Voters Guide 2019: Alderman At-Large

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Alderman At-Large (2 Seats)

Vote for two candidates on your ward ballot.


Kate (Katie) Desrochers

Kate (Katie) Desrochers, 48, earned an associate degree and is a legal assistant to a Manchester law firm.

Click here for her Facebook page.

Qualifications

I am a lifelong Manchester resident, a proud alumnus of Manchester West High School, and a parent who just had my second child graduate from West High.  I have spent the last six years representing Ward 11 as a member of the Board of School Committee. I feel that it is time for me to put forth my efforts to focus on the city side of government to ensure that whatever issues the city is facing, the response to solving the problem is done intellectually, thoughtfully, and fiscally responsibly.  Whether this relates to city contracts; infrastructure improvements; public education; homelessness; and, the substance misuse epidemic.

Tax Cap

Overriding the tax-cap is a very serious matter because it impacts the residents of Manchester directly.  I believe that when a budget is put together it takes into consideration all measures of running the city and running the school district effectively, and salaries are a big part of that budget. In order to effectively run the city, I would support a tax cap override, because I believe that properly-funded departments are more effective than improperly-funded departments and we need to keep our infrastructure strong, which in turn attracts people to want to come live and do business here.

Priorities

First, I feel that education is underfunded. Right now, the school district faces some very difficult challenges with decreased enrollment; low-cost per-pupil spending; demands with salary; and a tax cap, that while important to control spending, strangleholds the school district from providing programming and resources that it so desperately needs. Properly funding education would be a top priority.

Like all big cities, Manchester has unfortunately seen an increase in homelessness.  To date, we have been unable to come with a single solution to this problem because there is not a single solution that will solve it.  A great first step has been made with the Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness which met several times to problem-solve around this issue.  We need to continue with these types of approaches in a deliberate and innovative manner.  We need to identify the many problems associated with homelessness and use a multi-disciplinary approach to finding solutions.  I certainly do not have the answers, but I absolutely have the willingness and desire to be deliberate and thoughtful in helping to find a solution; instead of being harsh, rash, or insensitive to this very large issue.

Another important issue that must be addressed similar to that of the homelessness issue is the substance misuse epidemic.  It is heartbreaking to me that people are literally dying and being brought back to life several times a day.  I believe that the Safe Station Program has been a godsend to the city and I give credit to the fabulous members of the fire department for initiating this service and continuing it day in and day out.  I believe that Safe Station is a start to the solution, but we cannot let it be our only answer, nor can we expect the City to manage it on its own.  We need help from the State and the Federal government.

Vision for the City

Manchester has the great fortune to be a city where people want to do business and are bringing their companies to take advantage of the great spaces that we have available for businesses.  An important role the city plays in attracting businesses is in keeping the infrastructure strong and up to date.  We also have many amazing green and public spaces where people are able to go to a park to relax, play disc golf, soccer, tennis, pickleball, hike around Dorr’s Pond, jog, walk or bike the rail trail, take the kids to the Splash Pad, to one of the city’s pools, or go to the library to pick up some reading materials, or join in a storytime or craft project with the kids.  We have all of these amazing opportunities because we have phenomenal employees who do a great job and care an awful lot for this city.

List specific ways you will engage with your ward constituents, including one initiative to improve the quality of life for residents of your ward.

Constituent services are very important to me. I have spent the past six years on the school board and have been very responsive to the constituents who have contacted me. I will continue to do that as an alderwoman at-large. Communication is key, and being easily accessible and responsive to people’s needs are what I will offer.

Identify the biggest economic opportunities/challenges for the city and provide at least one initiative you would propose to improve economic development.

The renovation of the millyard has been a tremendous boost to Manchester’s economy. We are fortunate to have had the space to attract companies to come here and I believe that we are moving in the right direction with the building to two new hotels nearby. One thing I would like to advocate for in Manchester is railway to Boston. If people could get to Boston by train from here, chances are really good that they would want to live here, given all that Manchester has to offer.

A large company is planning to move to Manchester, what would be your top three selling points?

Vibrant downtown, affordable housing, excellent schools.

What is the single-most important step we as a city can take to move the needle on homelessness?

We need to stop pointing the finger at who/what caused the problem and we need to work together to find solutions and we need to pressure the state and federal agencies to step in deeper to help us out. This problem certainly exists nationwide, but right now, Manchester lacks adequate resources to address this growing problem. The agencies we have here currently are doing phenomenal work, but they are stretched to the limit.

Concord NH this year established an Energy and Environment Committee which has drafted a strategic plan to have Concord get all of its energy from renewable sources by 2050. Is this something you feel Manchester should consider? Why or why not?

Absolutely! Our planet is dying and we cannot sit by and let that happen without meaningfully engaging in problem-solving around it.


William (“Will”) Infantine

William (“Will”) Infantine, 55, earned a bachelor’s degree in business from St. Michael’s College and is the owner of Aspen Insurance Agency.

Qualifications

I have been a business owner for 20 years, have represented Manchester at the NH Legislature for 14 years and served on a myriad of nonprofit commissions and boards. My experience and knowledge learned from these endeavor’s provides me with the background needed to serve as Alderman at Large.

Tax Cap

I support the tax cap and will not override it to pay for normal operating costs of the City. I would override it for emergency or other critical reasons.

Priorities

Crime, homelessness, drugs, graffiti, and blight.

Vision for the City

Develop Hackett Hill. Partnerships between the public schools and local businesses and local colleges. Short term suspension of Safe Stations to reestablish its goals. Provide the police with the tools they need to properly do their jobs.

