Aldermen voted last week to refer to committee a request from Mayor Joyce Craig to amend Manchester’s policy governing the use of flagpoles on city hall property, to allow flags to be flown recognizing commemorative themes like LGBT Pride Month and Women’s History Month.

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Policy on flagpole use

Last year, city aldermen amended the City Hall Care & Use Policy to create a policy on the use of flagpoles on City Hall property.

“While the policy allows for flags of governments recognized by the United States and flags of sister cities to be flown, it does not allow for the observance of commemorative months, such as African American History Month, Women’s History Month, or LGBT Pride Month that have been routinely recognized by the President of the United States,” Craig wrote in a memo to aldermen.

Craig asked board members amend the policy to read:

“Flagpoles on City Hall property are not a public forum. The American, State of New Hampshire, POW MIA and City of Manchester flags may be flown. With the approval of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, the following flags may be displayed by the City for no more than 1 week as an expression of official City government sentiment: Flags of governments recognized by the United States; flags of sister cities; flags displayed in observance of commemorative days, weeks, or months recognized by the President of the United States; flags displayed in conjunction with ceremonies or proclamations by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.”

“The board put forward a policy this year, and we found that when we were coordinating efforts to put up the pride flag there were some limitations to the policy, and it was inadvertent,” said Craig. “We worked to make some revisions to the policy.”

Aldermen agreed to send the requested policy change to committee for further review, while also voting to allow the pride flag to fly at city hall next week.

Observance list

Craig also asked board members to approve a list of national observances and commemorative months from the Library of Congress during which ceremonial flags may be flown at City Hall in observance of ceremonial days, weeks and months if requested by a resident, group or organization.

The list includes:

• African-American History Month (February)

• Asian Pacific Heritage Month (May)

• Constitution Day and Citizenship Day (Sept. 17)

• Human Rights Day (Dec. 10)

• Irish-American Heritage Month (March)

• Jewish-American Heritage Month (May)

• Law Day (May 1)

• Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month (June)

• National Disability Employment Awareness Month (October)

• National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15)

• Women’s History Month (March), which honors and celebrates the struggles and achievements of American women throughout the history of the United States.

Aldermen will also look at language allowing the annual displaying of flags of the following governments recognized by the U.S.:

Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Colombia, Congo, France, Germany, Greece, Haiti, Ireland, Lebanon, Puerto Rico, Scotland and Wales.

“It’s just a start,” said Craig. “It’s not limited to, but we just felt like we might as well get approval up front for these things so we don’t have to keep going back and forth. It doesn’t mean that anyone can’t come forward and make a request, but again just making sure that our policy is one of inclusivity and that we can take care of everything up front.”

Last year the city raised a pride flag outside City Hall for one week, after Craig received a request from Robb Curry and Kyle Davis, owners of Madear’s restaurant, asking her to consider the idea.

More than 100 people gathered at City Hall Plaza last June for a ceremonial flag raising, where Craig read a proclamation encouraging all citizens to recognize and celebrate the diversity of Manchester.

A similar pride flag raising event will be held this Friday, June 14, at 3 p.m. at City Hall Plaza. This year’s event marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots — six days of violence, riots and protest that followed a police raid of a Greenwich Village gay club, often referred to as the origin of the gay rights movement — and the 10th anniversary of legalized gay marriage in New Hampshire.

Ward 2 announcement

Ward 2 resident Gene Martin has announced a run for an at-large seat on the school board. Martin, raised in the Queen City and a Memorial High School grad, has served as vice president of the Manchester Lions Club, and is a past chairman of the Plymouth State Alumni Board of Directors. He is currently working on a master’s degree in public administration from the University of New Hampshire.

Martin, who lives in Ward 2 with his wife, Erin, and daughter, Catherine, said he wants to bring “a new generation of leadership” to the school board.

“I want to see Manchester thrive as a community where people want to live and work — and the foundation of that is making sure Manchester has strong schools to reach our City’s full potential. This has motivated me to want to do more,” said Martin. “After much consideration, I am excited to share that I am running to serve the residents of Manchester as our next school board at-large member.”

“My parents bought their home in Manchester, so their three sons could have the best possible chance of success. As new parents, my wife, Erin, and I want the exact same thing for our daughter. I loved the education I received in Manchester, and I’ll never forget the teachers that helped transform my life.”

Martin said he believes a “great school district will provide opportunities for Manchester’s children and helps attract and keep businesses and residents.”

“As our next school board member, I want to make sure every child has the opportunity to succeed. And to me, that means that we have to prepare our high school graduates for college, a trade or technical school, or be workforce ready right out of high school,” said Martin. “Sadly, over the past few years, it seems too many school board members prioritized bickering and dysfunction over focusing on student success and achievement.”

Craig has released the following list of upcoming Community Office Hours planned in June and July:

• Tuesday, June 18, noon to 1 p.m. YWCA (72 Concord St.)

• Tuesday, July 9, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Boys & Girls Club ( 555 Union St.)

• Wednesday, July 24, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Girls Inc. (340 Varney St.)

Dates will continue to be added throughout the summer and fall as well.

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