Voters Guide 2019: Ward 8 Candidates

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Ward 8

Alderman


Michael Farley, age 60, is a construction executive for a local steel fabrication company.

What qualifies you to hold this office? 

Life-long Manchester resident, life-long volunteer, community activist and advocate, former Ward Selectman, former State Representative (2 terms), Manchester Heritage Commission (7 years, 3 as chairman), President of local non-profit (4 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.
I believe this is actually an issue in Ward 8. If I am fortunate enough to be elected Alderman, I will continue to make my cell phone number available to constituents, as I have throughout the campaign, and will promptly respond to all constituent calls. I intend to organize outreach meetings on a regular basis, and to visit our fire stations, schools, etc. as frequently as possible. I also intend to stand up a new social media platform for the ward that will be much more welcoming, positive and respectful than the current approach.
Identify the biggest economic opportunities/challenges for the city and provide at least one initiative you would propose to improve economic development.
We have many economic opportunities as well as many challenges here in Manchester. Among our greatest opportunities is our potential to tap into our existing infrastructure and workforce to attract new businesses and high paying jobs to Manchester. One obvious opportunity we should seize upon ties directly into this, and that is the need to bring commuter rail back to downtown Manchester, and to include in that plan a station at the airport that would serve Ward 8. Among the biggest challenges which directly affects quality of life in Manchester is the lack of affordable housing. I will work with our legislative delegation to reduce downshifting of costs and bring property tax relief to Manchester property owners, in an effort to stimulate growth in affordable housing.
A large company is planning to move to Manchester, what would be your top three selling points?
  1. Our vibrant and diverse higher education opportunities for recruiting a highly educated and motivated workforce.
  2. Our ideal location and transportation system (including a great airport and highways and the promise of renewed rail service) make Manchester a great place for businesses to set up shop, and for their employees to live, play and work.
  3. What I call the “Manchester Can-Do Attitude” is an infectious positive feeling in the air we breathe, and is evidenced by the city’s resilience, volunteerism, and commitment to face and overcome any challenge.
What is the single-most important step we as a city can take to move the needle on homelessness?
We need to focus our local leadership, work with our state and federal representatives, and seek all other available resources, including federal and private grants, to put together a program of economic incentives to promote renovation and development of affordable workforce housing. We also need to work with the legislature and state agencies to address the negative impact of elitist restrictive zoning and make sure surrounding towns are doing their part to provide workforce housing for their local cops, firefighters, teachers, librarians, etc.
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. Reliance on fossil fuels is on the decline and must eventually be reduced as much as possible. Renewable energy is the wave of the future, both as a source of power and as a source of good local jobs. Manchester has the potential to convert our old landfill, city property with no current valuable use, into a solar farm that would generate enough energy to power every municipal building in the city. It’s a no brainer.

Micheal Porter, 52, is an attorney who works for the State of NH, Office of Professional Licensure and Certification, New Hampshire Real Estate Commission, Investigator / Prosecutor.

Click here to see his website.

What qualifies you to hold this office? 

