Gatsas: Keep the momentum goingBy PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader
November 04. 2017 9:20PM
Election Day infoPolls open Tuesday, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
WARD 1: Webster School auditorium, 2519 Elm St. (handicapped accessible entrance/parking in rear of building)
WARD 2: Hillside Middle School, 112 Reservoir Ave.
WARD 3: Carol M. Rines Center, 1528 Elm St. (Use rear entrance, not the Elm Street entrance)
WARD 4: McDonough School, 550 Lowell St.
WARD 5: Beech Street School, 333 Beech St.
WARD 6: Henry J. Mclaughlin Middle School, 290 S. Mammoth Road
WARD 7: St. Anthony Community Center, 148 Belmont St.
WARD 8: Memorial High School, One Crusader Way
WARD 9: Bishop Leo E. O'Neil Youth Center, 30 S. Elm St.
WARD 10: Parker-Varney School, 223 James Pollock Drive
WARD 11: Gossler School, 145 Parkside Ave.
WARD 12: Northwest Elementary School, 300 Youville St.
Ted Gatsas has held one elective office or another in Manchester since 2000. After five terms as an alderman, serving as state senator for District 16 from 2000 to 2009, and now four terms as mayor, one might ask why he continues to run for office.
"I believe in this city," said Gatsas. "I love this city. We've got to keep the momentum we've got going."
Voters will decide whether Gatsas has earned a fifth term in office when they head to the polls this Tuesday to cast ballots in the municipal election. He is being challenged by Joyce Craig, whom he defeated by 64 votes following a recount in 2015.
Gatsas touts several accomplishments during his years in office, including establishing the state's first technology high school and building a municipal complex that includes a new highway department building and police headquarters. He has an answer for those who say after four terms it's time for a change at the top in City Hall.
"That's the easy thing to say," said Gatsas. "It's easy enough to blame the incumbent for the drug situation and the crime situation. It's easy to say we need change. I look and I say, 'What are you going to change? What are you bringing forth?'?"
"I say downtown Manchester is booming," said Gatsas. "Businesses are moving downtown. There are great things happening in this city, and we're going to continue moving it forward. There's no reason to change now."
Gatsas said one of those "great things" is a proposal unveiled last month to build a solar installation at the city landfill, part of a 25-year power purchase agreement forecast to generate $5.5 million in cost savings and payments to Manchester over the lifetime of the deal.
The 25-year agreement with BFHJ Clean Energy Professionals of Newark, N.J., includes up to $515,000 in "front-end" payments to the city. The proposed contract rates guarantee $133,000 per year in energy savings. Officials said the agreement includes two, five-year renewal options and would supply approximately 25 percent of the city's current power needs.
The second part of the proposal is for a 25-year land lease for a 3-plus megawatt solar array - about 9,000 solar panels - at the Manchester landfill on Dunbarton Road. The city would receive $67,000 a year in lease payments, totaling $1.675 million over the life of the agreement.
"This is all about opportunities for the taxpayers," said Gatsas during an interview atop the closed landfill last week. "Certainly we will be able to save somewhere around $5 million, and get $500,000 up front and have bonds to protect the taxpayers so that nothing is lost. I can tell you as you look at this project, you see that it makes a lot of sense. You can have two of the solar arrays up top here, and one on the side that is down off of I-93. I think you might even be able to squeeze another one in here if you work hard enough."
Gatsas said he has heard residents while campaigning who are concerned over taxes.
"I can tell you they are certainly concerned," said Gatsas. "They are coming up to me and talking about taxes, and they are going to be out there voting. I think it's going to be a much different outcome than it was two years ago."
Gatsas has taken heat from the Craig campaign about not going on ride-alongs with firefighters and police officers, to see what they see firsthand.
"During my tenure, when there's a three-alarm fire I've made sure to be there and tell the firefighters what a great job they are doing," said Gatsas. "That's when you really see them putting their best foot forward. When we had two police officers get shot, I was right there in the emergency room with them."
Gatsas is a lifelong resident of the Queen City, and a product of its public schools. A graduate of Smyth Road Elementary School and Manchester High School Central, he earned a bachelor's degree from the University of New Hampshire.
He grew up on a pig farm in south Manchester, the son of second-generation immigrants to the U.S. - his father's family came from Greece and his mother's from Lebanon.
Gatsas and his brother Michael started the employee-leasing firm Staffing Network in 1986, which grew to be one of the largest employers in New England. It has since been acquired by ADP Payroll.
Gatsas first took elective office in 2000 as Ward 2 alderman and served five terms from 2000 to 2010. He was elected to the New Hampshire State Senate and represented District 16 from 2000 to 2009, serving concurrently as alderman and state senator.
Gatsas was elected as Manchester's 47th mayor on Nov. 3, 2009. He was re-elected three times and is serving his fourth consecutive term.
Gatsas said the opioid epidemic continues to be one of the top issues raised by city residents.
"Some people will tell you we are doing a great job but this is no time for a victory lap," he said. "We need to continue to work to find places for these folks to stay once they come out of recovery, so they're not right back next door to their drug dealer."
Gatsas has released his 12-point plan for the city, available at tedgatsas.com.