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November 21. 2012 9:10PM

Jerome Duval picked to lead Manchester Charter Commission

MANCHESTER - Members of the newly elected Charter Commission selected a chairman at its first meeting Wednesday, choosing Jerome Duval, a real estate business owner and former alderman, to take the helm of the panel.

The selection came after the nine-member commission twice deadlocked on choosing a leader. The three candidates, Duval, Mike Lopez and Rich Girard, each received three votes. In the third round of voting, Girard and Will Infantine switched their votes to Duval.

Girard was elected 5-4 to be vice-chairman, with Duval providing the swing vote.

The panel is divided 5-4 in favor of commissioners identified as Democrats.

Mike Lopez was the choice of state Democratic Sen. Lou D'Allesandro and John Clayton, the former New Hampshire Union Leader columnist, while Duval had the support of Elias "Skip" Ashooh, who considers himself a moderate, as well as Christine "Chris" Martin, the principal of Webster Elementary School.

The Republicans Nick Pappas and Will Infantine had backed Girard, before the latter two switched their votes to break the deadlock.

Martin was elected secretary.

Duval said he was honored to be chosen chairman.

"We get but one chance each decade to take a good hard look at city government," he said. "We need to put aside our party affiliations for this process. We need only consider what's good for Manchester - period."

In other business during the nearly two-hour meeting, the commission debated and then voted to adopt the same protocol governing meetings of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, discussed the panel's initial budget allocation of $25,000 and set a date for its next meeting.

That meeting, which is required under state law to give the public a chance to express its views to the commission, was scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. in the City Hall chambers.

Voters are asked every 10 years to form a charter commission, which will spend the coming months reviewing and proposing changes to the city charter, its basic governing framework.

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


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