Well Round Two of the Mayoral Town Hall Forum Series is in the books and it was a fun one to watch as incumbent Mayor Ted Gatsas and challenger Ward One Alderman Joyce Craig duked it out over schools, school safety, drug court, solid waste, the Tax Cap, union contracts, treatment of refugees, the need to change government and the direction of the city. The exchange was, at times, fiery as Gatsas aggressively counter punched charges leveled by Craig not just from last night’s event at Hillside, but from last week’s opening round at McDonough Elementary.
The two sounded familiar themes as things got underway, with Gatsas emphasizing leadership, trust and experience handling the city’s three hundred five million dollar operating budget and underscoring the good things in the community.
Craig agreed this election was about trust and hammered her themes of communication and collaboration while asking people if they thought the schools were better, the streets were safer and the city was cleaner than when Gatsas took office six years ago.
Gatsas seized on Craig’s “are you better off” theme by pointing out that during their mutual time in office over the past six years, she’s voted for most things he’s proposed, saying he could only remember a couple of major issues where she didn’t, such as the two point seven million dollar bond he proposed to upgrade the technology and security infrastructure in every school and the two million bond for the expansion of the Manchester School of Technology’s four year high school.
Craig developed amnesia about her opposition to the technology bond after a question about last year’s incident at West High School, where the building was locked down after a student was reported inside with a gun. Craig said she didn’t remember voting against it, so she couldn’t combat the mayor’s charge, but said there’s no way she would have objected to it if improved safety and that if she did, it would have been because there was a question of how to pay for it. She then went on to say that, as a mother with kids in the schools, she would do everything in her power to make them as safe as they could be.
When it came to spending on schools and whether or not it was enough, Craig said she’d propose budgets within the Tax Cap and said she’d work to bring in outside grant money which she said the city was losing because of Gatsas’ poor relationship with the state Department of Education.
Gatsas called Craig out on her claims that her kids were without books at last week’s forum. He said he was concerned by what she said, enough so that he called School Superintendent Debra Livingston to inquire why Craig’s kids didn’t have books. Apparently, the teacher in one of her kids’ math classes had the books, but hadn’t handed out. The book missing in the other kid’s class was on order and would be in the class within the next two weeks. Gatsas didn’t understand why Craig hadn’t made the inquiry herself, then said making such inquiries are what leaders do and returned to his theme about this election being all about trust.
There was OOOHHH sooo much more, be sure to stay tuned in this morning.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
Manchester teacher Lucy Canotas is the National Education Association’s New Hampshire two thousand fifteen Teaching Excellence Award winner. Canotas teaches fifth grade at Bakersville Elementary School, which received a six hundred fifty dollar check for her good work. According to a press release sent by the Manchester School District announcing the award, quote “The school will allow Canotas to determine how to spend the cash award to support Bakersville.” How nice.
Every year, the N E A invites its state affiliates to nominate educators for the award, which recognizes teachers who create learning environments that meet the needs of students across all abilities, cultures and backgrounds. Award recipients also must demonstrate a commitment to professional development and continually work to gain new knowledge that can be shared with their colleagues.
“It’s important to have relationships with students and families,” Canotas said. “When you understand your students better and make them feel comfortable and safe in school, they are better learners.”
The award comes on the heels of Parker Varney teacher Ashley Preston being recognized as the state’s Teacher of the Year, Parker Varney being named as the state’s school of the year and Memorial Principal Arthur Adamakos being named the state’s principal of the year.
The Merrimack Town Council will meet with Kinder Morgan tonight at seven in the Town Hall Complex to discuss the latest proposed alternate pipeline route through the town. It will be televised live on local access Merrimack TV – Channel 20. For more details, including the latest alternate route map, please visit merrimack n h dot gov. Imagine that, a community using the Web to provide information in advance of a meeting so folks can check things out ahead of time and follow along from home. Who knew such things could be done?
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next!