Manchester Alderman Patrick Arnold laid out the agenda for his mayoral campaign in a speech from City Hall today. These are the written materials released in conjunction with that speech. Analysis and commentary tomorrow. Be sure to tune in!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 20, 2013
Mayoral Candidate Patrick Arnold Announces Details of “Restore, Renew, Reform” Plan
Manchester, NH – Alderman Patrick Arnold announced his campaign’s major policy initiatives in a speech at City Hall today, focusing on three key areas for improvement: education, public safety, and economic development.
Alderman Arnold’s proposals include:
“This campaign is about bringing a new vision and new leadership to the city of Manchester,” said Alderman Arnold. “I believe we can do better as a city. We must restore our commitment to our children and provide them with quality educational opportunities. We must renew our role as the leading city of the State of New Hampshire – especially in innovation and job opportunities. And we must reform the way government serves the city’s residents, putting aside personal politics and current leadership’s ‘my way or the highway’ leadership style to build consensus for a new way forward for our city.”
Hello everyone. Thanks for coming today. I’m Patrick Arnold and I’m running for Mayor of Manchester. Since 2009, I’ve had the privilege of serving the citizens and taxpayers of Manchester as a member of the city’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen. During that time, I have seen first-hand the great opportunities our city has to offer, as well as many of its challenges.
Any conversation about what makes Manchester great always begins with her people. I chose to come to Manchester to attend law school. I met my wife, Kathy, here. In July, our first daughter, Abigail, was born here. I believe in this city, and in her people, and I am certain that our best days are ahead.
Under the current administration, we have imagined the possibilities, and yet we have never seen a more divisive and dysfunctional political environment at City Hall. We find ourselves shrinking from challenges rather than facing them. We’ve seen a decline in many things, but worst of all, our faith in a brighter future has declined.
Divisiveness… dysfunction… decline… That is not leadership. It’s not leadership to say that the challenges we face in Manchester are acceptable simply because they can be found in other communities as well. But make no mistake – I am running for Mayor not to oppose the current mayor, but to propose new policies and a new agenda for our city.
We must focus on improvements in three key areas – education, public safety, and economic development. We must RESTORE our commitment to our children and provide them with quality educational opportunities. We must RENEW our role as the leading city of the State of New Hampshire – especially in innovation and job opportunities. And we must REFORM the way government serves the city’s residents. We are in the business of serving.
With regards to education – over the last few years, the challenges of the Manchester school system have been well documented. Our community has endured significant curriculum cuts and massive teacher layoffs under the guise of fiscal responsibility. These decisions have resulted in larger class sizes – many failing to meet the state’s minimum standards – and have led the city into legal battles with surrounding communities looking to educate their children elsewhere.
The loss of students from surrounding communities will have a devastating impact on our school district. I’m not just talking about the loss of millions of dollars in revenue. For a city that wants to attract young families and workers to strengthen our economy, we must realize that that effort begins with keeping students from surrounding towns in our schools.
Mayor Gatsas has said larger class sizes better prepare students for college. I disagree. He has pointed to his own experience as a student in Manchester schools as evidence that our schools are in good shape and on the right track. Over the last year, I toured all the schools of our district. We have dedicated professionals and students who want to learn, but we are not on the right track. For your children and for my daughter Abigail’s sake, I will fight for a better education system and see us back on the right track. What kind of future will we have if we do not educate our children well? It makes fiscal sense. It makes common sense. It’s the right thing to do.
Recently, a team of external auditors, paid for with taxpayer dollars, conducted a district-wide review of the Manchester school system.
There are students in our district who can’t read. That is unacceptable.
The auditors noted that “disharmony on the School Board has compromised the Board’s ability to provide clear direction and focus for management and operation of the School District.” That’s unacceptable.
The auditors noted that there has been virtually no improvement in academic performance over the last four years. That is absolutely and plainly unacceptable.
Some of the best public schools in the country are found in cities with far greater challenges than those that we face in Manchester. Challenges of the 21st century require recognition that we no longer live in a city, state, or national economy, but rather a global economy. Do we want to make sure that every opportunity and incentive exists for people to live and raise families in Manchester? Of course we do. But it’s also imperative that students who graduate from Manchester schools must be prepared to succeed anywhere in the world.
As Mayor, I will advocate district-wide reforms in curriculum and assessment. Not only must we dramatically improve student proficiencies in mathematics and science, but we must also place special emphasis on foreign language offerings. In a Patrick Arnold administration, foreign language offerings will be restored at the high schools, and expanded to the middle schools.
No single person has all the answers. Solutions are found through collaboration, not intimidation. A leader’s chief responsibility is to build consensus. As Mayor, I will guarantee that all stakeholders have a say in the process. As Mayor, I will propose creation of a business leader advisory council to propose revisions to our district’s curriculum. This will aid policymakers and educators can better equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to maximize their competitive edge in the job markets of today… and tomorrow.
I’m told by the current administration that we are doing the best that we can with the resources we have in our community. I don’t believe that. Do you? It’s a matter of priorities. We hear lots of buzz words, but no long-term vision. Whether it’s from savings in stopping the questionable land deals or bad contracts with city vendors, the resources are there to make education a priority again. We have the resources to restore our commitment to our children in making sure that every single student in the Manchester school district has the tools needed to take the next steps after high school.
