within my role as mayor to take any steps possible to support a contract for our educators.

Click here to watch Joyce Craig’s campaign video vie MPTV


Glenn RJ Ouellette

Glenn Ouellette

Glenn RJ Ouellette, age 66, attended some college and studied various disciplines. Works part-time at the Hooksett Home Depot; film and sound editor for Manchester cable access shows;  host for 14 years of a Manchester Public TV public access live weekly show; volunteer for many community organizations; a Fourth-Degree Knight of Columbus and served as a Ward election worker since 1991.” I have 28 years of sobriety and am proud of it.” More information via campaign Facebook page.

Qualifications

I have served on every government town and city board in Maine. I am a problem-solver and I know how to bring people together to solve problems. I’ve been on housing boards in Maine, New Hampshire, and Connecticut.  I am challenge-driven and a “jack-of-all-trades, master of none.” I’m interested in creating a realistic budget within the tax spending cap.

Vision for the Future

I have many: Recreate the Sky Show with a music and food fest downtown; activate more art in the city; hold ticketed concert events in Veteran’s and Arm’s parks; hold an annual birthday party for the city; create a plan for expansion of downtown’s Main Business District to extend from Elm Street south from Granite Street to Queen City Avenue and north from Bridge Street to Webster Street; bring a grocery store to the West Side; start to develop Hackett Hill business industrial park in creating new jobs, with a solar power plant at the old dump; keep 1- and 2-family housing zones in North and South ends and use the Density Housing Zones for higher condo/apartment buildings downtown and in center city in both the East & West sides; Work hard to create and attract new diverse jobs to the Queen City; create a plan to turn the airport into an international one.

Some of these are short-term while others are long-term planning to move the Queen City of Manchester forward.

Priorities

1. Always be open and transparent; clean-up the downtown; repair the Veterans Park public bathrooms; create a plan to solve our city’s homeless and drug addiction/mental health issues; hire a professional grant and foundation writer that would pay for itself.

2. Create a $100,000 project in each ward through a citizen’s committee that would help solve a ward-wide problem; create a part-time police and fire reserve to reduce overtime expenses while still keeping our city safe; more paving of streets and roadways and less patching; create a constant crosswalk downtown and paint crosswalks every spring; work toward more activity at the SNHU Arena including more trade shows and conventions, and bring back hockey within a year.

3. Sell the city/school condo on the West Side for $1.8 to $2 million and use the money to pay the bond; hold town meetings in each ward yearly. Increase our Neighborhood Watch Groups to 32; create unity between the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the Board of School Committee.

Areas for Improvement

Improve the 10-year Homeless Plan; create a 10-year school plan that brings our four high schools into special academic campuses. The buildings are already there and very little cost to achieve this; complete MSD redistricting in all schools. Add more Smart Traffic Lights for busy intersections; unity between the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the Board of School Committee.

Click here to see Glenn Ouellette’s campaign video via MPTV


Victoria Sullivan

Victoria Sullivan

Victoria Sullivan, age 51, attended Northern Essex Community College and is a consultant for UNH Early Childhood Education through the preschool development grant, which includes training kindergarten teachers in play-based kindergarten so that districts can comply with the new state law.  “I believe that education is a lifelong journey, which is why I still take courses online and attend trainings in different areas of interest.” Her website is www.VictoriaSullivanforMayor.com.

Qualifications

It is no secret that my candidacy for mayor is quite different than most who run for office. I am not a career politician looking to climb the next rung in a political career. Rather, I am a mother of two young boys, the wife to an incredibly supportive husband, and a proven community leader who cares deeply about our city.

My family is a blue-collar family like so many throughout Manchester. My husband has had to work multiple jobs to help make ends meet and I have spent many years as a stay-at-home parent raising our children. We have to make very difficult budget decisions around our kitchen table every month, but because of that, I understand the concerns many Manchester families face because my family is just like theirs.

Knowing the struggles facing our city, my commitment has always been and will continue to be based on making our communities a better place for our families and for future generations who will call the Queen City home. Before I had my children, I worked as a physical program coordinator for the YMCA. My job entailed creating and overseeing programs and budgets. I ran multiple departments and supervised over 20 employees.

In recent years, as a former New Hampshire State Representative and Assistant Majority Leader who served two terms on the House Education Committee, fighting for Manchester families became the core of my journey in public service. While serving in Concord, I fought to keep spending low, while also ensuring that citizens received the quality services their hard-earned tax dollars pay for. One of my proudest accomplishments was my work on legislation that gave parents a stronger voice in their children’s education. Through bi-partisan support, I was able to get play-based kindergarten passed into law. That law has been enthusiastically embraced by the early education educators across New Hampshire and used as an example for other states throughout our nation.

I have spent much of my life in commitment to our city. I started a volunteer-run drama club at my children’s elementary school and I have coached and volunteered for South Soccer, South Little League, and Highland Goffe’s-Falls basketball. I served as the PTA president for my children’s elementary school, which in turn led to my service on the New Hampshire PTA executive board. As a testament to my concern about our children’s future, I have spent countless hours volunteering for Manchester schools as a teacher’s helper and as a substitute teacher at a charter school. I also have had the privilege of serving as Selectman in Ward 9, and on the Manchester Heritage Commission where I focused on preserving our city’s past, while also seeking to prepare it for the future.

