Voters Guide 2019: Ward 12 Candidates

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Ward 12

Alderman

Hassan Essa, 22, has been in the New Hampshire Air National Guard for over four years as an aircraft maintainer, holds a full-time job is at a technology company downtown and has a real estate license.

Click here for his campaign website. 

What qualifies you to hold this office?
I grew up in Manchester and attended the public schools here, am a recent college graduate of UNH Manchester, and have served in the Air National Guard for the last four years. I am passionate about my community and public service. If elected, I would be the youngest alderman in Manchester’s history, and would be replacing an incumbent who has been in office longer than I have been alive. It is time to bring a new perspective to City Hall and for improvements to be made across Manchester, and I believe that starts with electing a more diverse Board.
List specific ways you will engage with your ward constituents, including one initiative to improve the quality of life for residents of your ward.
It is imperative for public officials to make themselves available to constituents. I will take the time to meet with West Side residents and listen to their ideas, address their concerns, and answer any questions they may have. I plan to be as transparent as possible in my actions through the use of social media and other public platforms. I will provide straightforward summaries after each BMA meeting to ensure that my constituents are informed about the current happenings in Manchester. I also plan to host monthly public meetings at various locations across Ward 12 in order to give residents an opportunity to meet with me one-on-one.
Identify the biggest economic opportunities/challenges for the city and provide at least one initiative you would propose to improve economic development.
Among the biggest challenges in a city, economic or not, the common denominator is always the money. The general thinking is as follows: either make cuts or increase taxes to bring more money in. However, neither option is favorable, as cuts can make things worse and increasing taxes is not always necessary. Because of this, it is imperative to seek out funding in a variety of places. If elected Alderman, I would advocate for the hiring of a full-time grant writer. Many cities employ grant-writers to help bring in funding from outside sources. This could help Manchester avoid unnecessary tax increases on residents, while also not compromising on great programs and initiatives.
A large company is planning to move to Manchester, what would be your top three selling points?
The size: Manchester’s size is an asset. It is large enough to offer a diverse consumer-base but small enough for local and large businesses alike to make a meaningful impact on the city.
The economy: Manchester’s economy is thriving. We have many new businesses popping up downtown and new technology companies across the Millyard. Many investors and entrepreneurs are starting to notice Manchester as an up-and-coming hub to launch or continue their businesses.
Collaborative community approach: People in the community are willing to help each other out, and there are many organizations across the city to help ensure your business will succeed. There is a prevalent sense of collaboration across the city.
What is the single-most important step we as a city can take to move the needle on homelessness?
Some people would say the solution is to hire more police officers or close down Safe Station, but I believe it is important to recognize that our city cannot solve this issue alone. This means continual advocacy at the state and federal level to ensure Manchester is getting the adequate funding we need to combat both homelessness and the opioid crisis. For far too long, Manchester has not received the necessary funding to effectively care for our homeless population, which has led to the rising levels of individuals we see on city streets and in our parks. Our city simply does not currently have adequate shelter space, affordable housing, or outreach workers to most effectively help the homeless population get back on their feet. The situation is multi-faceted and requires collaboration from many organizations and departments across the city, but I believe that first and foremost we must be advocating at the state & federal level in order to ensure we have the necessary resources to tackle the problem.
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. Cities and states across the country have already started to feel the effects of climate change. What will our community look like in 30 years if we don’t make changes now? It has become increasingly important to take steps today that will help to prepare our communities for tomorrow and for the future generations to come. It will require proactive initiatives such as the one implemented in Concord to help work towards reducing the effects of climate change. Establishing a committee and drafting a plan would ensure that Manchester has a viable and affordable path towards renewable energy.

Keith D. Hirschmann (incumbent), 59, attended MCC for drafting, Hesser Business College, and  Boston University for Marketing. He is the owner of SecurityNet. He is is an incumbent alderman.

What qualifies you to hold this office?

Incumbent Ward 12 Alderman, 12 years.
List specific ways you will engage with your ward constituents, including one initiative to improve the quality of life for residents of your ward.
Cell 603-203-8123 email, Khirschmann@manchesternh.gov I visit constituents’ homes frequently when asked. I helped modernize our trash collection, by using automation. This saves us hundreds of thousands of dollars in worker’s compensation claims. Next, I want to employ weekly cleanup crews that go ward to ward, different weeks to start clean ward initiatives.
Identify the biggest economic opportunities/challenges for the city and provide at least one initiative you would propose to improve economic development.
We remain a city with old buildings ripe for renewal, which is drawing interest from many developers. The caution should be pricing our city “out of development “ due to impact fees and hidden costs to developers. Those are killers, and actually cause developmental sprawl to outlying areas like Hooksett and Bedford, ultimately harming our growth.
A large company is planning to move to Manchester, what would be your top three selling points?
Firstly, our local colleges are strong and constantly graduating tech, medical and financial workers. Our local business community is vibrant providing services without sales or income taxes. Next, our tax cap provides the stability in assessment of their property, which translates into budget and profit stability. Lastly, I would emphasize the strength of our Airport, which many large corporations rely heavily on for cargo and employer travel. BAE Systems just decided that Manchester is a worthy home based on our dynamic business climate.
What is the single-most important step we as a city can take to move the needle on homelessness?
Stop welcoming addicts here from around the State. Downsize Safe Station to those who live here. Outreach workers must engage those with mental health problems to get them into a psychiatric care facility.
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?
Having short-term energy goals is much more realistic. Technology changes at a very quick pace. We should entertain small achievable projects like solar and thermal. Small gains without tying the hands of future alderman and taxpayers is smarter.