As a former investigator in the criminal justice system for nearly 25 years and a licensed attorney in good standing in New Hampshire and Massachusetts since 2014 and 2015 respectively, I have a unique ability to identify and thoroughly investigate issues using facts, and then apply those facts to make informed decisions. As an attorney it is important to understand both sides of an issue and while no two sides will always agree, finding commonality on issues creates the building blocks toward solutions.
As a lifelong resident of Manchester, where I currently raise my family, I have a vested interest in ensuring decisions made at city hall are in the best interest of Ward 8 and the city as a whole. I have two children currently enrolled in the Manchester Public School System and my oldest daughter is also a graduate of Manchester Public Schools. I have always been a vocal non-elected leader as it pertains to issues facing the city and Ward 8. Whether the issue involves education, crime, development, or other issues I have been a non-elected citizen voice advocating for the best interest of the people.
If elected as the Ward 8 Alderman I will be a strong, vocal representative for the residents of Ward 8 and the city as a whole.
List specific ways you will engage with your ward constituents, including one initiative to improve the quality of life for residents of your ward.
Under the leadership of Jimmy Lehoux and John Cataldo Ward 8 has regular in-person ward meetings which has attracted residents not only from Ward 8, but from other wards. Holding these open meetings is vital to communication with constituents. We live in a day and age where most communication occurs over social media. Hosting in-person meetings quarterly will allow the Ward 8 resident and others to have up-close and personal communication with not only elected representatives, but with City Department heads who appear as regular guests.
Identify the biggest economic opportunities/challenges for the city and provide at least one initiative you would propose to improve economic development.
We cannot forget another innovator, Dean Kamen. Mr. Kamen’s vision for Manchester continues to add to the economic growth we see today. We must continue to work closely with Mr. Kamen to ensure there are no lost opportunities.
I would propose making Manchester an attractive destination for visitors and businesses by making efforts to make Manchester a more welcoming city. One way to do this is to designate gateways to the city (South Willow Street) and make improvements. For example, make South Willow Street a little less dreary. When travelers fly in and out of the city, one of the first major intersections they reach is around South Willow Street. This often times is the entryway or first impression of the city. I would like to work collaboratively with business owners on South Willow Street in a partnership to make the southern section of South Willow more inviting and appealing to the eye. First impressions go a long way.
A large company is planning to move to Manchester, what would be your top three selling points?
  1. Location, location, location. We are one hour north of Boston, 1 hour West the seacoast, and a little over and hour south of the White Mountains. There is literally something for everybody to do within an hour’s drive.
  2. Schools. I know many are down on the schools but Manchester offers high-quality education. When you see the number of students enlisting in the military, working in the trades, or heading to a 2- or 4-year college you will find our education system is working exceptionally well.
  3. Entertainment. Manchester has the SNHU Arena, Delta Dental Stadium, the Palace Theater, and now the REX is re-opening. There are many entertainment opportunities however, in order to ensure these venues remain we must clean up the downtown area.
What is the single-most important step we as a city can take to move the needle on homelessness?
Homelessness is not a political issue. It is a societal issue. City leaders cannot dictate rental rates but we can require contractors who come into the city who erect apartment buildings they shall make a portion of those apartments affordable. We hear the phrase “workforce housing” bantered about when a contractor wants to come into the city and build an apartment complex. When you look at the rents I often wonder how is this “workforce housing.”
There is no one solution to homelessness. In some instances I would ask what is a homeless person willing to do to help themselves? If offered an opportunity would they take it? I understand some believe homelessness isn’t a choice and in some instances that is true. In other instances homelessness is a choice. Some do not want to follow rules. Some don’t want to tackle the responsibility of ensuring they have funds to meet their monthly rent. Either way, homelessness is not a political issue but rather it is a societal 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?
While I do believe we could make efforts to draft a plan whereby the city would research what aspects of renewable energy the city could use, we have to remember, we live in an area where the climate mandates use of fossil fuels for survival. Communities who claim to have moved toward 100 percent renewable energy are not necessarily using 100 percent renewable energy. Many of these communities making this claim purchase power from VPPN (Virtual Power Plant Networks). Problem is the VPPN may not be transmitting the power from 100 percent renewable energy.
I would not make a guarantee to move toward 100% renewable energy by 2050. I would however be willing to begin studying what the city could do as a pilot, which could be studied from an environmental and financial impact before promising the entire city would move toward 100% renewable energy.

Board of School Committee

Jimmy Lehoux (incumbent), 43, works for Procon as a Subcontractor Ambassador.

What qualifies you (experience, background) to hold this office?

