Chairman Duval: Charter commission's good pick
At the first meeting of Manchester's newly elected charter commission, there was a factional battle for the commission chairmanship. After many ballots, a compromise pick emerged: former Alderman Jerome Duval. That is an encouraging sign.
If the voters could have elected the chairman, Duval probably would have been the pick. A Democrat who had a fiscally conservative voting record when he was an alderman, Duval often was the swing vote on the board. He was the kind of elected official who listened to both sides and tried to find common ground. That seems to be what the voters wanted when they elected charter commission members three weeks ago.
The people elected two well-known Democrats (Lou D'Alessandro and Mike Lopez), two well-known Republicans (Will Infantine and Rich Girard), two well-known civic leaders not strongly affiliated with their parties (Duval and Republican Skip Ashooh), a newcomer whose family name is shared by prominent Republican and Democratic families (Nick Pappas), popular former Union Leader columnist John Clayton, and Webster Elementary School Principal Christine D. "Chris" Martin, who shares the name of the lead singer of mega-pop band Coldplay.
There is no indication in those votes of a partisan wave or a strong leaning in one direction or the other. The message commissioners ought to take is that voters want them to work together to improve the charter in ways that all sides find agreeable (and, possibly, to play Coldplay songs during meetings). For the task of bridging partisan divides and finding common ground, Duval is the right chairman.