WARD 1 Alderman
KEVIN CAVANAUGH (Incumbent), 54, wife Kerri and kids Jack, Ryleigh and Myles.
Top Issue: Homeless issue. In the past few months Manchester has been taking on the burden of homelessness for the entire state. The mayor and her staff along with city department heads and staff from DHHS have come together to address this problem together. It is a very complex issue and is something we need to continue to pay close attention to.
Tax Cap: The tax cap is one piece of the entire City Charter. If elected officials see a need to override that piece of the Charter then they should be able to go to city residents to explain why. I think our schools and public safety are very important issues and with that in mind is how I look at any budget. Situations are always changing and elected officials need to have the means to react to those changes.
Greatest Strength: I think Manchester’s greatest strength is its diversity as well as the dedicated employees we have. From educators, firefighters, police, DPW workers, Water Works, parks and rec and all the departments at City Hall, any time an issue needs to be handled I am always so impressed at the professionalism and dedication that all our employees have towards helping Manchester’s residents.
JEFF NYHAN: Could not be reached.
AMBER JODOIN: Could not be reached.
JAMES PORTER, 45, family Melissa and Alice, dogs Molly and Clementine.
Funding: I would take 10 percent and give every teacher a one-time bonus since they missed their salary steps this year and have missed four steps in the last 10 years due to stalled contract negotiations. Eighty percent I would use to address the crisis of a lack of supplies, books and technology in the classrooms. I would empower Superintendent Goldhardt to ask the principals/teachers of each school what they need to make our kids successful and let the professionals pick what the most pressing needs are. Lastly, I’d put 10 percent towards the expendable trust which is almost depleted.
Biggest Challenge: The perception that you shouldn’t raise your family here in Manchester because of the school system. There are great success stories every year from our schools and many get a great education. We need to highlight those while recognizing what needs improvement. It is no secret that we are 20 percent below the state average in spending per pupil and 88th out of 160 districts in starting pay for teachers. To attract and keep young families in Manchester we must end this contract dispute and make greater investments in our schools and teachers.
Greatest Strength/Needs To Change: The teachers, principals and administrators who dedicate their lives to our kids achievement are incredible. I also love the diversity of the student body. We should hire a full-time grant writer specifically for the school district. Last year we borrowed the city’s grant writer for a few months and brought in $10.5 million for technology upgrades, and West HS completed the redesign using grant funding ($800,000). There are over $12 billion in public and private grants available. We could strategically target areas of need and have more revenue flowing into the city at no cost to the taxpayer.
WARD 2 ALDERMAN
WILL STEWART (Incumbent).
Top Issue: In talking to voters in Ward 2, I hear far too many people talk about potentially leaving the city for surrounding communities, citing better schools and lower crime. If we want Manchester to be a city that people move to, and not from, we must improve our schools and those public safety and quality of life issues that negatively impact the perception of the city.
Tax Cap: The budget vote is the most important vote the aldermen take each year. I will never support a budget proposal that threatens public safety or essential city services. I am not an ideologue and will consider the cost-benefit of budget proposals when presented.
Greatest Strength/Needs To Change: Manchester’s greatest strength is our resilience. We have successfully responded to many challenges in our history and will continue to do so now and in the future. What needs to change is the perception that Manchester’s best days are behind us because they most certainly are not.
TYLER CHASE: Could not be reached.
KATHLEEN KELLEY ARNOLD (Incumbent), 48, husband Patrick; children Kevin and Abby.
Funding: Additional funding received from the State is one-time money. It shouldn’t be used for operational expenses or other costs that city taxpayers will have to pick up when the money runs out. I’d like to see the funding go towards building upgrades to improve safety, technology infrastructure improvements, and other capital projects in neighborhood schools.
Biggest Challenge: There are many challenges facing Manchester schools. One major challenge is our ability to attract families to our community and school district. I was born and raised in Manchester. I graduated from Catholic and public schools of Manchester. Not everyone had those great experiences, and it’s difficult to convince some parents to stay or relocate here amid negative perceptions of community challenges.