List specific ways you will engage with your ward constituents, including one initiative to improve the quality of life for residents of your ward.
I would engage my constituents via social media and old-fashioned phone communication. I can also use Manchester Public TV to speak to the citizens about what is going on in the City.
Identify the biggest economic opportunities/challenges for the city and provide at least one initiative you would propose to improve economic development
The biggest opportunity the City has available is the Hackett Hill commercial property. It is a diamond in the rough and should be developed as either commercial or residential. The base infrastructure is in place and this would be one of my top priorities. The biggest challenge is the drug and homeless issue facing the downtown area.
A large company is planning to move to Manchester, what would be your top three selling points?
Stable tax rate with the existence of the tax cap, availability of an educated labor force and access to all areas of New England and the Country from our interstate system running through the City and the Airport.
What is the single-most important step we as a city can take to move the needle on homelessness?
Place a 90-day moratorium on the Safe Stations program for 90 days. Reconfigure how it is and is not working and re-establish with new rules and protocols. This combined with better management of bail reform will give the police the tools they need to effectively do their job.
Concord NH this year established an Energy and Environment Committee which has drafted a strategic plan to have Concord get all of its energy from renewable sources by 2050. Is this something you feel Manchester should consider? Why or why not?
I am wary of agreeing to any proposal with a 30-year window as technology is changing exponentially. This is a laudable goal and should be considered just as the solar array that unfortunately did not go forward at the Manchester landfill.

Joseph Levasseur

Joseph Levasseur (incumbent), age 58, earned a law degree and master’s in business administration. He has been self-employed as a restaurant owner and attorney, and he is a property owner and landlord.

Qualifications

He is an incumbent alderman, served three years as a member of the Planning Board, and is a host on Manchester Community Access TV. His website is www.JosephKellyLevasseur.com.

Tax Cap

It should always be adhered to unless there are extreme overriding concerns affecting public safety or crises outside the boundaries for which the tax cap was implemented.

Priorities

Responsible budgeting within the tax cap. Vagrancy issues affecting downtown businesses and our parks.  School choice for every city resident.

Vision for the City

Hug a thug doesn’t work. Holding vagrants and criminals fully accountable for the laws and city ordinances they break or violate would go a long way to improving the quality of life for everyone. Closing Safe Station, moving the homeless shelter out of downtown, getting rid of portable bathrooms in Veterans Park, and immediately cleaning up every overgrown and trash-filled dirty site, including any property with graffiti on it, anywhere in this city,  would make the world of difference.

Click to watch Alderman Levasseur’s candidate statement on MPTV

List specific ways you will engage with your ward constituents, including one initiative to improve the quality of life for residents of your ward.

I serve all 12 wards and love be able to do so. My email is listed on the city website as is my telephone number 622-7575. I am the only one that answers my phone and emails and do so promptly. For over 20 years I have hosted a community public access forum on channel 23. We take live calls and comments and bring on a wide variety of guests to answer questions. As far as a quality life issue I will continue to work hard on.

Making our city safer.

Identify the biggest economic opportunities/challenges for the city and provide at least one initiative you would propose to improve economic development.

As a four-year member of the Planning Board, I know first hand that the opportunities are boundless here in Manchester; but one big challenge I hear directly from developers and investors is the city’s burdensome and expensive regulatory structure. Impact and permit fees are too high and change of use ordinances too strict. The other major issue, especially for downtown development are the homelessness and crime issues. They are crippling our reputation and branding us in a negative light. We must work harder to re-brand Manchester as a reasonably priced investment with a focus on reducing homelessness to zero.

A large company is planning to move to Manchester, what would be your top three selling points?

The tax cap is the single most important tool we have in our economic belt. The rate of increases are tied to the CPI and gives businesses the assurance that taxes will not go up and down like a crazy roller coaster. Without it, tenants saw huge increases in lease payments when tied to payment of taxes. Location is also a major selling point as we are located close to Boston, Portsmouth and the mountains and people working for the company will love living so close to major recreational attractions. Airport, although it can be expensive to fly, trips planned in advance are reasonable-and our airport is first class. Financial moves have recently been made that, within 2-3 years, our airport will once again be more competitive in price and be able to attract additional airlines.

What is the single-most important step we as a city can take to move the needle on homelessness?

Buy them bus tickets to Florida.

Concord NH this year established an Energy and Environment Committee which has drafted a strategic plan to have Concord get all of its energy from renewable sources by 2050. Is this something you feel Manchester should consider? Why or why not?

2050? Is that supposed to impress us? We should be able to accomplish that in a much shorter time. All we need now is a mayor that is focused on Manchester and not the governor’s seat.


Daniel P. O’Neil

Dan O’Neil

Daniel P. O’Neil, (incumbent) age 59, attended college and trade school and works as an electrician.

Qualifications

Through my years of public service, the residents of Manchester know that I will always represent their best interests at City Hall.

Tax Cap

I have supported an override to maintain city services and for our school district when additional revenues are available.

Priorities

My priorities are public safety, our schools and our infrastructure.

Vision for the City

To invest in our students and their teachers.

List specific ways you will engage with your ward constituents, including one initiative to improve the quality of life for residents of your ward.

Continue to invest in public safety and invest in our schools.

Identify the biggest economic opportunities/challenges for the city and provide at least one initiative you would propose to improve economic development.

The city needs to be willing to invest in infrastructure and expansion of passenger rail would help to continue our economic growth.

A large company is planning to move to Manchester, what would be your top three selling points?

1) Great city services; 2 ) A great school district; 3) Great quality of life for all.

What is the single-most important step we as a city can take to move the needle on homelessness?

The city is contracting with folks from San Antonio, Texas, the national model for dealing with mental health, substance abuse and homelessness. They will provide short-term recommendations as well as a long-term plan.

Concord NH this year established an Energy and Environment Committee which has drafted a strategic plan to have Concord get all of its energy from renewable sources by 2050. Is this something you feel Manchester should consider? Why or why not?

YES, but need more details.