The chairman of the city’s Republican Committee has filed a complaint against Ward 10 Alderman Bill Barry, requesting an investigation by the city’s conduct board into a photo posted on social media showing Barry posing with a group of Manchester High School West football players, wearing West team jerseys and holding “Barry for Alderman” campaign signs.
The matter appears on the agenda for this week’s meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, which gets underway at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.
In her complaint, Ward 10 resident Tammy Simmons claims the photo appeared on social media on Oct.19, with West High football coach Tom Bozoian commenting on Facebook, “Thank you to all of the coaches and players for taking time to support me and canvass Ward 10 today. We were able to visit over 1000 homes!!! The greatest kids in the city. I am very blessed to be a part of this team.”
Section 9.01 of the City Charter states, “Honest government, ethical conduct, the avoidance of conflicts of interest and public perception of ethical and honest conduct of public affairs are essential. This code is adopted to further these purposes.”
Barry volunteers as an assistant coach for the West football team.
“Our City Charter clearly speaks to matters of public perception — having jerseyed students delivering campaign materials and posing for photos to be shared across social media is unacceptable behavior for either a coach, assistant coach, or an elected alderman,” writes Simmons in her complaint, dated Oct. 21.
“It is disheartening to have elected officials and others question my motives with these kids,” responded Barry. “This is a desperate attempt by my opponent’s supporters to tarnish my reputation because they can’t challenge my accomplishments in Ward 10.”
Barry’s bid for reelection is opposed by Ray Hebert, who said he was disappointed with Barry’s comments.
“It’s a shame that Bill Barry has stooped to these kinds of tricks,” said Hebert. “That’s not the type of campaign I’ve run or the type of alderman I would be. The voters will decide and his peers will be the ones to review what’s been going on. I’ll continue to focus on talking about the issues with the people of the Ward 10 and will continue to introduce solutions to solving the problems of our city.”
The Manchester School District policy — Community 102 Public Information Dissemination — states: “Under no circumstances shall students be used for the purpose of distributing any materials that could be considered political or of special interest, including school budget information. No school official, political group, parent’s group or student shall be allowed to distribute to students or have posted in the schools any information that could be considered political or of special interest.”
The policy also goes on to state, “No information that could be considered political or of special interest may be distributed on the school premises at any time.”
“The photo of Alderman Barry and his campaign signs with the students was taken on school grounds,” writes Simmons. “Bringing political signs onto school property to take your picture with football players violates school policy. Having the same students hand out political literature also violates school policy. Coach Barry is in a position of power and trust over these students. As such, it is not only against school policy, but also completely inappropriate for him to solicit students in this manner as they may feel they have no way of declining their coach’s directive.”
Late last week, Barry said he has volunteered his time as a coach in the community for over 35 years.
“As a coach, I have always made it a point to make sure that each and every one of the players know that we are much more than coaches,” said Barry. “We are also an outlet for support. We mentor them and it has always been important to me that they understand that I am there if they need to talk. Every practice and every game I reach out to each and every one of them and ask how their day was, how their doing in school, how their attendance is, how are things at home and more. I have pushed them to reach out to their teachers and ask for extra help, ask the teachers what they need to do to improve their grades and to make sure that they attend classes and make a good effort to succeed.”
Barry said while working with the West players, some asked him if he “was the guy on the sign running for alderman?” and saying things like “we’ve got your back coach, let us know if we can help.”
Barry said he explained to them what an alderman is and does for the city, and also explained the election process and campaigning. He said the West players in the photo volunteered to help him on Saturday, Oct. 19.
“We met at the field where they practice because it was a familiar place for them,” said Barry. “It is also open to the public. It was also after school hours. We spent about an hour and a half walking Ward 10. I appreciate their volunteer efforts and I would encourage all kids to get involved with this process.”
Endorsements roll in
More endorsements for candidates continue to roll in ahead of the city’s municipal election on Nov. 5.
The Concerned Taxpayers of Manchester (CTM) has announced its list of candidate endorsements for local aldermanic, school board, and at-large races.
Candidates were asked to submit answers to a survey CTM sent out. CTM is a nonprofit organization “devoted to taxpayer issues impacting city taxpayers,” according to a release, including support of Manchester’s voter-approved tax cap.
For alderman, CTM endorses Jim Roy in Ward 4, incumbent Elizabeth Moreau in Ward 6, Ross Terrio for Ward 7, Mike Porter in Ward 8, Ray Hebert in Ward 10, Russ Ouellette in Ward 11, and incumbent Keith Hirschmann for Ward 12.
On the school board side, CTM endorses Kathleen Kelly Arnold for Ward 2, Mark Flanders in Ward 4, and Lisa Freeman in Ward 5.
Jon DiPietro gets the nod from CTM in Ward 6, incumbent Jimmy Lehoux in Ward 8, incumbent John Avard for Ward 10, Brittany Leclear-Ping in Ward 11, and Kelly Thomas in Ward 12.
For at-large seats, on the aldermanic side CTM recommends incumbent Joe Kelly Levasseur and Will Infantine. For school board at-large, CTM endorsed one candidate — Joe Lachance.
CTM endorses Victoria Sullivan for mayor, saying the former Republican state representative has pledged to protect and support the tax cap” and not just “submit the mandated tax cap budget and then work behind the scenes to undermine and override it.”
The New Hampshire Stonewall Democrats also released a full slate of endorsements last week for candidates that have “demonstrated their advocacy and visibility for LGBTQ residents.
For alderman, the group endorses Hassan Essa in Ward 12 and Katie Desrochers for an at-large seat.
For school board, the Stonewall Democrats recommend Chris Potter in Ward 7, Candace Moulton in Ward 9, Nicole Leapley in Ward 11, and Lara Quiroga for an at-large seat.
For mayor, the group endorses incumbent Joyce Craig.
“Mayor Craig believes that the diversity of our community makes us stronger, and that it is important that we celebrate the many communities that make up the Queen City,” said New Hampshire Stonewall Democrats Chairman Ryan Richman.
Mayoral debate Monday
A quick reminder, this reporter will team up with Peter Biello, host of New Hampshire Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” to host a mayoral debate between Craig and Sullivan on Monday, Oct. 28. The debate will air live on NHPR from 2 to 3 p.m., streamed via Facebook Live and rebroadcast on NHPR Monday night at 8 p.m.
Topics for discussion with the two candidates may include education, the economy, crime and public safety, and substance abuse.