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Paul Feely's City Hall: Manchester mayor-elect names chief of staff, policy and engagement directors

December 16. 2017 8:33PM
Joyce Craig celebrated with her family, friends and other supporters at the Puritan Backroom after winning Manchester's mayoral race Nov. 7, 2017. (Allegra Boverman/Union Leader file photo)

Mayor-elect Joyce Craig has hired three staff members ahead of taking the oath of office on Jan. 2.

Craig will announce Monday the hiring of Ryan Mahoney as her chief of staff; Lauren Smith as policy and strategic outreach director; and Donald Stokes as community engagement director.

A former chief of staff for the New Hampshire House of Representatives, Mahoney - a Manchester resident - will direct all operations in the mayor's office. Mahoney most recently served as the senior staff member to State Senate Minority Leader Sen. Jeff Woodburn and the State Senate Democratic Caucus. He also served as chairman of the Manchester City Democrats

Under her new title, Smith will help develop and implement Craig's policies. Prior to joining Craig's staff, Smith served as communications director for SEA/SEIU Local 1984, managing communications to over 12,000 public and private-sector workers across the state. Smith also has worked for public relations agencies in Portsmouth and Minneapolis, Minn. A Midwest native, she attended Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, earning a B.A. in both advertising and history.

Stokes, a recent St. Anselm College graduate, worked on Craig's 2017 campaign, along with the re-election campaign of Executive Councilor Chris Pappas. According to Craig, Stokes will "oversee interactions with residents to ensure the mayor's office is more open, responsive and accessible than ever."

"As we begin the hard work of building a stronger Manchester, I am thrilled to announce the hiring of my key staff members," said Craig in a statement. "Ryan, Lauren and Donald share my desire to make the mayor's office work in the best interest of all Manchester residents."

Craig will take the oath of office on Tuesday, Jan. 2, at the Radisson Hotel, 700 Elm St. The inaugural ceremony will begin at 10 a.m., and will include the swearing in of other city officials. John Clayton, executive director of the Manchester Historic Society, will serve as master of ceremonies. The event is free and open to the public.

Craig's inaugural committee is co-chaired by Elizabeth Hitchcock, Paul LeBlanc, Arthur Gatzoulis, and State Rep. Mary Heath. Liz Purdy will act as a senior adviser to committee members.

The Inaugural Ball will be held Saturday, Jan. 13 at the Radisson.

Tickets and additional information can be found at

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The Aldermanic Committee on Administration and Information Systems is scheduled to hear an update Tuesday on costs associated with a request to open the public restrooms at Veterans Park for daily use.

Last month perennial mayoral candidate and local gadfly Glenn Ouellette went before the committee, requesting the bathrooms be opened this month.

According to City Chief of Parks Don Pinard, the cost of putting a full-time attendant, for 40 hours per week, with supplies at the Veterans Park restrooms is estimated at $105,000 a year. Pinard also prices out an alternative plan involving staffing the bathrooms with a security guard - and cleaning and maintenance performed by Aramark Cleaning - for $45,000 a year.

Pinard estimates the cost of recommended renovations at the Veterans Park site - including updates to plumbing, anti-vandalism measures and installing a security camera - will come in at $52,000.

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Changes are coming to Bike Manchester.

Will Stewart, founder and longtime chair of the local nonprofit will be sworn in as the new alderman from Ward 2 on Jan. 2, and he will turn over the handles - er, reins - for Bike Manchester to Derek Shooster.

Bike Manchester issued a statement saying, "Will's leadership has taken Bike Manchester from a tiny upstart, to an ever-growing advocacy and social circle that has led to dozens of public events and activities, as well as several key infrastructure projects around the city's growing multimodal transportation network. Will's vision, dedication, and achievements have left an indelible mark on Bike Manchester and the city in general. He will continue his collaborative and productive leadership style in Manchester City government. We are sad to see him go, but happy for his growing opportunity to influence our community for the better."

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Speaking of bikes, the days of seeing them chained to trees and stop signs behind City Hall could be over.

Pamela Goucher, deputy planner for the city, reports Jonathan Golden from her department developed a design concept for a bike rack, drawing inspiration from the trusses of the old Notre Dame Bridge. The Highway Department had a small amount of money left over from a bike grant, which was used to construct the rack. It was recently installed behind City Hall.

Goucher reports the developer behind the recently-approved SNHU parking garage proposed for So. Commercial St. has agreed to install one or two bike racks of the same design at the garage, along with some benches and landscaping.

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They won't take the oath of office until Jan. 2, but Ward 8 Alderman-elect John Cataldo and School Committeeman-elect Jimmy Lehoux will host their first ward meeting this Wednesday, Dec. 20, at the Manchester School of Technology from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Cataldo and Lehoux say they want to take the opportunity to listen to anyone who would like to speak, while giving constituents a chance to get to know them better. They hope to make ward meetings a regular event.

Paul Feely is the City Hall reporter for the Union Leader and Sunday News. Reach him at

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