Board of School Committee

Kelly Thomas (incumbent), 35, earned a Bachelor’s in psychology and is currently working on obtaining a doctorate in forensic psychology and clinical mental health counseling. She is in private practice as a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor. She is a former teacher and private school director.

What qualifies you to hold this office?
I am a mother of 9-year-old twins who currently attend Northwest Elementary School. I am aware of what is working in the district and what needs to be improved. I hold a degree in education as well as psychology. If I am elected for another term, my primary focus will be to gain additional support for students in our schools who are affected by the opioid crisis as well as their caretakers. Another focus is to provide teachers and support staff the tools that they need to be successful.
What will you do to get an agreement on a teachers’ contract?

I will continue to fully support the board’s special committee on negotiations who have been working hard to reach an agreement.

The state has sent $20.8M in one-time funding to the city. How would you propose spending that money?
I would propose funding be used towards resources that our teachers need in order to provide our students with an education they deserve. It is not fair to expect teachers to teach with little to no resources; they have been advocating for this.
I would propose funding be used towards resources needed to support children who are affected by the opioid crisis. For many, older generations are caring for children with little to no guidance or resources. I would propose funding be used to maintain our buildings; there are schools that have non-working toilets and sinks which is unacceptable.
I would propose funding be used to create a plan to decrease our homeless population. Individuals and families often turn away from the city’s beautiful establishments due to fear.
A young family is considering a move to Manchester, what would be your top three selling points?
My top selling point would be related to Manchester School District teachers. Teachers in our schools are fully committed to our students. Teachers in our schools are well educated, fun, and understanding; they provide support and guidance that students need to succeed. Second, there are various events the city and schools hold that are well worth attending. Lastly, the city’s unique dining restaurants and spectacular shows make for a great family night or date night.
What is the most important step the Board of School Committee can take to immediately improve all schools?
How can MSD and the community work together to prepare today’s first-graders for a 2032 economy?

Andrew Toland, 38, earned a BA and is a communications coordinator for SEA/SEIU Local 1984.

Click here to see his website.

What qualifies you to hold this office?

My biggest qualification is that I’m a parent of a student – eventually, two – in the school district. As a parent, I’m deeply invested but I’m also more plugged into what’s happening. I also believe that my background in communications will be an asset in this position. We need clearer channels of communication between our elected officials and residents, and I’d leverage modern communications tools to keep my constituents engaged and aware of what’s happening.
What will you do to get an agreement on a teachers’ contract?
Mutual respect goes a long way in collective bargaining – I believe that selecting a new bargaining team will be very beneficial to reach an agreement with our teachers. While teachers are the largest bargaining unit, it’s worth noting that all unionized school district employees are currently working without a contract. Ultimately, I believe the board needs to make the case for additional funding to our own constituents and to legislators as they craft the next state budget.
The state has sent $20.8M in one-time funding to the city. How would you propose spending that money?
Since it’s one-time funding, the money allocated for schools should be used for one-time expenses – and I’m certain our school district has a lot of them. I’m specifically thinking of books, technology and classroom supplies, but I think we need to ask our educators what they need. We hire them to do a job, and part of that is giving them discretion over how money is spent. I’m hopeful that Superintendent Goldhardt will include such input in the allocation of funds.
A young family is considering a move to Manchester, what would be your top three selling points?
1. Our schools are trending up. We have many talented educators, who work hard to provide cool opportunities for students, families and community members. 2. Manchester has a combination of affordability and convenience that our suburban neighbors simply can’t offer. We’ve got an airport, and it’s a quick drive to the Lakes Region, Seacoast, White Mountains and Boston. 3. There’s a lot happening right now. The renaissance that started downtown and in the Millyard is expanding with two new hotels, cool arts projects,
What is the most important step the Board of School Committee can take to immediately improve all schools?
Each and every member of the board should make it a habit to visit our schools and ask educators, administrators and students what they need from their elected officials. We need to build stronger relationships and a stronger community, and part of that is hearing what the people in our schools have to say and taking action on it.
How can MSD and the community work together to prepare today’s first-graders for a 2032 economy?
We need to continue to leverage community partnerships and involvement to provide our students with an array of educational opportunities and career paths. We need to ensure that our students have the soft skills and leadership ability that will enable them to succeed in all career fields.