A race is pretty boring without an opponent

Despite all my efforts here, I was unable to goad any of the people mentioned into running. I really, really wish more attention was paid to my mention of the all-male mayoral review, but it barely garnered a peep. So it goes. I also love the placard story, that I got to use the word “Manchvegas” and I got a counter-punch from a normally quiet public figure in the column.

With Corriveau out, who will run against Gatsas?

ALDERMAN Garth Corriveau decided against a run for mayor. Now what?

“I know there are others that are talking about it and talking about it behind the scenes,” said Manchester City Democratic Chairman Mike Brunelle. “There are still qualified people out there who are thinking about stepping up to the plate and challenging (Mayor) Ted Gatsas.”

So the wait continues.

There’s been plenty of talk about where to find a formidable challenger to Gatsas. Some suggest recruiting an experienced Democrat who has stepped back from the spotlight lately; Manchester attorneys Bob Backus and Tom Donovan are such Democrats.

Others want a fresh face or someone low key. Even-keeled Ward 1 Alderman Joyce Craig has long been a favorite, but she’s indicated she will run again for alderman. Gray Chynoweth is young, hard-working and personable, but as vice president of business operations and general counsel for growing Dyn Inc., he’s got his hands full.

There are plenty of other names that fit these criteria, but with two months to go before the filing period, they’ve yet to step up.

Manchester has had 47 mayors. A portrait of each one hangs in the central stairwell of City Hall . Ascending toward the mayor’s office and aldermanic chambers, these portraits show the shift in fashions, facial hair and names of Manchester residents through the decades. Abbott and Kelley give way to Moreau and Vallee and Wieczorek. They show that as the city has changed, so has its leadership. With newer immigrant populations living in Manchester today, it’s likely future portraits will reflect their faces, as well.

What you won’t find along these walls, despite playing a vital role in the city since its inception, is a portrait of a woman. Three women gave it a shot in 2007, as did school committee member Donna Soucy, in 1999. None of them made it past the primary. With a wide-open slot just waiting to be filled, now is as good a time as any for a woman to step up and give Gatsas a good fight.

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BEFORE THE CITY can get to elections, there’s the nagging issue of the city budget. A potential deal with city unions is dead, so the aldermen are now working on an alternative to the mayor’s budget that can survive a veto. With so many items on the “wants” list, it’s been difficult to get 10 members to agree on how much to spend and what to spend it on. Expect at least one alternative budget presented on Tuesday and for these options to fail to breach Gatsas’ block.

Gatsas hasn’t guaranteed a veto, but on Wednesday said he won’t support a budget that inflates revenues or raises taxes.

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ONE OF THE FEW perks given to elected officials in Manchester (besides access to city health insurance) is free parking. The mayor, aldermen and school board members are issued parking placards with their name, position and ward, allowing them to park on city streets for free. The perk dates back to 1967, when the Committee on Traffic approved placards for the aldermen, and at some point was extended to members of the school board. But according to City Clerk Matt Normand, the placards are for use only while the holders are on official city business.

That’s why it’s curious that Ward 12 Alderman Patrick Arnold’s car was spotted twice last week parked along Hanover Street, across from his place of work at Bostock Law offices. Arnold’s car — with parking placard in full view on the dash — was parked on the street in the afternoon, not during one of his aldermen or committee meetings. This, however, doesn’t mean he was abusing the perk.

“The placards are intended for city business only, and that’s what I use it for,” said Arnold.

Arnold is an active alderman and can often be found in City Hall on his way to meeting with a department head or attending city meetings, even those of boards and committees on which he does not sit. It’s just an added perk that the city business Arnold is on happens to be so close to his office.

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PARKING MANAGER Brandy Stanley is trading in Manchvegas for Las Vegas. Tuesday was Stanley’s last day before heading off to become the first parking service manager for the City of Las Vegas.

“It’s going to be a big challenge but a lot of fun,” said Stanley.

She is being replaced by Denise Boutilier, who will serve as the interim parking manager until a permanent replacement is selected. Boutilier has 30 years in the city’s Traffic and Parking Divisions and, according to Stanley, “pretty much knows everything” about parking in Manchester.

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IN LAST SUNDAY’S COLUMN, former Alderman Peter Sullivan came out swinging against Welfare Commissioner Paul Martineau, accusing him of treating the city’s poor with scorn. Martineau, who is running for reelection, last week called the characterization “unfounded criticism.”

“I don’t treat social agencies or needy families with scorn,” he said. Martineau follows state guidelines when issuing assistance and has always worked with the local service agencies, he said. Sullivan’s comments were unfair, Martineau said.

“I returned $1.5 million to the city in my five terms here. What has Peter Sullivan done during his time as an alderman?” Martineau said.

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WITH MITT, SARAH, JOHN AND MICHELLE in the state — or allegedly heading for it — former Sen. Rick Santorum’s visit to Manchester last week got little attention.

On Tuesday, Santorum was the keynote speaker at the New Hampshire Young Republican’s fund-raiser at the upstairs lounge at Piccola Italia Ristorante. The event drew N.H. GOP Chairman Jack Kimball, state House Majority Leader DJ Bettencourt, and a full slate of Manchester Republicans, both young people and those older than 40.

Santorum spoke for about 30 minutes, focusing on the need for debt reduction and an overhaul of Social Security and Medicare. The friendly crowd gave him a warm reception, and in true New Hampshire primary fashion, Santorum answered about half a dozen of their questions. He closed by asking attendees for their support. Santorum plans to be in New Hampshire quite a bit in the next few months, and he said it wasn’t going to be for a vacation.

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