Voters Guide 2019: Ward 1 Candidates

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Ward 1

Alderman

Kevin J. Cavanaugh (incumbent), is a state senator and works for Manchester, IBEW Local 2320.

What qualifies you to hold this office? 
I was born and raised in Manchester and understand what does and doesn’t work in Manchester.
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 always give out all my contact information so if people have an issue I can help them fix it.
Identify the biggest economic opportunities/challenges for the city and provide at least one initiative you would propose to improve economic development.
I feel the city should help businesses succeed and not impose restrictions to over-regulate them.
A large company is planning to move to Manchester, what would be your top three selling points?
Close to the airport, colleges in the area and the work ethic of New Hampshire residents.
What is the single-most important step we as a city can take to move the needle on homelessness?
I think the Mayor’s staff along with city department heads and state agencies working together is the single most important step.
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 think we should always be looking at ways to lower energy costs as well as protecting and improving the environment. If this committee would be looking at these issues I would be in favor of that.

Jeff Nyhan, age 39, is a real estate agent.

What qualifies you to hold this office?

I am qualified to hold this position because of my desire to work with the residents of the city to provide access to city hall and give a voice to the residents of Ward 1. I have been involved with the city for many years through different boards and commissions I have been a part of and I am hoping to take the next step and serve the residents as their alderman. I was born and raised in Manchester. My wife and I chose Manchester to raise our family, we believe in the good that the city has to offer. 

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

Engagement is key in local politics. Coffee with the Alderman once a month, neighborhood meetings quarterly, and an open line of communication for any issues my constituents may have. Neighborhood meetups are something that I would focus on in my ward. We need to be open and forthcoming about what is happening in our neighborhood and on our streets. Periodic neighborhood meetups would allow folks to meet their neighbors and discuss issues they may have directly with me.   

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

Some of our biggest opportunities are attracting business and industry to our city to set up operations. Manchester is a city that allows access from other parts of the state/ country, why wouldn’t businesses want to come here? We have a major airport in our backyard, we are close to some of the best workforce talent in the country, we have some of the best medical in the state right here in the middle of the city. The challenge we have is how do we present a “total package” to businesses and their employees that may move here. We need to market Manchester as a place everyone wants to live, work and spend their disposable income dollars. I will never talk ill of the city but we have our challenges and we need to correct these challenges to be able to show people that Manchester is a place that they want to raise their families and grow their businesses. 

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

Manchester has several great items to offer a company coming into the city, my top three would be 1. Multiple housing opportunities and business facilities throughout the city, 2. A major airport in our city, 3. A decent school system that with some improvement could rival the best school systems in the state. 

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

Homelessness in the city will not be solved by one action. It will take more than our city can handle to deal with this problem, we need to accept help from the state and federal agencies to even put a dent in it. What I do know is that when we decide on action items, we need to follow through on those items. We have come up with several plans over the last few years and nothing has been done with them. Without implementation, nothing will be accomplished. 

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?

The idea of this concept is wonderful, but at what cost to the taxpayer? We know that anything we can do to use renewable resources is better in the long run. However, the price tag that comes along with this has to be affordable to the residents of the city. I would not support something that would be outrageous for the taxpayers to financially support.


Board of School Committee

Amber Jodoin did not respond to the candidate questionnaire.


James Porter, 45, earned a BS in Political Science Education at University of Delaware. He is track/xc coach and personal trainer. Before starting a family he owned a restaurant and was the food service director of a large retirement community in Laconia.

Click here to see his website.

What qualifies you to hold this office? 
I come from a family of public school teachers and have an education degree from the University of Delaware. In my professional life as an entrepreneur in the foodservice industry, I owned a restaurant and ran large multi-level food service establishments. This experience allowed me to write and execute multi-million dollar budgets and handle large operations across different buildings.
I have board experience. I served on the board of our local YMCA and that experience has shown me that a diverse board with different ideas can function at a high level. They stayed laser-focused on making sure the members and employees had everything they needed to be successful. I would like the school board to be focused on the students and district employees in a similar way. We are here to serve them and promote their success.

