Another View - Joyce Craig: New leadership must begin in the mayor's office
Manchester is a special place with a rich history, hard-working people and boundless potential. But for too long, we’ve lacked leadership in City Hall to address the many challenges facing Manchester, including drugs and crime, the quality of our schools, our roads and infrastructure, and the need for a long-term plan to promote economic development and job creation.
I’m running for mayor because I love Manchester, and I know that we can and must do better to make our city a place where people want to live, work and raise their children. It’s time we put petty politics aside, roll up our sleeves, and get down to the business and hard work of improving our city.
Born and raised in Manchester, I am a former school board member and alderman, property owner and parent of children attending our public schools, and I’ve seen firsthand the challenges our citizens face every day. As a businesswoman, I understand the professionalism, effective leadership and cooperation that’s needed to manage an organization. As a marathon runner, I know it takes perseverance and discipline to get the job done.
After eight years under Ted Gatsas, our city is adrift, and our progress as a city has stalled. On virtually every major issue, Ted Gatsas is either missing in action, or leading us in the wrong direction.
That’s why Manchester needs new leadership; for our taxpayers, who see their property taxes go up each year, with nothing to show for it in return; for our businesses, who are looking for an effective and professional partner in City Hall; for the parents of children who are tired of seeing our schools mismanaged and too many of our students not reaching their full potential; and for all of Manchester’s citizens who are fearful about the scourge of crime and drugs that’s plaguing our city.
With help from the state, we’ve made some progress on the opioid epidemic, but crime, particularly violent crime, remains a growing threat. Ted Gatsas has continuously proposed decreasing the number of police officers in our city while still raising taxes. His 2015 budget reduced the number of city police officers, and he vetoed grants that put more officers on the streets. His most recent budget proposal will raise your taxes once again, while likely reducing the number of officers in your neighborhood. Manchester deserves better.
Improving our schools must be a top priority for Manchester. High quality schools are one of the most important factors for people choosing where to live and work, and a skilled workforce is a critical ingredient for economic success in the 21st century. Because of Ted Gatsas’s my-way-or-the-highway approach, the towns of Hooksett, Auburn and Candia have pulled their students from our schools, costing the city more than $15 million in revenue that we, Manchester taxpayers, have had to make up. Our students continue to lose ground when compared to their statewide peers. Again, Manchester deserves better.
Ted Gatsas has lost touch with the concerns and needs of Manchester taxpayers. Two years ago, instead of investing in police or schools, he used taxpayer dollars to remodel his office suite at City Hall. Last month, he presented a budget that gives raises to his personal staff while slashing funds for the Department of Senior Services.
Ted Gatsas’ priorities are the wrong priorities for Manchester. For eight years, we’ve seen our city stumble from crisis to crisis. We need a new mayor with vision and energy. We need to reposition Manchester for a new era of economic vibrancy. We need a mayor who recognizes that our school system must attract — not repel — young families to our city. We need a mayor who is committed to safe and walkable streets and safe neighborhoods.
It’s time we have a mayor who puts our priorities first. As an alderman, I led bipartisan efforts to lower the tax rate while putting more police officers on the streets, improving our roads and investing in our schools. As mayor, I will make smarter decisions with your hard earned money and work to bring pride and optimism back to the city of Manchester.
I see great promise ahead for our city, but to get there we need new leadership, and that change must begin in the mayor’s office.
Joyce Craig is a Democratic candidate for mayor of Manchester.