Voters Guide 2019: Ward 5 Candidates

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Ward 5

Alderman

Marcus Ponce de Leon

Marcus Ponce de Leon,  38, earned a bachelor’s degree in communications and is COO for Certified Homecare Consulting.


What qualifies you to hold this office? 

I have lived my whole life in communities as diverse as Ward 5, and successfully managed operations for retail chains and small businesses alike. I have also served as a member on the board of directors for a non-profit organization focused on youth support services, and worked closely with municipal fire and police services as an EMT prior to relocating to Manchester. My diverse experience with community outreach and engagement, as well as extensive experience in management, have prepared me well to be attentive to the needs of the Ward 5 community, and an effective voice for our Ward as well.

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 plan to engage with Ward residents focusing on improving voter registration and participation. Ward 5 has historically low turnout in all election cycles, I would like to see this change, and will make efforts to partner with community groups to canvas and set up education events to get our community more involved in the process as a whole. I would also like to work with the Parks department to set up dedicated soccer fields for residents to enjoy.
Identify the biggest economic opportunities/challenges for the city and provide at least one initiative you would propose to improve economic development.
The biggest economic challenge for the city would be the number of bonds we maintain with interest payments instead of paying off. Accepting more and more credit without any real effort to pay any of it off is the definition of fiscal irresponsibility. There are areas of the city where economic development can be obtained at significantly lower costs than the Elm Street corridor, Two streets in my Ward that are great examples would be Lake Ave. and Valley Street. High traffic areas with low-cost real estate prime for economic development, and the existing infrastructure to support traffic in and out of both areas with relative ease.
A large company is planning to move to Manchester, what would be your top three selling points?
The convenience of MHT Airport, and the large number of highways for transportation and commuting in and out of the city are important selling points. I would reserve a third selling point to be one more directly complementary to their business model. which is unclear in this question.
What is the single-most important step we as a city can take to move the needle on homelessness?
We as a city have done more than any of New Hampshire’s other urban or suburban areas, and as evidence of that, we have received their homeless populations migrating here. I believe that our Mayor is taking that step today in engaging the State to step up and do their part in managing the issue.
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, Manchester should establish a strategic plan to get it’s energy from renewable sources by 2050 because we all need to do our part to slow the environmental destruction incurred by fossil fuel mining, mining waste and transport.

Tony Sapienza (incumbent) 59, is Assistant Business Manager for IBEW Local 1837.

What qualifies you (experience, background) to hold this office? 
Lifelong Manchester resident, 5 years on the board has given me insight and experience.
List specific ways you will engage with your ward constituents, including one initiative to improve the quality of life for residents of your ward.
Have and will respond to calls and emails, work to make sure ward 5 is included in all city planned upgrades
Identify the biggest economic opportunities/challenges for the city and provide at least one initiative you would propose to improve economic development
Rebuilding existing run-down buildings, I am currently working on an initiative to limit city discounts for residential buildings to owner-occupied only in an effort to encourage owner-occupied housing instead of absentee land-lording.
A large company is planning to move to Manchester, what would be your top three selling points?
Location, Location, Location
What is the single-most important step we as a city can take to move the needle on homelessness?
Coordinate service providers to get them all working in the same direction and stop attracting people from all over the state.
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?
We should take every opportunity to promote renewable energy but feel-good statements and pie in the sky goals are not especially helpful.

Board of School Committee

Jeremy Dobson, 38, earned a bachelor’s degree. He works for Elysian Technology in Merrimack as an IT sales professional consulting with large enterprises to ensure their data is available, secure, and useful for their business.

Click here to see his website. 


What qualifies you to hold this office? 

I have an education background. I’m a former middle school science teacher. I’ve been an IT manager at a university supporting thousands of students, faculty, and staff. I have also spent over a decade designing and implementing technology solutions for towns and schools that bring a 21st-century education to the students using them.

I’m also a father of two children in Manchester Public Schools. Hunter and Mackenzie are 1st and 3rd graders at Weston respectively. My wife Becca is a former teacher as well. She volunteers at the school several days per week and is in the PTO as well.

We’ve lived in the same house in Manchester for over a decade and have watched the city evolve, sometimes for the better but several times for the worse. I’m running to help make sure that we take full advantage of the resources becoming available to the district and build a momentum for our schools that carries the entire city forward.

What will you do to get an agreement on a teachers’ contract?
Find a way around the “non-negotiables” for both parties and ensure that we restart at from a platform of common ground for the school district, the students, and the city as a whole.
The state has sent $20.8M in one-time funding to the city. How would you propose spending that money?
There are multiple projects that could be tackled. The smartest way to use it would be to find ways to generate cost savings in future years on operational or recurring costs. For example, energy efficiency or solar investments could save the district money every subsequent year after the initial investment. Similarly, evaluating our technology and systems posture to identify platforms that may decrease annual costs I’m not sure how much more this form will accept so I’ll end there. Long story short, invest in the future or to catch up on debt to create funding in the future.
A young family is considering a move to Manchester, what would be your top three selling points?
Manchester is a great city.
  1. It’s big enough to have a little bit of everything.
  2. It’s not so big that you get lost.
  3. There is a strong sense of community and pride that will continue to drive the city to great things on the near future.
What is the most important step the Board of School Committee can take to immediately improve all schools.
Create a culture of trust and respect. Our educators and support staff need to feel appreciated. Quickly making progress on contracts across the district will help set the right tone for the newly elected board.
How can MSD and the community work together to prepare today’s first-graders for 2032 economy?
Same response as above.

Lisa M. Freeman, incumbent.