The political pair have sparred before when they served together on the Board of Alderman between 2008 and 2010, and now almost a decade later they are running against each other for the vacant at-large seat left behind by the late president of the Board of Aldermen, Brian McCarthy, who passed away suddenly on November 4.
On March 5, Nashua voters will head to the polls for a special election that pits Fred Teeboom against Ben Clemons.
The candidates were the only two who emerged with an interest to serve on the board. Both gentlemen are worlds apart in political philosophy, have enough experience and are well known to residents across the city, especially to those who enjoy following city hall happenings and are interested in keeping an eye on public servants who deal with millions of dollars in budgets, union contracts, major building projects and the like.
Back in 2008, Teeboom and Clemons famously clashed over what Teeboom called out as “dirty money,” or when candidates accept campaign contributions from unions.
He had singled out two fire commissioners who had received donations from the firefighters union when they ran for their seats. Teeboom claimed the two were well aware that their board would be negotiating a labor contract with the union. He also attacked his fellow aldermen for accepting these kinds of contributions.
Teeboom said that unions “expect a return on their investment” when a charitable gift is being handed over to a candidate.
Other aldermen fired back, saying Teeboom had previously welcomed a contribution from the Nashua Taxpayers Association, which was akin to getting donations from a union.
During a board of aldermen’s meeting, Teeboom took further aim at Nashua firefighters, balking at overtime pay issued to those asleep during shifts at the fire station.
“Something bugs me about this particular union,” he said. Teeboom claimed that the union brags about the risks their job entails when others who punch a clock for the city, including police and teachers, also “put their lives on the line.”
At the time, Clemons had received sizable campaign contributions from both the local and state firefighter associations and the teachers union. He had some sharp words for Teeboom, saying his colleague “shows his disdain for the fire department and for that group of city employees. I don’t think that’s an appropriate statement.”
Special elections don’t often draw many voters to the polls, but this one’s a race to watch. I couldn’t even call this one, but I applaud both candidates for caring enough about their city to run for office again. Both show a passion for Nashua politics and both have a seasoned grasp of the topics at hand.
Like I’ve always said, folks here get paid virtual peanuts to serve as an alderman or board of education member. You really need to love the job and the commitment.
The vacant seat has a term that runs through Dec. 31, 2021.
The polls will be open on Tuesday, March 5, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., at voting locations in all nine wards.