I have also spent a lot of time inside our schools in recent years. I have been on the PTO at Smyth Road for three years and coached track and cross country in the city for the last eight years. Being inside these schools has given me a first-hand look at how great our schools are, and how we can improve them.

What will you do to get an agreement on a teachers’ contract?

I believe a completely different approach is needed. The members of the board are not professional trained negotiators. I believe we should follow the board of alderman’s example and hire an outside negotiator to do the six union contracts under our purview. The alderman outsourced the negotiations for Police and Fire unions recently and got contracts done quickly. Our process clearly isn’t working. Over the past 10 years our teachers have been working on an expired contract for four of those years, missing scheduled raises each time. This is unacceptable and has led to a lot of frustration and many great teachers leaving the district. The relationship between the board and teachers has clearly soured. In my opinion, the board should be the ultimate champion for our educators and students. They should spend their time advocating for resources so students have everything they need to succeed and the district can attract, pay and keep the best teachers in the state.
The state has sent $20.8M in one-time funding to the city. How would you propose spending that money?
First, I would take 10 percent and give every teacher a one time bonus since they missed their salary steps this year and four out of the last 10 years due to stalled contract negotiations. I would then use 80 percent to address the crisis of a lack of supplies, books and technology in the classrooms. I would empower Superintendent Goldhardt to ask the principals/teachers of each school what they need to make our kids successful and let the professionals pick the most pressing needs from there. Lastly, I always believe when you get extra money you should save for a rainy day so I’d put 10 percent towards the expendable trust which is almost depleted.
A young family is considering a move to Manchester, what would be your top three selling points?
  1. The booming downtown. When I moved here 14 years ago the mills were half empty and restaurant options were limited. Now, downtown is awesome. Colleges and tech companies have moved in. Hotels and theaters are being built, restaurants and other cool hangouts are everywhere.
  2. The proximity to so much outdoor fun. The city has awesome parks all over the city. Unlimited trail networks are available within a 10-minute drive to Lake Massabesic or Bear Brook State Park. Plus we are centrally located in NH so you are 45-60 minute drive away from the ocean, the lakes region, Boston or skiing/hiking in the white mountains.
  3. Your kids can get a great education in this district and have experience with a diverse student body that represents many different cultures. There are so many success stories from our schools. We do not hear about them enough.
What is the most important step the Board of School Committee can take to immediately improve all schools?
We should hire a full-time grant writer specifically for the school district. Last year we brought in $10.5 million for technology upgrades and the West HS redesign was initiated and implemented all because of grant funding ($800,000). There is over $12 billion in public and private grants available, many specifically for science and STEM initiatives that would help our students be prepared for the 21st-century economy. Other opportunities exist in infrastructure and energy efficiency improvements that we could be taking advantage of at no additional cost to the taxpayer. In recent years we have asked the city’s grant writer to help the schools for a few months. It’s time to have a full-time grant writer for the schools so we can strategically target the needs of our district and attract additional revenue streams to our great city.
How can MSD and the community work together to prepare today’s first-graders for a 2032 economy?
Technology and automation are coming at a faster rate than anyone anticipated. We need to continue to partner with local stakeholders to increase the opportunities for our students to get involved with the technology boom. STEM opportunities and internships need to be cultivated for the students headed to college and into the new workforce. But we must also expand our trade education in the district. College is not for everyone. And other opportunities for high paying jobs in the trades are out there. I recently renovated our house and every subcontractor was frustrated by the lack of workers available. Each one (carpenter, electrician, plumber, tile and HVAC) complained they were turning down business because they didn’t have enough help and were booking jobs 6-12 months out. You can make good money in the trades without the six-figure debt that often comes with college. We should investigate apprenticeships in these fields for our students who are interested