My combined experiences in the workforce, as a mother, and as an elected official, provide me with the attributes needed to work within a budget, prioritize spending, and manage several departments and employees. It also allows me to understand the importance of education, how to achieve positive outcomes, and how to work with people in a bipartisan fashion in order to achieve what is best for our city.

Vision for the Future

I love Manchester, both for what it was and for the potential of what it could be.

That is why I envision a Manchester that is safe from dangerous spikes in violent and property crime because we have a mayor who has worked diligently with law enforcement and appropriate city departments to make this issue a top priority.

I picture a Queen City where middle-class families can continue to afford to live because our mayor and aldermen are finally respecting the tax cap, prioritizing our budgets, and keeping municipal spending low.

I see a city where citizens and visitors are able to enjoy our beautiful downtown without concerns about a ballooning homeless population or spikes in crime and vandalism in the area.

I envision a Manchester where we finally work together to find lasting solutions to the opioid epidemic, one where we find meaningful reforms to our schools and educational system, and a municipality with long-term plans to repair our crumbling roads and bridges.

This Manchester can certainly be a reality, but in order to get there, we must recognize the many problems facing our city and be willing to work together to make our city a better place for current and future generations.

Priorities

Priority 1: Fight crime and resolve the issues of homelessness downtown.

It is a sad reality that weekly, and sometimes daily, Manchester is making the headlines for all of the wrong reasons. Crime is spiking dramatically, shootings are all too frequent, and the number of murders is increasing. If elected, I will not allow this to become the new normal in our city.

  • This is a serious issue that must be faced with a renewed focus on law enforcement and community-based solutions centered on a long-term plan rather than reactionary measures. I will work with our police department and community leaders to increase the number of beat officers, build stronger bonds in our neighborhoods, and create a more consistent presence on our streets.
  • I will focus on public safety issues surrounding the opioid epidemic and will work with our downtown businesses to address the dramatic increase in our homeless population.
  • I am committed to working with multiple departments and state agencies to remove gang-related graffiti from our bridges and overpasses in a timely manner and clean up blighted and abandoned properties that encourage illegal activity.

As a proven community leader, I will prioritize the need to find solutions to the crime issues plaguing our city. I’ll create an environment where we, as a city, can work together to make Manchester attractive to new businesses, new families, and visitors while making our current citizens proud to say that they feel safe living in the city of Manchester.

Priority 2: Keep taxes and spending low

We must hold the line on spending and prioritize our city’s needs, while always being mindful the Board of Mayor and Aldermen are the stewards of your hard-earned tax dollars. Families like yours and mine have to make tough budgetary decisions every month and the government should be expected to do the same.

Regrettably, just this past budget cycle, our current mayor refused to stand up for the tax cap and allowed it to be overridden. Those actions will now result in a property tax hike next year. My family, like most in Manchester, is a middle-class family, so I understand that the vast majority of people in our city can’t afford higher taxes. That is why Queen City residents can be assured that I will always fight to protect the tax cap at every turn.

  • I will work with every city department and agency to find and eliminate wasteful spending to ensure each and every dollar is always utilized effectively and efficiently.
  • I will always advocate for policies that will keep your taxes low and city spending limited and focused on areas that are beneficial to the needs of all Manchester families.

Priority 3: Improve education

  • I will always fight for policies that put parents and local leaders in charge of our children’s education, not government bureaucrats writing legislation miles away from the Queen City.
  • Despite consistent increases in funding, our schools are not performing at the levels they should be. As the cost of non-teaching staff consistently becomes our largest expense, the appropriate dollars are not making it into the classroom. That has to change.
  • I will work with the commissioner of education, teachers, parents, and the Board of School Committee to create a new approach to Manchester’s education system. We live in the largest city in the state. We should be leading in special education and should be the innovators in all areas that prepare our children for the future.
  • I will advocate for reforming our schools into a department instead of a district, which would help our city save on maintenance expenses and would assist in reducing duplicative staff. That would, in turn, allow for more dollars to make it into the classroom where they belong.

Manchester schools should serve as magnet schools that attract new students and act as a draw for more families to move to our community. If we come together, I am confident that we can achieve these goals and ensure that our children receive the highest quality education that they deserve.

Areas for Improvement

We all know that crime is spiking in Manchester. Murder, shootings and violent incidents are making the news weekly, and sometimes, daily. Gang graffiti covers our crumbling roads and bridges. Downtown businesses are suffering as a ballooning homeless population takes over their doorsteps. We desperately need a mayor who will work with law enforcement and leaders in our city and state to focus on community policing initiatives and increase the number of beat officers. For me, this is one of the most pressing issues impacting our city at the present time and the one most crucially in need of improvement.

Click here to see Victoria Sullivan’s campaign video via MPTV