Greatest Strength/Needs To Change: I previously served as an at-large member of the school board. Our city has always enjoyed an abundance of people willing to roll up their sleeves to tackle challenges. I have and will continue working with anyone looking to improve educational opportunities for Manchester students and families. We see many great ideas turn into great district programs and offerings. However, the district sometimes falls short assessing program effectiveness. We need to measure better what works and what doesn’t. Forget political expediency; let’s focus on equipping our children with tools to be successful.
SEAN PARR, 42, wife Karen, children Thomas and Emily.
Funding: I think it’s important to listen to the priorities of our school administrators and teachers, so I would start there. I’ve already visited schools that serve Ward 2 students and met with principals, who have shared some of their hopes, such as improving staffing — special education staff and paraprofessionals especially — and also facilities concerns, including a flooding problem at Central that remains unresolved. After these urgent issues are resolved, I would then turn to working with the Board, the Superintendent, teachers, staff, and parents in considering how the funding could be used towards a vision for our schools’ future.
Biggest Challenge: Manchester spends less per student than anywhere else in the state. That reality hurts our students and negatively affects the reputation of our schools. I want our schools to be a reason for people to move to Manchester, not from. After having conversations with teachers and parents, I know that Manchester’s schools have been doing “more with less” for far too long. We need a bold vision for the district’s future, one that prioritizes educational equity in lifting up every student, one that attracts families to our city, one that provides the best education possible for all of our students.
Greatest Strength/Needs To Change: Our greatest strength is the dedication, passion, and work ethic of our teachers and staff. However, our teachers have been working without a contract for over a year now, and that’s wrong. As a proud product of public schools and a volunteer at my children’s public school — Smyth Road — I’m inspired by our teachers. We need a Board that works with and for our educators, a Board that invests in them and our students, a Board with the determination and persistence to get things done. I’m ready to do the work — that’s why I’m running for the School Board.
WARD 3 ALDERMAN
DANIEL HECK: Could not be reached.
PAT LONG, 64, wife Karen.
Top Issue: Quality of Life issues remain at the top of conversations as I talk to voters. Safety, pan handling, graffiti and homelessness to name a few. Collaboration with other Board of Alderman members is imperative in beginning to implement policies that have been tested and proven in other communities as best practices. One effort as it relates to community safety would be in confirming that our police department has all necessary resources and employees in addressing all issues stated above.
Tax cap: As I speak with voters, their understanding is the Tax Cap is meant to keep their taxes at bay. The voters also voted to allow for an override of a super majority. I do agree that the Cap is a spending and revenue cap. I would support an override when I’m clearly shown it’s of benefit to the Manchester community.
Greatest Strength/Needs To Change: Manchester’s greatest strength is the many citizens that take time away from their families and volunteer in our community. What needs to change are elected officials that continually highlight the negative challenges Manchester faces and not work with their colleagues collaboratively in addressing solutions.
MARY NGWANDA GEORGES (Incumbent), 62, mother of four children.
Funding: Providing teachers with benefits and incentives will make teachers work harder and stay in their respective schools to share experiences to students and the community at large.
Community will grow and develop if they are healthy.
• Education is a prime factor to promote the city and the state.Provide this to students and they will help maintain and promote the state for generations. Housing is also a critical issue to help the community feel it has human rights and safety.
• Improving employment opportunity to take people out of drugs and crime.
• Making the city beautiful, the roads, taking care of old houses.
• Benefit: gym membership (update teacher loans + facility.
• Investing beautification communities / schools/ business.
Biggest Challenge: Lack of motivation. Lack of morale. No clear vision of where we are going.
Greatest Strength/Needs To Change: The greatest strength — commitment of teachers that stay and weather the storm; they remain professional. Needs to change — update technology and access to technology.
KAREN SOULE, husband Michael, one married daughter Stephanie, son-in-law Wayne and granddaughter Grace.
Funding: Use some of the funds to assure that all students and teachers have the materials and supports to fully implement the recently adopted reading and math programs including ongoing professional development. Other programs or curriculum areas that are not fully funded should be considered. Fund any one-time expenses unanticipated or otherwise. Fund any infrastructure needs that support the mission of the Manchester School District that have been considered but not put into place due to lack of resources. Technology infrastructure comes to mind. Any uses of this windfall should not financially obligate the district in the future.
