It’s a race

Someone today mentioned to me that the 2011 city elections were going to be the most boring in history. Despite this, I remain optimistic.

July 17 City Hall Column

LAST WEEK was the kickoff of the city election season, giving little time for the bumps and bruises suffered during this year’s budget battle to heal before entering the next fight.

And with an even tougher budget season looming, voters can bet there will be little else discussed during the city campaign season besides spending and taxes.

It’s the first thing Zoning Board Chairman Brian Desfosses mentioned when asked why he had entered the Ward 6 alderman race.

“I’m sort of a conservative, and in the coming few years, the budget is going to get much tighter than it is now,” said Desfosses. “I’m someone out there who’s working, has little kids, who’s very busy, but still trying to take time to make sure my interests are represented on the board … I don’t see a whole lot of that on the board right now.”

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THE BUDGET IS A TOPIC that for now will only tangentially affect the race for mayor.

When Board of School Committee member Chris Herbert filed on Thursday afternoon, he focused on the bigger picture, saying he wants to end the divisive environment he thinks has taken over City Hall.

“There’s been too much bickering and bullying. I want people to stick together,” Herbert said. “I’m going to always listen and collaborate, and I think we’ve lost that.”

Herbert also wants to be known as the “education mayor.”

“It’s the Number 1 thing that attracts employers,” Herbert said. “I know how to make this school district excellent, and it’s not going to take that much money.”

Mayor Ted Gatsas has argued he’s an advocate for Manchester schools as well. As an example, he cited efforts to transform Manchester School of Technology into a full-time technical school.

“In the next two years, I want to make sure we have redistricting in place for all schools, making sure we have a school of technology full time, that we make sure the municipal complex is completed on time and under budget and we find a way to get the unions to the table to get some concessions,” said Gatsas. “If (other candidates) think of a way to create a budget differently than we have in the past, I will give them the opportunity if they’re elected. If they plan on spending more money, then they should tell the taxpayers of the city.”
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AS OF THURSDAY, all of the sitting aldermen had filed for reelection except Bill Shea of Ward 7, Phil Greazzo of Ward 10 and Dan O’Neil, alderman at-large. Ward 8 Alderman Betsi DeVries confirmed last week she will not run for another term. She said it was “a very emotional decision” and cited a desire to take some time off to spend with her husband, who has been fighting cancer.

DeVries said she has not ruled out running for her former state Senate seat.

The Board of School Committee didn’t have as many incumbents sign up for a chance at another term. Besides Herbert taking a shot at mayor, Ward 2 Committeeman Joe Briggs and Ward 8 Committeeman Tom Katsiantonis have jumped ship to swim for an alderman seat. Committee members who have yet to file include Mike DeBlasi of Ward 3, David Gelinas of Ward 7, Steve Dolman of Ward 11 and at-large members Debra Gagnon Langton and Kathleen Kelley.

Kate Vaughn of Ward 5 said Thursday afternoon she won’t be running for reelection. She is looking to move to a new home in Manchester.

To follow who’s filing for office at the City’s Clerk’s Office each day, go to manchesternh.gov.

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SOME OTHER FAMILIAR names that showed up on the filing list last week include state Rep. Ted Rokas, who is running for the Ward 5 school committee seat; and state Rep. Ross Terrio, who is running for a school committee at-large seat. State Rep. Will Infantine and former Ward 3 Alderman Joe Kelly Levasseur have also signed up for the alderman at-large race, but a Republican close to both candidates said the two are considering running for another city race in light of the crowded at-large field.
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THERE WERE SOME new names on the city’s list of candidates last week. As of Thursday, Hannaford supermarket manager Joshua Harwood had filed for a school committee at-large seat, and Melody Pines Day Camp director Erika Connors had filed for the Ward 8 school committee seat.
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CITY DEMOCRATS WILL be heading into the fall election season with a new leader. Party Chairman Mike Brunelle is stepping down sometime in August to head the Pennsylvania Service Employees International Union. City Democrats will gather that month to elect a new chairman.
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Gatsas raised more than $99,000 toward his reelection campaign in the second quarter. A review of his campaign financial disclosure sheet last week showed that 39 donors gave $1,000 or more, including state Sen. John Gallus, former congressional candidate Sean Mahoney and Concord attorney and registered lobbyist James Bianco. Top donors also included businesses, such as JDW Realty Corp., lobbyist collective The Dupont Group and AutoFair Group, which gave Gatsas $10,000.

Where is this money going? Gatsas paid out nearly $27,000 in the quarter ending in June, including $5,000 to American Research Group for a survey of residents, which revealed the mayor’s sky-high approval ratings. Wedu marketing company received about $10,000 for advertising, and the campaign paid $1,025 for postage.

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