Mayor Joyce Craig has carped about the “negativism” of challenger Victoria Sullivan in this race. My! What a difference a term makes! It was just two years ago, and two years before that, that Joyce Craig was the “negative” one tearing at the city in her attempts to oust incumbent Mayor Ted Gatsas.
Gatsas could do no right. Manchester was headed in the wrong direction. Crime was rising. The opioid epidemic was ruining the city. The schools were failing our kids. Mayor Gatsas was a bully who couldn’t work with people. Manchester was at a crossroads and needed new leadership.
Gatsas sang the praises of the city and rattling off his administrations many accomplishments. He emphasized all he was doing to address crime, schools, drugs, the economy and more. Despite his rather substantial and tangible accomplishments, Craig poo-pooed them, accused Gatsas of reacting to events without a plan and taking credit for accomplishments that belonged to others. In areas where she couldn’t do that, she’d say “Any mayor would do that. It’s part of the job.” She ceded no ground to anything positive Ted Gatsas had done and she didn’t mind painting a picture of a city on fire to get elected.
Now comes Victoria Sullivan to challenge incumbent Mayor Joyce Craig. Sullivan hasn’t gone nearly as far against Craig as Craig went against Gatsas.
- She rightly points to Craig’s 20 plus months of inaction as the Great Vagrant Invasion of Manchester unfolded.
- She caught Craig both praising improvements to the Safe Station initiative she, to this day, refuses to credit Gatsas with starting, and complaining that it’s become a magnet that draws too many people to the city. She then blamed Governor Chris Sununu for the problem.
- She pointed out that student test scores have fallen during Craig’s term.
- She questioned how Craig could take credit for the redistricting plan adopted by the school board given that Craig voted AGAINST the plan and gathered the votes to delay implementing key parts of it.
She questioned why, if crime is “down,” is Craig boasting about adding more police and wondering what they’ll do in light of her administration’s “hands off” enforcement of the multiple ordinances violated by the invading vagrants.
- She asked where Craig was when the disasterous Catch and Release Bail Reform bill, which Sullivan was criticized for opposing as a state representative, was moving through the General Court.
- She asked where Craig was when Sullivan’s bill enabling the city to bill other NH communities for the cost of their residents use of Safe Stations was pending in the legislature.
She faulted Craig for vetoing Alderman Tim Baines’ proposal to give year round control over adjacent sidewalks in the downtown as a way to fight the Great Vagrant Invasion. Craig called Baines “irresponsible” for making the proposal, then later claimed the ordinance, which is in effect from April to October, was “year round.”
- She called Craig out for her interference in teacher union negotiations.
- She faulted Craig for supporting both Tax Cap overrides while mayor.
- She shared the stories of downtown visitors and businesses negatively impacted by the Vagrant Invasion, its homelessness and drug use.
This list could go on and on and on, but you get the point.
While Craig complains about Sullivan’s alleged negativism, she allows it to come from other corners unchecked, if not encouraged. Have you ever listened to the presentations made to the Board of School Committee by officials from the Manchester Education Association? Their are as damning about the city’s schools and the city itself as anything that’s ever been said in my nearly 30 years of involvement with the city. As if the crime, drug problem, Vagrant Invasion, homelessness, etc…isn’t enough to cause people to want to leave, just listen to Maxine Mosley, Sue Hannan and many more who have routinely brick-batted the schools in open public session, all in pursuit of “fair contracts” or “adequate funding.” They’ve doused the house with gasoline and set it on fire multiple times and still wonder why it has fewer and fewer buyers.
What, if anything, has Craig, who admits she meets regularly with this union, done to encourage them to take a different approach, one that’s positive and affirming of the schools and their efforts, instead of their scorched earth screeds? If she has, she’s been ignored.
Then there’s at-Large candidate for school board Jim O’Connell. As with the aforementioned union, his relentless rundown of the city and its schools is almost as bad. He doesn’t just go the school board, though. He brings it to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on occasion. At least he knows which board appropriates the money. But, to listen to him or any of the above, there’s no reason why any sane person would send their kids to the city’s schools. Has Craig ever said to him the PR black-eyes he’s given the district are counterproductive. If she has, it hasn’t worked.
So, one of the most negative campaigners in recent history is on the receiving end, except she’s only getting a fraction of what she’s given and she doesn’t think it’s “fair.” It’s just another example of the clear double standard Joyce Craig has for herself and others. If she does it, it’s fine. If someone else does it, it’s not. If it happened on her watch, she takes credit. If it happened on someone else’s, they had little or nothing to do with it, unless it was bad, then it was their fault. If it works in her favor, it’s fair game. If it doesn’t, it’s unfair. We expect politicians to accept the good and deflect the bad. That said, Joyce Craig has elevated that practice to an Olympic level sport.
Most people know that Emperor Nero fiddled while Rome burned. What they don’t know is that Nero ordered it to be set on fire. While Craig hasn’t ordered Manchester be set on fire, she and her cronies on both boards have certainly kept the fire trucks in their bays to avoid the appearance of political incorrectness in battling the Vagrant Invasion, declining schools, fleeing families, rising homelessness and violent crime and all that comes with it. That is fair game for Sullivan. If it’s negative, it’s because Craig has failed to effectively address the problems that have become crises on her watch.