WARD 9 ALDERMAN
DANIEL LECLERC, 57, married, two sons.
Top Issue: I think most of the top issues facing the city today, homelessness, the opioid crisis, lack of affordable housing, etc., can be tied in together. First, I think affordable housing should be redefined so that it can benefit the people that really need it. Many of our homeless have a job or jobs, but still find it impossible to rent in Manchester. Some have transitional housing for those without a job yet, but have no address to put on an application. These are barriers that keep them from finding gainful employment. We need to work with our homeless and people in recovery, to get them job training and affordable mental healthcare access to assist their progressions back into the workforce. We also need employers to understand that recovery is a lifelong process, not something that can be fixed in a month. I am not an expert at any of these things, so I would be willing to work with organizations or agencies not only in N.H., but around the country, to find out what is working and apply it to our city and state.
Tax Cap: Saying I support the tax cap can be considered good and bad at the same time, because of how it’s worded. In 2011, voters approved the Limitation on Budget increase authorizing the Aldermen to do an increase within specific guidelines. So yes, I support the tax cap as it is written, but if there is a vote for an increase, there better be a damn good reason for me to approve it.
Greatest Strength/Needs To Change: I think one of Manchester’s greatest strengths is our people. We have such a huge diversity of culture and language that it makes it difficult for our teachers to teach sometimes, but we can also learn so much from each other. There are many organizations representing many cultures that hold festivals, etc., and we should promote more of that. Let’s embrace all communities and cultures to bring the city together and make it stronger by offering ESL classes, job training, basic understanding of finances, and more. I know that some religious organizations and businesses already implement some of these programs and I greatly appreciate them. We need to stop fearing change and learn to embrace it.
BARBARA SHAW (incumbent).
Top Issue: Drug issues including bail reform are the top issues of our city right now. It is so important that we all work as a team to gain control of the drug problem and intensify our efforts to gain control by education and enforcement. Bail reform must be tightened to eliminate the release of dangerous people who are back out on the streets within hours doing the same things for which they were arrested.
Tax Cap: Three years of those overrides were to use revenues that ultimately lowered the tax rates for our taxpayers. To say “no, never” is irresponsible. Each year has to be weighed on the issues facing and affecting that budget for that year. I honor the tax cap but I also know a provision to override was included in it for reasonable and responsible conditions.
Greatest Strength/Needs To Change: Manchester is rich in history and endurance. People make up this city, good hard-working people, who love it and keep it strong. We need to stop degrading the city, be a part of its strength, and work together to prevail and move forward.
ARTHUR BEAUDRY (incumbent).
FUNDING: First and foremost, this is one-time money and should not be spent on annual expenditures. I would like to see at least a third of it go into our expendable trust (which is extremely low) in case of future unexpected expenses arise. We desperately need curriculum. The academic audit indicated that we have 108 courses without curriculum. Offer professional development for all our employees including teachers paraprofessionals and support staff continue to work on the completion of our CIP priority list we have over $42 million in CIP projects to be completed.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Declining enrollment and maintaining the same amount of square footage. We had over 7,300 students in our high schools a decade ago and now we have approximately 3,900 students, yet we continue to maintain four high schools. The reluctance to change is detrimental to the overall well-being of our district.
Greatest Strength/Needs To Change: No question it is our staff that is the strongest asset of our district. We truly have some incredible employees working for our district. At times they don’t get the recognition they deserve. We all have to work together for the better good of our students. Change can be difficult, but we must accept change when it’s for the best interest of our students, staff and taxpayers.
CANDACE MOULTON, 36, married, two kids.
Funding: First and foremost, we need a sustainable contract for our educators. We need to attract teachers, paraprofessionals, and other positions to come to our district. We also need to give our educators the resources that they need in order to do their jobs. I would love to see some of this money go towards books, safety features, and anything else needed for outfitting the individual classrooms. I’d also love to see additional teachers hired so there can be smaller class sizes.
Biggest Challenge: Lack of funding seems to be the biggest challenge. When there aren’t enough books, salaries aren’t competitive, there are large class sizes etc., it all boils down to funding. We cannot expect the homes in Manchester to shoulder all of the costs when state legislation has siphoned funds away year after year. State legislation has to change to allow Manchester to get more funds without it burdening the residents. Advocacy in Concord has brought awareness to the issue, and fortunately, more funds are coming our way. We need this to be sustainable, though.
