ALDERMAN Keith Hirschmann is expected to nominate former state Rep. Carlos Gonzalez to fill the vacant Ward 12 school board seat.

Kelly Thomas resigned her seat on the school board effective June 28, citing health issues and a newborn baby.

Gonzalez recently sent an email to Hirschmann expressing interest in the seat “not as a change of career, but because of my diverse expertise and my experience within the educational field.”

Gonzalez has taught physical science and Spanish at Moultonborough Academy and Sunapee High School. He also has been an adjunct faculty professor at both Franklin Pierce University and community colleges in Manchester and Nashua.

According to his resume, Gonzalez worked as a vice-president of public relations and public affairs for a bilingual newspaper in Massachusetts and as a community relations specialist for Members First Credit Union in Manchester

He listed sales, management, customer service and recruitment among his skill sets.

Hirschmann said he has known Gonzalez for years, having served with him in the state Legislature.

“He has been a loyal Ward 12 citizen for decades, and volunteers to do ballot inspecting at the polls during elections,” Hirschmann said. “Carlos, having been born in the Dominican Republic and making the USA his home, brings knowledge and importantly bilingual communication to the school district to move them into the 21st century, as well as a thoughtful issue-based mentality when voting on key issues.”

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen will consider the nomination Tuesday.

Also in the mix could be Ward 12 resident Ken Roy. Two weeks ago, Ward 1 Alderman Kevin Cavanaugh nominated Roy to fill the vacancy based on his resume.

The board demurred, citing a generally accepted practice of having the alderman from the ward in question nominate a replacement.

Hirschmann was absent from that meeting and unable to take part in the discussion. Jim Roy also was absent.

The motion failed, 9-2, with Cavanaugh and Pat Long voting in favor.

Ballot charter question

Aldermen voted to add a question on establishing a City Charter Commission to the September municipal primary election ballot.

Section 8.03 of the City Charter requires the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to put the question of a charter review before Queen City voters at least once every 10 years.

Earlier this year, City Clerk Matt Normand presented a proposal to board members to speed up the process, while saving taxpayers money.

The last regular charter commission convened in 2012, meaning a charter revision question must be presented to voters no later than September 2022.

Normand told aldermen in February that since the city’s last commission was formed, at least four state laws have been amended to prohibit holding a special municipal election on the same day as the state biennial election.

That means if aldermen were to wait until next year to start the process, the city would be required to hold a special standalone citywide election to send the question of charter revision to the voters and — if it passed — to elect members to the commission on a day other than a regular election day.

Each of these elections costs about $60,000, in addition to scheduled citywide state elections.

In total, the city would see election expenses in Fiscal Year 2023 exceed $200,000. At the same time, voter turnout likely would be significantly lower for the special elections.

Instead, Normand recommended the board start the city charter review process this fall to align with the regularly scheduled municipal election cycle.

The timeline extends the entire process by a year but gives the city a chance to save money over the next two budget cycles, align the charter review process with regularly scheduled municipal elections to take advantage of peak voter turnout, and create a window on the back end of this process — after the commission has concluded its work — to educate voters on any proposed charter amendments.

Nothing in Normand’s proposal precludes aldermen from ordering charter amendments to the November ballot based on recommendations presented by the School District Charter Commission last year.

Board members on Feb. 16 unanimously approved Normand’s timeline for a 2021 City Charter Commission.

As laid out in the proposal, board members voted this month to order the question “Shall the City establish a charter commission?” to the September ballot as the second step in the process.

Former alderman honored

Aldermen voted last week to name a recently completed section of the Rockingham Rail Trail in honor of former Ward 6 Alderman Real Pinard.

The section of trail runs from Mammoth Road to Page Street.

Pinard, who represented Ward 6 from 1998 to 2004 and again from 2006 to 2010, lives next to the trail and was a “continual advocate” for this section, according to Public Works Director Kevin Sheppard.

Sheppard made the recommendation to honor Pinard for his “tireless work as an alderman and his efforts to bring this project to completion.”

Board members approved the request last week.

Paul Feely is the City Hall reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. Reach him at

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