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Paul Feely's City Hall: With election looming, a look at Manchester voters by the numbers

November 04. 2017 11:06PM
Ted Gatsas and Joyce Craig 

The voter checklist has closed, and City Clerk Matt Normand says there are 55,900 registered voters heading into Tuesday's municipal election.

While it is officially a nonpartisan election, many candidates receive support from and are active in their respective political parties. As of Nov. 1, there were 18,285 registered Democrats in Manchester, 15,551 registered Republicans and 22,045 undeclared voters, - the true wild card in Tuesday's mayoral race. There are also 19 registered as Libertarians.

According to Normand, his office mailed out 2,105 absentee ballots and received 1,529 back as of 5 p.m. Wednesday. Those numbers are similar to absentee ballot returns in the 2015 general election, when 2,072 absentee ballots were requested and 1,765 sent back in - an 85 percent rate of return.

Official results from 2015 show a total of 20,198 votes were cast, a 36.7 percent turnout - the most votes cast in a municipal election in the Queen City in 14 years, according to Normand.

Incumbent Mayor Ted Gatsas took Wards 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12, but it was his tallies from Ward 6 and 8 that carried him to victory. These are also the only two wards where registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats in 2017.

Two years ago, Gatsas won Ward 6 with 1,201 votes to challenger Joyce Craig's 1,072. In Ward 8, the incumbent received 1,210 votes to 967 for Craig.

In 2017, there are 1,831 registered Republicans in Ward 6 vs. 1,617 Democrats. In Ward 8, there are 1,856 Republicans and 1,567 Democrats.

What does it all mean? We'll know sometime Tuesday night. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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In 2015, Gatsas defeated Craig by 64 votes following a recount. Normand said this year the deadline to request any recounts of the votes cast in the municipal election has been extended one business day to Monday, Nov. 13 at 5 p.m., due to the observance of Veterans Day on Nov. 10.

City Hall and public schools in Manchester will be closed Tuesday due to the election. The city clerk's office will be open for election-related business only.

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School board member Katie Desrochers of Ward 11 has received legal opinions on her request to determine whether or not At-Large school board member Rich Girard was "guilty of a class B felony" or misdemeanor for recording members without their consent while filling in as clerk. Desrochers also asked for an opinion on whether Girard violated the Right-to-Know law for recording a nonpublic meeting on Sept. 11.

The legal advice on both counts? No, and no.

After receiving a copy of the legal opinion, Girard requested the release of the information that vindicated him. Gatsas ordered a phone poll of the board be taken asking that the information be released. The result was 8-7 in favor of releasing the information.

Eight board members voted in favor of releasing the information: Gatsas, Girard, Debra Gagnon Langton, Mary Georges, Lisa Freeman, Ross Terrio, Art Beaudry and John Avard. Opposed were Desrochers, Sarah Ambrogi, Leslie Want, Dan Bergeron, Erika Connors, Connie Van Houten and At-Large member Nancy Tessier.

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According to the superintendent of schools, Dr. Bolgen Vargas, the district received notification on Halloween that a proposal submitted by city schools was one of eight from across the country to be chosen to receive a Hewlett-Packard Deeper Learning Grant.

According to a presentation by new Assistant Superintendent Amy Allen, the grant centers around bringing professional development and project-based learning to New Hampshire. This proposal would bring professional development to district teachers during the scheduled professional development days. The grant would provide the Manchester teachers stipends to participate in any work outside their contract.

"One of the things that we talked about with the Buck Institute and Hewlett-Packard is about project-based learning," said Allen in her presentation. "It has been a great initiative I know at Parker Varney, but we would like to see the impact on what it has to literacy and numeracy instruction. This would just be a professional development initiative that could be brought to the entire city of Manchester pre-k to 12. If successful they would look to expand throughout New Hampshire and the state of Hawaii. Hewlett-Packard had chosen Hawaii, New Hampshire and California as their three priority states for education because they are leading the nation in innovation in terms of instruction and assessment."

The exact dollar amount of the grant has not been announced.

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City aldermen have confirmed the nomination of Mirfeta Ibisevic to succeed Eva Castillo-Turgeon as a member of the Police Commission. Longtime commissioner Castillo completed her term of service in September.

Ibisevic, 27, is a 2009 Central High School graduate. The Police Commission is a public board that meets monthly to review police policies and standards.

According to her resume, Ibisevic works in quality assurance for a manufacturing company in Bedford. She graduated from Northeastern University in Boston in 2014 with a degree in biology.

Ibisevic immigrated to New Hampshire when she was 10. Ibisevic's term on the commission will expire Sept. 15, 2020.

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

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