Campaign two thousand fifteen continues to heat up in the Queen City. Yesterday, Mayor Ted Gatsas announced Teamsters Local 6 3 3 has endorsed his reelection bid. The local represents employees in the city’s Police Department, Welfare Office, Airport and Library and says it has one thousand members who live in the city. David Laughton, Secretary-Treasurer and Principal Officer of Local 6 3 3 said in his six years as mayor, Gatsas has quote “led the city fairly and always provided an honest dialogue between our affiliated employees and city officials. We appreciate his sincerity, value his candor and believe that his record of accomplishment for the city are more than deserving of a Teamster endorsement.”
Of course, Gatsas was honored to receive the support.
He could have used a little of that support last night as he clashed with rival Joyce Craig in the first of six town halls the pair will hold before November Third’s election. It was a tough night for the mayor at the McDonough Elementary School in Ward Four as he got pounded by questions from the audience and defended the city, its schools and his record against Craig’s attacks. At one point, Gatsas asked for a show of hands from those who were teachers or retired teachers. About half the approximately one hundred people in the room raised their hands.
The first question of the night came from Ward Four State Rep. and aldermanic candidate Christopher Herbert who asked the mayor why he wasn’t advocating for the reauthorization of the expanded Medicaid program to help fight the heroin epidemic. Gatsas said the program was going to run through two thousand seventeen and that the legislature was going to take up whether or not it should be reauthorized in January.
That answer was unsatisfactory to Craig who demanded a yes or no answer to the question of whether or not he supported reauthorization. When she didn’t get her yes or no, she jabbed at Gatsas for refusing to answer the question. She, of course, said she’d advocate for its reauthorization.
The mayor fended of questions about the heroin epidemic, which Craig said was spiraling out of control because of his failure to have a plan, told residents that city real estate values were actually rising and much more rapidly than in surrounding towns when asked about why families were moving out and property values were going down because of the schools, touted the city having the principal, teacher and school of the year when people criticized the school district and pointed to the First Jr. STEAM Ahead and STEAM Ahead programs and the Manchester School of Technology expansion when challenged about insufficient resources and the poor reputation of the city’s schools.
Where Gatsas was relentlessly positive, Craig was persistently negative saying the city needed solutions, but other than expanding Medicaid and saying the city wasn’t providing sufficient resources to the schools, she offered none.
Ward Ten Aldermanic Candidate Ray Hebert took a veiled shot at rival Bill Barry, the incumbent alderman. In an online post referencing the current controversy over aldermen and school board members taking city health benefits, Hebert wrote quote:
Health Benefits are for full time employees. Let’s take the money and put it where it’s needed. Manchester needs a drug court, more teachers, more fire fighters and more police officers. If elected, I will NOT take the health benefit. Hebert and Barry have agreed to debate here on Girard at Large. We’ll announce the date as soon as it’s arranged.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
Governor Margaret Wood Hassan came to Manchester bearing gifts yesterday, announcing a ninety thousand dollar grant that will allow the State Police to provide about twelve hundred additional hours of manpower to assist efforts like the Manchester Police Department’s “Operation Granite Hammer,” the department’s recently launched initiative to rid the city of street-level dealers and seize illicit drugs.
Hassan also announced a sixty thousand dollar grant for the State Police Forensic Laboratory to begin to reduce the growing backlog of drug cases needing analysis. The added overtime will enable the processing of an additional sixty to eighty cases per month. The current backlog numbers thirty seven hundred cases.
These grants will build on the State Police’s ongoing efforts to assist local communities in combating the opioid crisis, which include the addition of two detectives to its drug enforcement unit and a criminalist to process cases in the state lab; items delayed by the budget standoff in Concord. The New Hampshire Department of Justice awarded the two grants to the Department of Safety from federal funds through the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program.
A news note for those in Goffstown; on October 4th, that’s this Sunday, from eight to one, the Goffstown Fire and Police departments will be having what they’re calling a “large scale exercise” at Goffstown High. The school’s campus and parking areas will be closed to the public during that time.
Also on Sunday, the Manchester Fire Department will hold its annual Fire Prevention Parade to kick off National Fire Prevention Week. The event is New England’s largest parade of firefighting and emergency apparatus. The trucks, old, new, vintage and cutting edge start their noisy trip down Elm Street at Noon.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next!