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Manchester mayoral candidates release policy plans

By PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader

October 05. 2017 11:51PM
Manchester mayoral candidates Joyce Craig and Ted Gatsas. 

MANCHESTER — Both candidates for mayor of the state’s largest city released dueling policy plans Thursday, outlining initiatives each would implement if elected to the corner office at Manchester City Hall next month.

Mayoral candidate Joyce Craig released the first policy plan of her 2017 campaign, promising “transparency” if elected to the Queen City’s corner office, promising more sections of her plan will be released in the coming weeks. Incumbent Mayor Ted Gatsas released his full 12-point plan Thursday night.

Craig’s plan promises to make City Hall more “transparent and open,” saying she believes it “is the best way to serve the people.”

“I want to be fully transparent and accessible to the residents of Manchester,” said Craig in a statement. “Right now, Manchester has a campaign finance system that favors connected developers over regular people. I will fight to reform city campaign finance laws that allow unlimited individual and corporate contributions. I will also hold regular office hours outside of City Hall to make city government more approachable and responsive to the needs of residents.”

Craig’s campaign said details on additional pieces of her policy focusing on public safety, education, city management, and economic development will be released in the coming weeks.

According to her campaign, the overall policy was developed through conversations with Manchester residents.

“Currently, candidates for municipal office can raise unlimited funds from any source,” said Craig in a statement. “I want to end the era of Manchester politics where who you know and how much money you have determines your access to City Hall.”

If elected, Craig promises to:

• Propose citywide campaign finance reform to end unlimited contributions to candidates and stop the “pay-to-play culture” at City Hall.

• Encourage and recommend diverse and experienced candidates to appointments on city boards.

• Hold regular office hours at schools, businesses, retirement communities, and community centers across Manchester.

• Propose adding open dialogue to public comment at Board of Mayor and Alderman meetings once a month.

• Provide executive summaries and full contracts for public review in a central location on city’s website for public review prior to final approval.

Full details of Craig’s transparency plan can be found at www.facebook.com/joycecraigformanchester/

In a statement, Gatsas said his plan touts “the successes the city has realized today and outlines where there are opportunities for tomorrow.”

“My plan focuses on taxes, roads, education, public safety, the opioid epidemic, economic development, and accountability for elected officials,” said Gatsas in a statement. “I am proud of the progress that we have made together and I look forward to continuing to work for a better Manchester in the future.”

In his plan, Gatsas promises to veto any budget that breaks the city tax cap, and highlights efforts in the city to combat opioid abuse. Gatsas also promises changes to the city’s Charter to “address inconsistencies” in the conflict of interest policy, and vows to “end the practice of taxpayer-funded health insurance for part-time elected officials.

“As your Mayor I will set up an independent commission to review the standards of conduct and rules of ethics, for elected officials in the city of Manchester and charge them with bringing a policy forward through a charter change to the voters of Manchester. No more will Aldermen be able to protect their own and ignore their backroom dealings,” said Gatsas in a statement. “Aldermen should be held accountable when they vote on contracts that involve their immediate family members and should not be able to sweep their charter violations under the rug. Resources are limited in the city and we must use what we have available better. It’s time for taxpayer funded health benefits for part-time elected city officials to end. There is no reason someone should receive lucrative benefits for showing up to work twice a month. People should run for these offices to serve their community, not to receive city benefits.”

Gatsas’ full 12-point plan can be found online at https://www.tedgatsas.com/plan.

Craig and incumbent Mayor Ted Gatsas, who went head to head in 2015, finished 1-2, respectively, in a primary election last month.

According to official results from City Clerk Matt Normand, Craig finished first with 5,812 votes, and Gatsas placed second with 4,997.

Gatsas is seeking his fifth term, while Craig is looking to become the first woman elected mayor in the Queen City.

In 2015, Gatsas won the mayoral race by 64 votes following a recount.

On Thursday, Gatsas campaign manager Ross Berry chided the Craig camp for not releasing her full plan for voters to review.

“With just over 30 days until the election it is stunning that Joyce Craig does not have a complete plan for being mayor of the state’s largest city,” said Berry. “Today Mayor Gatsas released a complete 12 point plan for his vision for Manchester. Unsurprisingly, Craig’s incomplete plan makes no mention of the number one issue facing voters this November which is taxes probably because she wants to run away from her liberal tax and spend record.”

pfeely@unionleader.com


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