Former Manchester Mayor John Mongan remembered for service
By MARK HAYWARD
New Hampshire Union Leader | June 20. 2013 10:46PM
Mongan, who was 88, died at Villa Crest nursing home, where he shared a room with his wife, Mary Mongan, said Robert Baines, a Mongan protégé who served three terms as mayor in the 2000s. Baines was unsure of the cause of death and said Mongan had been at the nursing home for several years.
"He wasn't a favorite of the Union Leader," Baines said. "He was very progressive and challenged the status quo. He asserted the office of mayor in ways never seen before."
In a statement, Mayor Ted Gatsas said: "Today the Brown Avenue Industrial Park continues to thrive because of Mayor Mongan's steadfast dedication to the Queen City." Following tradition, black curtains will obscure the windows of Gatsas' office today in honor of Mongan.
"His mind was always somewhere else," Fortin said. Mongan would walk down the street and not say hello to acquaintances, who would then call the office and complain about the snub.
But Mongan returned four years later to defeat Roland Vallee. His campaign included the soft touch of his wife as well as hardball politics. The Mongans handed out roses to workers leaving the afternoon shift at the Mill-yard, and they sent formal invitations requesting the vote of the recipient.
Days before the election, the Union Leader ran a full-page Mongan advertisement that highlighted generous tax abatements Vallee had received on his Manchester properties. "Your taxes keep going up, up, up while Vallee's go down, down, down," the ad read.
Democratic aldermen were overwhelmingly hostile to Mongan, and he relied on Mary to handle the politics, Fortin said.
Mongan went on to work for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and was appointed regional administrator by President Reagan, Baines said. He campaigned for Congress, U.S. Senate and governor, but only won his two terms as mayor.
Mary Mongan went on to become New Hampshire commissioner of health and human services and president of the Hillcrest Terrace retirement community.