The Mayor’s Youth Council hosted debates for alderman at-Large, Welfare Commissioner and Mayor last night.  Attending at-Large debate were challenger S. Daniel Mattingly and incumbent Joe Kelly Levasseur.  Challenger Will Infantine did not attend as he was at Game Six of the World Series and incumbent Dan O’Neil was a no show.  Mattingly’s centered his campaign around the belief that if the city is to improve growth and economic development, it must improve its transit system and spoke articulately to that and related points during the debate.  Levasseur’s based his campaign around himself and it showed last night as he made obvious overtures to constituencies he may need to get some votes from given the upheaval he’s caused with the ranks of the Republican Party.  He praised city employees for being reasonable in their contract demands, praised education advocates for fighting and winning increased school funding two years ago,  praised parts of ObamaCare, which he referred to as the Affordable Care Act, he even almost praised Police Chief David Mara.  It was fun to watch.

The debate for Welfare Commissioner was spirited between incumbent Paul Martineau and challenger Diane Guimond.  Both sounded familiar themes in their campaigns with Martineau emphasizing how the the application and screening process had been improved, dramatically reducing incidents of fraud while maximizing referrals to the city’s more than eighty social service agencies where more appropriate, ongoing assistance could be rendered.  Guimond faulted Martineau, who chaffed at assertions the department wasn’t helping the needy, for a process driven business approach rather than a people centered, respectful approach.  She said the Welfare Commissioner needed to be like the conductor of an orchestra that led the coordination of social service agencies to assist the poor and said the department should do the work of picking up the phone and calling around to outside agencies to see what was available before referring people, who, she said, were sometimes sent back by those agencies because they couldn’t help.

The mayor’s debate was marked by a couple of interesting exchanges between incumbent Mayor Ted Gatsas and challenger Alderman Patrick Arnold.  Arnold sounded familiar themes about being able to do better and seemed most at home when speaking to school issues, saying improving the schools was the key to attracting young families to the city.  He accused the mayor of not having education as a priority and of cutting school budgets.  Gatsas took him to task on the cut issue noting that more money is being spent now than before he took office four years ago and chided Arnold for not developing budget proposals of his own to address the issues he’s complained about on the campaign trail.  He said Arnold should tell people how he would budget differently and how he’d pay for all the things he said he wanted to do if elected.  “There you go again, mayor, saying ‘how are you going to pay for it,'” retorted Arnold who then went on to say the job of the mayor was to cast a vision and work collaboratively with others to get it done.

News from our own backyard continues after this.

The Manchester Police Department has taken Jeremy Ruiz into custody.  He’s believed to be the person who shot thirty year old Anthony Pedra on the West Side this past Sunday, sending him to the hospital with a bullet wound in the abdomen.  The police have said all along they knew who they were looking for.  Little did they know they’d spot Ruiz walking near the corner of Beech and Valley streets, just a block or so away from police headquarters.  He was taken into custody without incident.  The gun he allegedly used to shoot Pedra has yet to be recovered.

The Merrimack Police Department has issued a reminder notice to folks in town regarding Winter parking rules.  Starting November fifteenth, a parking ban will go into affect, prohibiting any vehicle or trailer from being parked on town streets between the hours of eleven P M and six A M.  We’ve posted their notice with these details, as well as their snow emergency and snow removal regulations for your convenience with the news cast at Girard at Large dot com.

That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is straight ahead.