Biggest Challenge: The single biggest challenge facing the Manchester schools continues to be how we recruit, attract and retain educators who can prepare our diverse student population with the knowledge, skills and experiences essential for them to reach their greatest potential. Students enter our schools with diverse backgrounds, some having had adverse childhood experiences, some having come from other countries, some having educational disabilities, and all our students come with a variety of experiences. We have to be ready to welcome and educate all.
Greatest Strength/Needs To Change: I believe that beyond the care and commitment of the staff, the direction the district is moving with the redesign of West High School, redistricting, comprehensive programming, continuing to build relationships with community partners and accessing grant and foundation resources will maximize the educational opportunities for our students and their families.
Needs to change — Given the direction the district is moving, it is important to consistently use data, both hard and soft to determine what is leading to higher student achievement and growth. Using data consistently will also determine what programs, resources may need to change because data shows they are not supporting our goal of increasing student achievement.
WARD 4 ALDERMAN
CHRIS HERBERT (Incumbent): Could not be reached.
JIM ROY, 64, wife Joanne, three daughters.
Top Issue: Our top issue in Manchester I believe is mental health which I believe is fueling the opioid crisis and homelessness. Addressing this will require us to develop new programs and investing more resources.
Tax Cap: I would not support a tax cap override. The taxpayers told us, by going to the polls, they want this in place.
Greatest Strength/Needs To Change: Manchester’s greatest strength is our diverse, qualified and talented employees. What needs to change are our policies which are holding us back from being more innovative and efficient.
MARK FLANDERS, 63, wife Stephanie, children Adam and Brooke.
Funding: The $15 million received over the next 2 years is one-time funding.
It should not be used for operating expenses such as salaries or pay increases.
This much-needed money will help with our school funding issues and should be used to improve The Manchester School System. The money must be used to benefit our students and the quality of their education. I would allocate the funding for capital improvements to buildings, to add curriculum, security upgrades, more text books, upgrades to technology, supplies, reserves and to finally fully fund the arts programs throughout the school system.
Biggest Challenge: The single biggest challenge facing Manchester schools is lack of funding. Property taxes currently fund our schools. Simply raising property taxes isn’t the funding solution. The solution to funding is where you get the money and how it’s spent. We need a new approach to resolve our funding problems. We have to do business differently through utilization of property taxes, outside resources and consolidation. Our business and nonprofit community need to step up and provide more money. The nonprofit colleges, medical institutions and others in Manchester need to partner with our schools more significantly. They are not paying property taxes and profiting from their nonprofit designation.
Greatest Strength/Needs To Change: Manchester School District’s greatest strength is its unique history and diversity. In order for Manchester to thrive, attract homeowners and new business, we must have a first-class school system. Our schools should be a reason to move and stay here. Our youth need a reason to stay here. A school system is the foundation of a city. Manchester must have a strong business and nonprofit base and a world-class school system as well. To separate the Manchester School District from the competition we must offer more curriculum, expand our trades programs and fully fund the arts.
LESLIE WANT (incumbent), 57, family members Nick, Allison, and George.
Funding: This one-time money should be spent on one-time expenditures. I support the superintendent’s recommendation to adopt a high-quality city-wide reading program. I would also like to see planned renovations made to the east side middle schools to match the success we are experiencing on the west side this year by moving the 5th graders up to middle school. This allows us to reduce class sizes in the lower grades while expanding offerings for middle and high school learners.
Biggest Challenge: We face a limited ability to adequately fund our schools. We have been underfunded for years in large part due to elimination of support from the State and have depleted all of our Education Trust funds — using them to plug shortfalls for the last ten years. In my two short terms, we have successfully leveraged community/business partnerships to save money and will continue to do so. Although we are about to receive a sizable sum of one-time money, as chair of the Building and Sites Committee, I know we must use our tax dollars wisely to make needed changes to our facilities. This will allow us to continue to make strides toward reducing class sizes and provide quality instruction for students in a safe environment.
Greatest Strength/Needs To Change: The district’s greatest strength has always been its staff and teachers. They love our students and work hard every day to do the best job possible to help kids achieve their greatest potential. The diversity of our student population is also a great strength. All our students’ experiences and points-of-view make learning in Manchester a real-world experience. We have made tremendous positive strides in the last few years but we need to improve on communication with our city so people know the great things happening in our schools.