I am a taxpayer of Manchester and I am a concerned parent with two kids in the Manchester School District.
What will you do to get an agreement on a teachers’ contract?
I have been intimately involved with the Union contracts. I agree 100 percent that we need a fair contract for all the bargaining units. But we also need a fair contract for the taxpayers of Manchester. I am on the negotiating team and I have done my very best to walk that razor’s edge in giving the best we can to the teachers but also respecting the tax cap. I also believe we need to do our best to change the climate and culture of our district as a whole. Renowned business author Peter Drucker once said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Our current culture is one of distrust, negativity, and even sabotage. Addressing these issues will take more than a pay raise. I have brought several proposals to the bargaining units that bring back the professionalism to teachers, administrators, para’s and secretaries. We have a lot of work to do and bringing out of the box ideas to the table as I have done gets everyone thinking what can be, instead of what has always been.
The state has sent $20.8M in one-time funding to the city. How would you propose spending that money?
The Superintendent will assess our needs and bring them to the board. Currently, he is looking at an elementary reading program and that is something I would whole-hardheartedly support.
A young family is considering a move to Manchester, what would be your top three selling points?
  1. The south end of town is amazing and the neighborhoods are quiet.
  2. If you get involved in your local school and engage with teachers and administrators your child’s experience will be just as good or even better than any surrounding districts because of all the programs that are offered.
  3. You are within a 15-minute drive to great local eateries, entertainment, and shopping.
What is the most important step the Board of School Committee can take to immediately improve all schools?
Complete a “program mapping” study within each school. Because of the silo effect we currently have from one school to the next each school runs independently of one another and in turn competes for outside programs. The board should know where these programs are and what programs would affect different schools better. The board never questions why a program would be at one particular school when the need for such a program may be greater somewhere else. Instead of the outside programs telling the district where they want to be, the district should have the ability to tell those programs were they are most needed. right now it is, whoever finds them keeps them and that may not necessarily complement our long-term strategic plan in the district.

Peter R. Perich, 66, is a retired teacher and assistant principal.

What qualifies you to hold this office? 

41 years of teaching, coaching, and being an assistant principal.
What will you do to get an agreement on a teachers’ contract?
I believe that both sides have worked really hard to sell their points of view, but at this time they have hit crossroads. New people on both sides of the negotiation table should help. At one time our school district was in the top 5 of the state in teacher salaries but in the past couple of years we have been in the bottom 5 of the state. It is important that we negotiate a fair contract with a decent wage as we need to keep our quality teachers.
The state has sent $20.8M in one-time funding to the city. How would you propose spending that money?
Because we have a new superintendent, I would allow him to have a first look at what he would like to do with the money. If he asked me for input on the additional money, I would look at the following areas.
  1. Professional Development for our city staff has always been behind the rest of the state. Our high population of English Second Language and Special Education students makes it necessary for an aggressive professional development plan for our educators.
  2. The technology is our district has always lagged behind. There is much to be done in this area.
  3. We need to look at fixing some of the infrastructure at many of the schools as our city and schools grow older.
  4. I know that our new superintendent would love to develop a reading program for our younger students.
  5. Find a contract resolution for all employees.
A young family is considering a move to Manchester, what would be your top three selling points?
As a school district, we still offer a variety of excellent programs to meet the needs of all types of students. We have dedicated teachers and school professionals at all levels of our schools. We have a diverse population which will enrich our students and prepare them to live in our current society. Most students who graduate from our high schools, depending on family finances, go onto the college of their choice to prepare them for the job of their choice. As a city, we have much to offer from places like the SNHU Arena, the Palace and Rex Theatre, the Mall, the movie theaters, the many different restaurants, and of course, the many faith/church-related offerings.
What is the most important step the Board of School Committee can take to immediately improve all schools?
As a Board of School committee, we need to help develop better professional development opportunities to match the diverse population of our schools. We need to work with our professionals to develop curriculum with the scope and sequence that has a purpose for our students. We need to understand our role as policymakers and not micromanagers. Decision making must match our district’s vision and mission. There needs to be a united front when trying to improve our schools and everyone on the board needs to agree.
How can MSD and the community work together to prepare today’s first-graders for a 2032 economy?
The need to look at our preschool and kindergarten programs are important. We need to see how to make more innovative programs in our district that are technology-based to integrate technology into the life of our students. One program may be a community outreach program to help new parents in developing the educational needs of our younger children.