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November 09. 2012 12:11AM

Newest alderman's 1st meeting may have set brevity record

MANCHESTER - The newly elected representative for Ward 11 made his debut at Thursday's Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, which lasted all of 15 minutes.

Asked after the meeting how it felt to join the board, Alderman Normand Gamache said, "I haven't really found out yet."

Gamache won the special election Tuesday to represent the West Side ward, beating Emily Sandblade by a vote of 1,392-1,182.

Gamache, a retired district chief who is part of a fourth-generation family of firefighters, was endorsed by the city Democratic committee. Sandblade was backed by the Republicans.

Ward 11 has been without an alderman since late July, when Russell Ouellette resigned following allegations he made unwanted sexual advances on a woman. Ouellette later pleaded guilty to three simple assault charges stemming from the encounter.

The meeting was the aldermen's first since Oct. 16. It was cancelled last week due to Hurricane Sandy and postponed until after the election, and the agenda was light. The aldermen approved a consent agenda without discussion that consisted largely of routine appointments and departmental reports.

After the meeting, Mayor Ted Gatsas said he believed the meeting may have set a record for its brevity.

Gamache said his priorities on the board would be public safety and the schools.

"It's a big problem, as far as overcrowding and the school budget. We have to look at everything. Concessions are going to have to be made if we are to fully fund the school department. I don't see where we can really settle the thing at this point," he said.

"I'm new at this, so it's going to take me a while. I'm just getting my feet wet," he added.

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Ted Siefer may be reached at tsiefer@unionleader.com.


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