Greatest Strength/Needs To Change: We have so many strengths that it’s hard to choose just one. Our educators love the children, work so very hard, and are dedicated to their jobs. We have a diverse community population in Manchester, which is certainly a strength. I’m impressed by Dr. Goldhardt so far: he wants to put some of the funds we recently received to a reading program for the elementary schools. It is true that our literacy level needs improvement, and he is being proactive with it. I’d like to see our scores in other areas increase as well, such as mathematics.
WARD 10 ALDERMAN
BILL BARRY (incumbent), 59, wife and daughter.
Top Issue: Public safety is the number one issue that we face as a city. I have been in law enforcement for 35 years so it is important to me that we do whatever we can to make sure that our residents and property are safe and protected. I do periodic ride-a-longs with our first responders so that I can see first hand how they’re dealing with our public safety issues. It is important that our state pitches in to fight the opioid and homeless problem, not only financially, but to make sure that other cities are outfitted with treatment, mental health and shelters.
Tax Cap: The voters in Manchester voted for a tax cap as well as the provision for the Aldermen to override it. It is very important that we properly fund our city to ensure that our residents are safe, our children receive the best education possible and our roads are maintained and repaired. I am very proud to have had 50 streets reconstructed and paved in Ward 10 since I was elected. I will continue this trend in my next term as Alderman.
Greatest Strength: Manchester has always been a very giving community. We always come together as a community. It is important that we do whatever we can to attract more businesses to our city. We have a great airport, great mill yard and great social venues with the SNHU arena and Fisher Cats Stadium.
RAY HEBERT, 59 , wife and two sons.
Top Issue: Homelessness along with the drug problems. I truly believe that this is a citywide issue not just in the inner city. I believe we need to work with our Business partners in the medical community and our State officials. Together we all need to work on a way in which we can provide the help to those in need and also show them that they are part of the community. We need to show compassion and dignity to them. This issue is not an easy one to solve but together if we can help just one it is win.
Tax Cap: NO. There was no reason to override the tax cap the last four years, We have a spending issue. We need folks that are willing to dig their heals in and find where all the dollars are being spent. Every budget must be made knowing what is needed to operate for the year. You must have a reserve fund for the items that happen and need attention but that’s what the reserve fund is used for. We tend to spend funds to fill holes or mistakes in department budgets. The Alderman /School Boards are made up of folks that try. What we need are business minded folks on the board that work every day in the business community and work on budgets and know how to refrain from overspending.
Greatest Strength/Needs To Change: I truly believe our Education system is a great one. The teachers do a good job with our students. What I think would help out is to redistrict the school system which would help out with the overcrowding. Our city has some great venues, restaurants and several new housing units that we must promote. This is an asset when trying to convince businesses to move here. We must get rid of the assessment taxes that we put on all projects and investments in to existing projects that are happening in this city. This is nothing but a hidden tax that is not needed.
JOHN AVARD (incumbent), 51, married, five children, one grandchild.
Funding: Since this is all one-time money, it cannot reasonably be used for recurring expenses, like salaries. Much of it is earmarked for capital improvements, which we have a very long list that is re-prioritized each year. The balance would be best used on curriculum development and technological upgrades.
Biggest Challenge: We need to adopt uniform curriculum programs in all core subjects that aligns education from K to grade 12.
Greatest Strength/Needs To Change: The Manchester School District has dedicated employees that work tirelessly for the good of the student. We need to come to fair and sustainable agreements with all of the employee bargaining units that treats the employees like the professionals that they are, while respecting the financial limitations of the taxpayers.
JANE E. BEAULIEU, 65, daughter and grandson.
Biggest Challenge: Stable state school district funding, ensuring local property tax relief.
Greatest Strength/Needs To Change: Our dedicated school administrators and teachers, including easy access to school and student information parents need and want. The make-up of the school board and salary peace — a contract for our teachers.
WARD 11 ALDERMAN
NORMAND GAMACHE (incumbent), 81, wife, 2 grown children.
Top Issue: There are many important issues that our city faces and I am pleased to work with my colleagues on the BMA to address them. The most prevalent issue which affects us all is the opioid/homeless epidemic. This issue oftentimes paints our great city in a negative light. All of these individuals are someone’s loved one. I am committed to working with all stakeholders in addressing this and finding a solution.
