Voters Guide 2019: Ward 6 Candidates

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Ward 6

Alderman

Gerry R. Gibson, 44, is a junior ROTC instructor at Alvirne High School.

What qualifies you to hold this office?
Through a lifetime of service, I have served on boards and committees at various levels. My leadership experience enables me to be responsive to the needs of those I serve.
[Due to a technical error the remainder of Gerry Gibson’s responses were not tabulated. Please check back soon for the rest of the questionnaire responses. – Editor]

Elizabeth Ann Moreau (incumbent),  32, attends SNHU and is self-employed in transportation and retail.

What qualifies you to hold this office?

Experience, Army: five years; Homeland Security/Immigration: three years; Veterans Affairs: four years; mother of two and wife, looking to improve our quality of life and education here in Manchester to ensure my children have a great place to thrive in.
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 on being more available for constituent services in my next term. I will have more time dedicated to outreach and community events and will be a frequent friendly face who is available for all city issues. Specifically in Ward 6, I would like to see our contract with waste removal enforced to the contract. Many residents follow the rules and end up with yard waste rotting in their front yards because of delays that can be from a day or two to a week or more. I will also be organizing a volunteer group to assist some of our elderly and fixed-income residents with things they may need help with such as yard work, connection to other community resources etc. We are stronger as a community, and we can build a better community by being there for our neighbors.
Identify the biggest economic opportunities/challenges for the city and provide at least one initiative you would propose to improve economic development.
Perception! We need to address issues that affect our perception from those contemplating the move to Manchester. Most noticeably our schools, aggravated crime, and opioid issues. I would like to have the school superintendent conduct a new curriculum search, and get an estimate of the total cost needed so that we as a city can begin finding funding and budgeting to make this happen. (Comprehensive K-12 textbooks, in-services for teachers, etc.) Continue working with our non-profit partners to address issues which lead to repeat drug use, and fine-tune our Safe Station process to allow the state to handle their fair share of this epidemic.
A large company is planning to move to Manchester, what would be your top three selling points?
1)Diversity: Manchester attracts all sorts of great candidates for employment. With the thriving Millyard bringing more tech-savvy individuals, to our college student base in UNH and SNHU. 2) Location: Great central location which makes a perfect place for their employees to consider making their homes (Seacoast, mountains, Boston all within an hour or so drive). 3) Potential: We are a growing “small city,” our potential for bigger and greater things is unlimited.
What is the single-most important step we as a city can take to move the needle on homelessness?
Housing. We need to focus on initiatives that would see developers create workforce style housing. This would also require the help of state-level resources.
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?
Renewable energy should be discussed and researched for our city. We need to look at the benefits vs cost and feasibility. Any idea which may have a greener outcome for the next generation should be given serious thought. However, I am not for imposing ordinances or rules that would leave residents at a disadvantage/substantial financial burden.

Board of School Committee

Dan Bergeron (incumbent), 57, earned an MBA in Applied Management.

What qualifies you to hold this office? 

When I was initially appointed to the BOSC in March of 2013 and August of 2015 (elected in 2015, and 2017), I quickly discovered that the time spent with students and educators as one of the many Manchester School District parent-volunteers allowed me jump right in, make decisions on their behalf, coupled with the parent/volunteer/community perspective. My experience as an adjunct instructor, small business owner, transit commissioner, along with sales and marketing at Connect, and IBM, provided the confidence needed to represent all stakeholders that are impacted by our decisions.