We expect our children to do better than minimum standards. We ourselves should do better than minimum standards in providing educational opportunities for them. We can do better and we must do better. Under new leadership in the corner office, WE WILL DO BETTER.
Public Safety & Quality of Life
Manchester used to hold the promise of being the best place to live and raise a family. Our city used to boast a very strong quality of life. Now there are studies and statistics that can show just about anything, but the reality is that families in our city are looking to raise their children elsewhere. Though it’s understandable, it’s unacceptable. And yet we stand idly by while this is happening.
According to the FBI, violent crimes have increased in our city annually over the last four years. Robberies have increased 20% from where they were in 2009. Earlier this year, our city saw 30 burglaries of homes and businesses in one week. That is unacceptable and will not be tolerated under a Patrick Arnold administration.
As Mayor, I will work with our law enforcement community to evaluate both how we track criminal activity in our city and how we can better allocate the resources we have to fight crime. It’s also important for us to improve our own accountability to you, the taxpayers and residents who call Manchester home.
As Mayor, I would speak with the Chief of Police daily until we resolve these issues and stop these trends. We have the resources to make this happen. You deserve it. And we’ll deliver.
Despite hearing catchphrases like “we’re a city of one,” the quality of life for Manchester residents can unfortunately depend a lot on where you live in the city. As Mayor, I will guarantee that the Community Improvement Program invests in every single ward in the city. Every dollar that gets spent on streets, parks, sewer upgrades and community projects goes through the CIP process and there is no reason why some parts of this city must wait years for improvements to their neighborhoods, while others seem to always be on the short list. We all pay taxes. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever. If we say we’re “one city,” we need to live up to it and actually act as one city.
Job Growth & Economic Development
With regards to economic development, Manchester used to lead in industry and innovation. Mayor Wieczorek is known for his vision for the Manchester airport and the Verizon Wireless Arena. Mayor Baines paved the way for the Fisher Cat stadium. He pushed his shoulder against the wall to bring Manchester schools to the forefront of discussions at City Hall… and he made no apologies for doing so. Mayor Guinta genuinely fought for fiscal restraint in city government. Before all of them, Mayor Dupuis made enduring and long-term investments in transportation infrastructure, housing for senior citizens, and economic development. What has our leading economic development initiative been during the current administration? What is the Gatsas administration known for? The 3 d’s: Divisiveness… Dysfunction… and Decline.
Manchester is not New Hampshire’s leading city merely by the size of our population. Such a reputation must be earned. We must think big – and pursue projects that serve not just certain interest groups, or individual businesses, but rather the community as a whole.
As Mayor, I will cut red tape in the zoning process to make urban blight a thing of the past. We must incentivize the development of empty lots, abandoned warehouses, and neglected residential properties. Other cities have a construction boom downtown and so will we. And every resident will be proud to call their neighborhood home.
I believe some of our city’s greatest opportunities are found with the Merrimack River. As Mayor, I will advocate creation of a River Development Authority to pursue and promote economic activities on and around the Merrimack River. This will include construction of a boardwalk promenade with retail vendors, entertainment and recreation activities that can rival similar projects like those found in San Antonio and Pittsburgh. Projects like this will again make Manchester the envy of the state and the region. And a booming downtown economy will make the argument for commuter rail to Manchester that much stronger.
In a Patrick Arnold administration, our city government will be a partner with business owners and entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and create good-paying jobs… jobs that can support a family. As Mayor, I will create a one-stop shop for business owners as they go through the licensing and permitting process. And to cut politics out of the equation, I will make sure that process is not housed within the Mayor’s Office.
The era of business owners needing political friends inside City Hall must come to an end. It is not government’s place to choose the winners and losers in our economy, and under new leadership… THIS PRACTICE WILL END.
Some have observed that, at age 30, I am the youngest Alderman in the city. I’m old enough to care deeply about my daughter’s future. I’m old enough to know that minimum standards are not acceptable. I’m old enough to know that 30 burglaries in a week is not the city I want her to grow up in.
I’m old enough to know these things, but young enough to know that it doesn’t have to be this way.
I am not so jaded, not so entrenched as to believe that the current challenges we face are inevitable or impossible to overcome. They are not.
No one is going to convince me that we cannot afford to fix all of the pot holes, or have safe streets, or have the best education system in the State of New Hampshire. We can afford these things with the resources we have, but we need a change in leadership for the willpower to do it. Together, we will RESTORE our commitment to our children. We will RENEW our role as the leading city of the State of New Hampshire. We can and we will REFORM how we do business in this city and how our city government serves its people.
I have seen the potential of people in this city when there is resolve. When the current mayor said he was willing to look at a proposal for a private prison in our city, I opposed it. Others opposed it, and we have closed the door on such nonsense. Let’s fight for something worth fighting for. We are the largest city in the State; we have a responsibility to lead the way in New Hampshire. If you believe in our vision that Manchester is supposed to be the best that our state has to offer, I am asking for your vote. I am asking for you to join our campaign, and I am asking you to believe that we can do better.
Alderman Patrick Arnold