Joyce Craig: Manchester has made 'significant progress, but we’re not done'

Mayor Joyce Craig speaks with a reporter at the Rex Theatre in Manchester.

IN LESS THAN two years as mayor, I’ve worked to engage and empower our community to think big, confront our challenges and imagine what Manchester can be. There is a new energy in our city, and together, we’re delivering real results on the priorities that matter most to Queen City residents. Through collaboration, we’re improving public safety, strengthening our schools and growing our economy.

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Manchester is working because we’re working together. When I first took office, I promised to build a culture of collaboration in City Hall, to make our city government more accessible, and to bring people together to solve problems.

I’ve led from our neighborhoods — not from behind my desk. Since I took office, we’ve had over 25 community meetings in restaurants, coffee shops, community centers and retirement communities in every ward, and together we’ve brought your ideas to life in our city.

This culture of collaboration is having measurable effects on our city. We’re seeing the community coming together to roll up our sleeves and address our challenges head-on.

Since day one, ensuring public safety has been my number-one priority. I’ve worked closely with Chief Capano and the Manchester Police Department to address the needs of our city, and through the hard work of our police officers, we’ve seen a six percent decrease in crime this year. In addition, we’ve increased community policing efforts across the city, added foot patrols downtown, approved adding 15 officers to our police force, and fully funded body cameras for the first time in history.

The opioid crisis has affected families across our city. Too many lives have been lost, and too many families have suffered because of long wait times for treatment. When I first took office, we worked collaboratively to make the Safe Station process more efficient — reducing the time it takes to access treatment from an average of 2-3 weeks to 2-3 days. In 2018, Manchester saw the first decrease in opioid overdoses, and overdoses continue to be down 16%. And I have been advocating at the state level to ensure individuals can receive treatment in their own communities. The opioid epidemic is a statewide problem and I’ll continue to fight to ensure Manchester doesn’t shoulder the burden of the state.

This spirit of collaboration is delivering results for our students as well. We are creating a community-led strategic plan for our public schools with Manchester Proud. We’ve looked outside the city to bring new sources of funding into our schools, and secured over $11 million in grants to improve student achievement and college and career readiness. And, we allocated the largest increase in public school funding in 14 years, which allowed us to make the district’s largest investment in technology, implement a new math curriculum, and reduce class sizes through redistricting.

I’ve heard time and time again that businesses struggle to find employees. So, last year I teamed up with Eversource and Velcro to develop and bring new workforce development programs to Central and West — Velcro University and Eversource Academy. Students in these programs have opportunities for summer internships and employment after graduation.

There is still more work to do to continue strengthening our schools, but by providing them the resources they need and opening new doors to our students and educators, our children are receiving better educations and our community is growing stronger.

We have the opportunity for bold progress. We’re seeing incredible growth and people know Manchester is a smart investment. In my first term, Manchester has seen over $250 million in new, private investments in economic development. We partnered with the state to bring BAE Systems to Manchester along with 800 new, good-paying jobs. And we’re seeing new restaurants, hotels, retail stores and businesses opening their doors and seeing the success that comes from committing to the Queen City. Just this week, we opened the doors of the Rex Theatre, a new 300-seat entertainment venue in the heart of downtown.

Together, we are making progress for Manchester, but there is still work to do. On November 5th, we will decide if we want to continue the progress we’ve made together — improving public safety, strengthening our schools, and growing our economy.

Now is the time to continue the bold progress we’ve made over the last two years. With a six percent drop in crime, the largest increase in public school funding in 14 years, and over $250 million in new, private investment in economic development, bold progress is exactly what we’re delivering. Let’s continue building a stronger Manchester, together. I ask for your vote on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Joyce Craig is mayor of Manchester.