MANCHESTER, NH — Business leaders gathered at the Puritan Backroom early Wednesday to get a window into understanding which mayoral candidate would do the most to boost economic development and move the city forward.
Mayor Ted Gatsas and Alderman Joyce Craig fielded a barrage of rapid-fire questions from moderator Scott Spradling before a crowd of about 160, who attended the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting.
About halfway through the gloves came off, as Craig and Gatsas briefly hijacked the Q&A, and went back and forth on the issues of honesty, leadership, the tax cap and whether Craig broke the rules of the debate by bringing notes.
The line of questioning began when Spradling asked each to describe their leadership style.
Gatsas said he leads with passion and “does whatever needs to be done,” while Craig said she was open to dialogue and would not “quit negotiations when the going got tough.”
However, from there things got heated, after Craig brought up an incident that was raised during Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting – a comment made by Gatsas during a previous campaign forum, in which he corrected a resident on his status as a refugee rather than an immigrant.
That prompted Gatsas to call out Craig for bringing notes to the podium, which he said was “against the rules” of the debate, which prompted Craig to say, “The mayor tells lies – that’s what he’s doing again, and that’s not something we need from the leader of Manchester.”
As Spradling attempted to move on, Gatsas said to Craig, “When you make a statement you stand by it; that’s what’s most important about trust and leadership.”
In their closing statements, Craig pointed out that Gatsas is content with the status quo, adding that she hoped the audience understood that she “saw opportunities” for change in the city.
Gatsas slung a final arrow in Craig’s direction by saying, “My opponent has great ideas, but I haven’t heard any of them yet,” adding that he is still waiting to hear how she proposes to pay for initiatives like bringing rail to Manchester.
The next mayoral forum is scheduled for Oct 16 at Webster Elementary School, 2519 Elm St., beginning promptly at 6:30 p.m. Event moderator will be Manchester Ink Link Editor Carol Robidoux.
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