Tax Cap: I am elected by the people to assure that our streets are clean and safe, that our schools have adequate resources to educate our children and to assure that city services are maintained at an acceptable level. When I have voted to override in the past, I was confident based upon information that was presented to me that when the final tax rates came in that they would be less than the tax cap allowed. The past 4 years the final tax rate was under the allotted tax cap.
Greatest Strength/Needs To Change: I believe in Manchester and am committed to consistently doing my part to make this city a better place to work and play. With the SNHU arena, our cultural arts centers including the Palace Theatre, the ballpark, the river walk and rail trail in addition to our fine restaurants and convention centers, we have a lot to be proud of. As far as change goes, week to week, year to year there will always be challenges that face us as we grow as a city. Collaboration between all stakeholders is the most effective way to move our fine city forward.
RUSS OUELLETTE, 53, married, two daughters.
Top Issue: Manchester is a small city that has attracted big-city problems. The top issue facing the city today is the same issue we have been trying to address for the past several years, that is the opioid crisis and mental health issues. These drug addictions have caused a dramatic increase in violent crime and have overburdened our city. Our homeless population is exploding right before our very eyes. Our city does not have the infrastructure or financial means to address these issues alone. We need to have an action plan to address these issues. Yes, having task forces and committees are pretty but without action they are just another way for people to feel good about themselves without a solution. We need tobring all parties to the table to work out a sustainable plan and put it into place.
Tax Cap: My response to this question in the primary election speaks for itself. I mean really, four years in a row. We keep electing people who claim to respect the tax cap (or the charter for that matter) when they are running for office; however they are unwilling to make tough decisions to live within the means of the cap and vote to override it year after year. Salaries and benefits are a budgeted item and not an emergency. Our democracy is threatened when the will of the people are infringed upon. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Let’s try something different this election, how about electing people who do not have a record of irresponsible spending and broken promises.
Greatest Strength/Needs To Change: I think Manchester’s greatest strength is our neighborhoods. I currently serve as President of the Rimmon Heights Neighborhood Group. Our group is a prime example of a group of people coming together to make our neighborhood a better place to live and raise a family. The city cannot be expected to solve all problems for everybody. Citizens have a responsibility to take care and look out for one another. What needs to change is we need more groups like Rimmon Heights to work with expanded community policing efforts to take back our neighborhoods.
NICOLE LEAPLEY: Could not be reached.
BRITTANY LACLEAR-PING, 32, married, two children.
Funding: As I understand it, half of the funds coming in are to be spent as seen fit by the school district. This should go toward one-time expenses or short-term gains like technology upgrades, energy efficiency, and filling in curriculum gaps/bulking up existing curriculum. The other half is to be spent on infrastructure, an issue we have over $45 million of spending planned to address our buildings as we move to use them in more practical and updated ways. We should use those funds toward those existing plans.
Biggest Challenge: Violence in the schools. Assaults on students are being labeled as “fights” for convenience. Children are being assaulted in front of schools or near their schools on their way home. This is not an issue that I see as being taken seriously, but it is an issue I hear come up continuously when talking to families about their children.
Greatest Strength/Needs To Change: Our teachers. No doubt, our teachers are our biggest strength, which is why it’s upsetting they are without a contract and feel limited in growth and opportunity. Like any other workplace, if employees are not engaged, you’re going to see diminishing results. We need to secure a contract and then we need to create an environment that supports our teachers so we can retain and attract our number one asset.
WARD 12 ALDERMAN
HASSAN ESSA, 22, engaged, family includes parents, two older sisters, a nephew and a niece.
Top Issue: As I’ve knocked on doors throughout our community, it is clear that the people of our city are concerned about the strains that are placed on our public safety and housing services as a result of our city being the epicenter of the state. As we continue to develop innovative plans to end the opioid public health crisis led by Mayor Craig and our public safety leaders, we need to make certain that the state contributes its fair share. Given the oversized burden our city faces, we need to continue to bring in state and federal funds to increase resources, and as an Alderman I will work towards creating a position for a full-time grant writer to bring more money into the city without having to increase taxes to do so.
