Senator's daughter among Portsmouth council candidates seeking nine open seats
PORTSMOUTH - City council candidate Stefany Shaheen, daughter of U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., joined several of her peers outside the Ward 5 polling place at Little Harbour Elementary School Tuesday morning to greet voters at the polls.
Shaheen is one of 23 candidates running for nine seats in the hotly contested city council rate. She may be a newcomer to the political scene locally, but the name recognition helped her in fundraising and may help her gain a city council seat, and possibly the mayoral title, by the end of the day.
Seven incumbents — Mayor Eric Spear, assistant Mayor Bob Lister, Esther Kennedy, Brad Lown, Christine Dwyer, Jack Thorsen and Kenneth Smith are running against 16 newcomers.
The newcomers are, in addition to Shaheen, Jim Splaine, Rick Becksted, Arthur Clough, Devin Murphy, Mark Brighton, Zelita Morgan, Justin Bethel, Steven Taylor, Dustin Maccallum, Joe Caldarola, Gibson "Mike" Kennedy, Josh Denton, Tristan Law, Shelley Saunders and J. Robert Shouse.
Seven candidates are running for five open seats on the school board.
Candidates Gibson "Mike" Kennedy, Chris Dwyer and Bob Shouse also held signs outside of the elementary school while other candidates and supporters fanned out among the city's other four wards.
Kennedy said the core issues voters are weighing in on are parking and the look and feel of new development in the city.
"Issues that caused people like myself to get involved and caused the city to get kind of divided," Kennedy said. "I think it's unfortunate and it's caused a lot of people to come out and vote."
Turnout was heavy for a municipal election early in the day, Ward 5 moderator Brian Wazlaw said, but by about 10 a.m. the stream of voters had tapered off.
The polls will remain open today until 7 p.m. Voters may register at the polls.
Ward 2 voting has moved back from the North Church Parish to the new Connie Bean Center at the Portsmouth Middle School, and Ward 4 voting has returned to Dondero Elementary School. Ward 1 voting is being held at New Franklin Elementary School, Ward 3 at the Robert J. Lister Academy, and Ward 5 at Little Harbour Elementary School.