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

I’m confident I’m not alone in my response to continue supporting the ongoing contract negotiation effort of our sub-committee by continuing to listen intently to the detailed communication updates, all while asking clarifying questions. I’m reminded of the relevance of BOSC Policy 102, which states “all powers of the Board lie in its action as a corporate body”, and “individual Board members may not exercise authority over District affairs”. There is confidence in consensus.
The state has sent $20.8M in one-time funding to the city. How would you propose spending that money?
Although BOSC members vary in focus areas, as a board, the budget process has been effective in creating consensus on priorities based on the sustainability and the appropriation provided us by the BMA.
That being said I’ve been verbal about additional investment in:
  1. Branding / marketing / communication professional to ensure we are communicating all things MSD in a timely, accurate, and engaging format. UPDATE: Superintendent Dr. Goldhardt supports and recently posted a “Director, Communication & Community Relations” position to the Employment section of MSD’s website.
  2. Guidance counselors, especially in middle school; alleviating barriers, not choices.
  3. Athletics: a) Reinstate a full-time Athletic Director from part-time. b) Thoughtfully expand athletic offerings, yielding gains in participation / enrollment, student focus, academic outcomes.
The investments build a brand and reputation that attract top candidates, retains current staff, all while reducing the high cost of turnover for MSD, and Greater Manchester.
A young family is considering a move to Manchester, what would be your top three selling points?
In 2013, I asked an elementary student to help design my lawn sign. She drew three graphics: a home (representing our communities), a school, and city hall.
The three must work together for the success of all three; as a result, Selling Point One is the Manchester School Strict, and/or other educational options, ensuring choice for all learning styles, interest areas, or discovering varied fields.
That leads me to Selling Point Two: The City of Manchester, which is collaborative by design, between business, pre K-12, higher education, nonprofits, and city services, just to name a few. Civic engagement is not required, but it’s evident. Just ask the Presidential Candidates who spend much time with us!
Selling Point Three is the prospective student, and their community. It is exciting to anticipate what our newest, or returning fans have to offer each other. Whatever it may be, rest assured this city and school is ready for you, and your contribution!
What is the most important step the Board of School Committee can take to immediately improve all schools?
On May 14, 2018, the Board of School Committee’s (BOSC) endorsed Manchester Proud’s proposal to work alongside the Manchester School District (MSD) and the community to raise funds, develop, and implement the next five-year strategic plan. Although we knew it was an important step, it was gratifying to witness the immediate impact the engagement had on our schools and community. It sparked stakeholder investment, and in some cases, a re-invested contribution to both the short and long term sustainable success of the MSD, and Greater Manchester.
Provided are some of the data points from Reaching Higher NH and 2Revolutions presenting the Visioning, Organization Effectiveness, and Finance Phases during Manchester Proud’s Workshop with the BOSC on October 16, 2019. You can look forward to additional MP / BOSC events soon.
  • Presented about Manchester Proud to school staff in 18 schools.
  • Attended and/or presented at 27 school events for families across 19 schools.
  • Canvassed all 12 wards with over 110 canvassers who knocked on over 2,000 doors and held in-depth conversations with 482 residents.
  • Hosted 4 Town Halls.
  • Developed, launched, and analyzed the community survey, which was offered in 6 languages.
  • Respondents who completed the community survey totaled 983.
  • Hosted 39 school-based listening sessions.
  • Hosted 9 full-day office hours.
  • Held 1:1 interviews with 22 principals.
  • Held 42 additional 1:1s with community members. School-based sessions participants totaled 353
How can MSD and the community work together to prepare today’s first-graders for 2032 economy?
Community partnership has always been at the heart of the way MSD does business. Every decision must be in line with both the Mission and Vision Statements.
IT IS THE MISSION OF THE MANCHESTER SCHOOL DISTRICT, IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE COMMUNITY, TO INSPIRE AND EMPOWER ALL LEARNERS WITH THE KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS, AND EXPERIENCES ESSENTIAL FOR THEM TO REACH THEIR GREATEST POTENTIAL.
As an example, please refer to the response to this question: What is the most important step the Board of School Committee can take to immediately improve all schools

Jon DiPietro earned a BS in Electrical Engineering and has been a self-employed digital marketing consultant for 22 years. Click here to see his website. 

What qualifies you to hold this office? 

I’m a 27-year resident of Manchester with four daughters who have spent more than 30 collective years in the Manchester public schools. I’ve been an award-winning volunteer leader for 20 years with the International Society of Automation, having served on its executive board, chaired its finance committee, and am currently Treasurer. I am also on several other non-profit boards and previously served on the board of trustees for a private school in Manchester.

What will you do to get an agreement on a teachers’ contract?
We need to build on the good work of the bipartisan negotiation committee and address the concerns of the teachers to the extent that our tax cap will allow.
The state has sent $20.8M in one-time funding to the city. How would you propose spending that money?
My first priority would be to use this money for curricula development and updating textbooks. Next, I would address the district’s aging technology infrastructure.
A young family is considering a move to Manchester, what would be your top three selling points?
My top-three selling points for Manchester are its economic opportunities, cultural offerings, and overall life conveniences. I’m a NH native and my wife and I have raised our children in Manchester, calling it our home for 27 years because of these strengths.
What is the most important step the Board of School Committee can take to immediately improve all schools?
We need to get back to basics and focus on outputs instead of inputs. Our kids’ academic achievement levels have steadily decreased over the past decade as we continue to adopt unproven educational fads and focus on other priorities that do not correlate with improved education outcomes. We’ve also seen the benefits of blended learning techniques right in our own elementary schools. Applying the one-time funding to solidify our curricula and implement blended learning with a goal of math and language literacy – not soft skills – would immediately improve all schools.
How can MSD and the community work together to prepare today’s first-graders for 2032 economy?
We can’t know and shouldn’t pretend to know what the 2032 economy will look like. What I do know is that math and language literacy will still be important skills 100 years from now. We’re so focused on so-called 21st century skills that we’ve failed to notice that our kids are failing at an 11th-century language and 3rd-century math. Roughly half of our students do not meet basic competencies in either. They’re literally a thousand years behind and we’re worried about the next 13?