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October 25. 2011 7:02PM

Wihby, at-large: A leader for school board

We were cheered, as were many long-time Manchester residents, when we learned that former Alderman Dave Wihby was running for an at-large seat on the city school board this year. Seldom does someone who spent 18 years in elected office earn the positive reputation — from both sides — that Wihby had.

An alderman for nearly two decades, Wihby developed serious knee problems and, after surgery, was unable to campaign much in 2003. He lost his seat by fewer than 100 votes. After the election, here is what former Democratic Alderman Bill Cashin said about Wihby, a Republican:

“The one thing about Dave, (when) he gave you his word you could take it to the bank, and honestly, you can't say that about some of them.”

Wihby was more than just a very sharp analyst of the city budget and a powerful advocate for the taxpayers; he was a guy who listened to everyone and tried hard to create policies that had broad support. He did that whether he was in the minority or the majority on the board.

“I saw the havoc that was put on this year, and I thought I could get on and help out and get everybody working together,” he said of his decision to run for school board this year. That's not just rhetoric. That's the way Dave Wihby operates, as even his political opponents would acknowledge. When he wrote city budgets as an alderman, the vote on them often would be unanimous.

Wihby would be exactly the kind of leader the school board needs right now. He is strong on policy, but he also knows how to build consensus, and that will be critical in the next few years as the board struggles to improve our public schools while keeping budgets in check.

Running this year to deal not just with budgets, but to improve public education by reviewing current practices and trying to find better ways to do things, Wihby is the right candidate at the right time. Voters can — and should — check his name with confidence.


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