IN ADDITION to the election of the mayor, aldermen, school committee and representatives to the school district charter commission, Manchester also will have three questions on the November ballot. The questions will be on the reverse of the ballot, so do not forget to turn your ballot over to vote on the questions.
The first question is not controversial and is nonpartisan.
It is a city charter amendment that would give the Board of Mayor and Aldermen the authority to adjust the city’s ward lines after each federal census (which occur every 10 years) to balance the wards’ populations equally.
Currently, the charter contains the ward lines, which means that the charter has to be amended every 10 years by a citywide vote. That process is an unnecessary expense. Manchester residents still will have an opportunity to weigh in through a public hearing on any new ward lines.
Having the ward lines in the city charter never really made sense.
The adjustments typically are not controversial, although people who reside near district boundaries may be unhappy to find they are in new wards (it happened to me in 2001). However, under the federal Constitution, the rule is one person, one vote, which means electoral districts must be approximately equal.
The second question also is nonpartisan, but does carry some controversy.
During the last legislative session in Concord, a bill was enacted that permits gambling on sports in New Hampshire at up to 10 physical sports-book locations as well as up to five online sites.
The New Hampshire Lottery Commission will determine the locations by awarding contracts to applicants.
In order for a sports book to locate in any given municipality, the town or city has to enact an enabling ordinance permitting a physical sports-gambling site in the community.
Question 2 therefore needs to receive a “yes” vote for a legal sports betting facility to be located in Manchester.
I stress the word “legal” because anyone who thinks sports gambling does not occur in Manchester is naive. I remember some of my classmates betting on football cards when I was in high school in Manchester.
Legalized sports betting will be regulated by the state, so gamers will be assured of an honest game.
Also, a portion of the proceeds will come back to the state for education funding.
The third question is non-binding, so that even if it receives a majority vote, it might not be implemented.
It asks if voters are in favor of having a non-voting representative from each of the four high schools serve on the Manchester school committee.
The student representatives would rotate so that a different student representative would serve each week.
Opponents of the proposal say that students already have the opportunity to present reports to the board.
Proponents, however, say that limits the ability of the student representatives to participate in discussions on all matters coming before the board.
I am going to vote for this one, as well as the other two.
Having a student representative sitting at the table can only serve to improve communication within the school district. In addition, the purpose of the school district is to educate these students; we should be interested in what they have to say about how the system is working — or not working.
When you vote, do not forget to turn the ballot over to find the questions.
You also can find the sample ballot for your ward on the clerk’s website. In addition to mayor, aldermen at large, school committee at large, and ward alderman and school committee, there also will be elections for ward moderator, ward clerk and selectmen.
There also will be an election for nine members of the school district charter commission.
That will be a separate ballot, and you can find a sample ballot for that election on the clerk’s website as well.