Tax Cap: The tax cap was originally implemented as a way to limit taxes in the city. The reality is that, today, it doesn’t do that at all. Instead, what we’ve ended up with is a disastrous cap on revenue for the city with built-in tax increases. It not only restricts what the city can bring in, but it also forces our taxes to increase based on Consumer Product Index data. Any new homes built or any surpluses require an override to properly utilize the funds. To call it a tax cap is misleading when your taxes are forced to increase because of it.
Biggest Strength/Needs To Change: Manchester’s biggest strength has always been our ability to adapt in the face of adversity. We can always do better and the fresh perspective that I’ll bring to city hall will do just that. What needs to improve is the amount of resources directed to the West Side. We should have more sidewalks, community events in our own neighborhoods, and more West Side based after-school programs for children. I will go to City Hall and advocate for the West Side every day.
KEITH HIRSCHMANN (incumbent), married, two adult children, two grandchildren.
Top Issue: The number one issue is ensuring that our police department has enough officers to battle the drug-fueled crime epidemic. Crime, drug activity, vagrants have stressed our resources. Our officers have been working long stressful shifts, with their lives in constant danger. The long standoff shootout at the Quality Inn was an awful reality the drug dealers are a constant threat to the safety of our community. I made the motion to add 10 officers immediately and it passed. We need another 10 in 2020 to ensure your safety .
Tax Cap: I will not override the tax cap. I will instead write a responsible budget that offers growth within the cap. Constant automation and new technology can bring savings. One idea is to have a kiosk in City Hall that accepts credit cards for any city payment out in a hallway, without waiting in a line.
Greatest Strength/Needs To Change: Our strength is the citizens that continue to invest in our real estate. Home ownership, business ownership and private investment in Manchester are extremely strong. We love our city.
What needs to change is the attitude Manchester can take in everyone in addiction from around the state. Manchester taxpayers are fed up with addicts living on our streets and parks, often dumped here thinking there are services for them. The experiment of Safe Stations must end. The arms wide open policy of our fire chief has had a very negative cause and effect. Vagrants, addicts and criminals that our community does not need. The alderman can change this with a simple vote to clamp down hard, offering programs to our citizens only.
KELLY THOMAS (incumbent).
Funding: First and foremost, I would like to see funding used towards resources for the students. There have been far too many teachers coming forward during BOSC meetings expressing frustration surrounding this. We need to listen to them. Teachers have been teaching with little resources and that needs to stop. We expect them to teach with tools they do not have, which is unfair to both the teachers and students. Second, I would like to see funding used to develop behavioral health programs in our schools.
Biggest Challenge: I believe the biggest challenge facing Manchester schools is the lack of resources. Numerous teachers have come forward with a desire to obtain new textbooks and supplies. We need new sports supplies and to develop more programs to engage the students.
Greatest Strength/Needs To Change: I believe Manchester School District’s greatest strength is the district teachers, staff, and administration. Manchester’s teachers are passionate, fun, warm, and patient which I admire because both of my children attend school in the Manchester School District. In the community, I hear positive comments regarding Manchester School District staff. The administration work hard to solve issues and work together as a team to guide our schools.
ANDREW TOLAND, 38, married, two children.
Funding: Since it’s one-time funding, the money should be allocated for one-time expenses – and I’m certain our school district has a lot of them. I’m specifically thinking of books, technology and classroom supplies, but I think we need to ask our educators what they need. We hire them to do a job, and part of that is giving them discretion over how money is spent. I’m hopeful that Superintendent Goldhardt will include such input in the allocation of funds.
Biggest Challenge: Our toughest challenge is overcoming the negative perception some have of our schools. This is not to say that education funding is not a serious challenge, however, money alone won’t change perceptions, nor will it improve morale in the schools. Our schools are doing amazing things that we should all be proud of. We need our elected representatives to champion our progress and accomplishments to build support in our community and beyond.
Greatest Strength/Needs To Change: Our caring, dedicated school staff are our greatest strength. Undeterred by challenges presented by poverty and the opioids epidemic, our educators work hard to find creative solutions to deliver on their mission. It’s bad enough that teachers need to spend money out of pocket to outfit their rooms and hold fundraisers to collect needed supplies – all of our education staff are currently working on expired contracts. We need to do more to retain our current staff and recruit new staff, and fair contracts are a major part of that. As things are, we’re daring teachers, administrators and paraprofessionals to jump to other districts, and we need to stop that.