EDITOR’S NOTE: Candidates in each contested race in Tuesday’s city primary election were invited to answer a questionnaire from the Union Leader. Here are the responses from the candidates for alderman:
1. Why do you want to be (or continue to be) an alderman, and name your ward's two biggest challenges and how you would address them.
2. Name a power the mayor doesn't have that you think he should have and one the mayor has that he should give up.
3. Should the city have a tax cap?
ALDERMAN WARD 2
Occupation: City of Manchester, Parks, Recreation and Cemetery Director, retired
Relevant experience: 33 years of city service, knowledge of city government, 3 1/2 years as Ward 2 alderman
1) I find assisting the residents of Ward 2 with issues rewarding and like working with people. I'm a lifelong resident of this city and care deeply about how we maintain a quality of life that attracts families. I would think that traffic issues are one of the largest problems. Speed on major arteries threatens safety for everyone. The Manchester Police continues with attempts to deter speed, but it's a continual problem. Second may well be some property owners that allow their properties to become unsightly. This is no longer an inner city problem. It is spreading quickly to other parts of the city causing property values to decline in areas surrounding these distressed properties. We need laws to help strengthen the city's position when action becomes necessary.
2) I think the position of mayor is sufficiently powerful. While schools make up a large part of the budget and certainly the mayor needs to be aware of the dollars assigned to schools, I would question a mayor's direct involvement with the Board of School Committee.
3) The tax cap was voted in by the taxpayers. I believe discussions relative to its existence are counterproductive at this point. We need to move forward and do the best we can with it. The people will decide its fate when they determine whether the positive or negative effects are either hurting or helping the city.
Occupation: Semi-retired and working as an inspector for insurance underwriter report company part-time
Relevant experience: Former state representative; active in the ward as a moderator
1) I am running for alderman because I believe that there needs to be a voice at City Hall for Manchester taxpayers. The current board is out of touch with the average property owner. People on fixed income do care if their property taxes go up $200 a year. We need to get our value for every dollar spent. Yarger-Decker needs to be reviewed and brought back to the merit system it was intended to be. Good employees should be recognized for their performance. Contracts need to reflect benefits and wages on parity with the private sector.
2) The mayor should have the ability to remove department heads that do not perform without a major action from the board. Mayor should not be the chair of the school committee; the district should be a city department.
3) The tax cap was a decision made by Manchester voters, not by a few thousand people on a rainy Tuesday in November. It was not a mistake. The cap is a tool, but if there are necessities the board can override the cap. However the political will does not exist for the override; we only hear the complaints, blaming tax and spending cap for all of the woes of the city.
Occupation: First-class electrical line worker
Relevant experience: Political Science degree from the University of New Hampshire, two years in the State House as a State Representative.
1) I would like to be alderman to help make the city of Manchester a better place. I would bring strong fiscal conservative values to City Hall, which addresses the major issue I am finding among Ward 2 voters, property taxes and out of control spending. I would bring an ability to make the tough decisions to watch where the money is going, not just vote to hand it out. The other major issue is the concern on quality of life in the city. From crime to education, the voters are looking for an alderman to represent their needs and wants. I firmly believe an alderman works for the voter, not the other way around.
2) As a prospective alderman, I feel as though going in with preconceived notions of what the mayor should or should not be allowed to do is exactly what is wrong with government today. All elected officials should be willing to work with each other, listen to a free and open exchange of ideas and make decisions based on the best interests of the public. Mayoral powers are always able to be checked by the Board of Aldermen, whether it is to prevent an abuse of power, or to force action as needed. I am a true City Hall outsider who will take the will of the people of Ward 2 to City Hall and will work for them, both on the Mayor's side or opposite of it.
3) YES! Especially since the cap was enacted by a wide majority of voters, the will of the people is to control taxes, control spending and be responsible with the people's money.
ALDERMAN WARD 9
Occupation: retired teacher/administrator, alderman and state representative
Relevant experience: served on numerous occupational, educational, and civic boards and committees, vice chair of Hillsborough County Executive Board, chaired task force on homeless teens, clerk of House education committee, to name a few.
1) I thrive on the challenge of helping people with their questions and issues. Working hard for them and being able to serve them is exciting and rewarding. I want to continue that work for my people. We have traffic issues that still need to be resolved, vandalism that needs to be curbed, and continued safety for residents in and around their homes. I will continue to support quality eduction and affordable living.
2) The mayoral duties seem to be well established and working. My only change would be to remove the mayor from chairman of the School Board and replace with the Chairman of the Board.
3) Absolutely. It encourages creativity, looking outside the box and frugality. Making tough choices demands working cooperatively to develop and maintain a reasonable budget that works well for everyone.
Timothy R. Sawyer
Occupation: Industrial electrician
Relevant experience: Bachelor in business management, associate in political science; worked as consultant for small businesses.
1) The current alderman has not done her job. We have a HUGE crime problem and no police presence, major traffic issues with speeding along streets filled with children; graffiti all over; issues with Walmart; issues with flooding; meth clinics by kids' ball parks; the list goes on. We have major issues in Ward 9, not one or two. I want to be alderman because these issues continue to go unresolved and our present alderman has lost focus and priorities. It is a two-year term not a two-month term. The citizens of Ward 9 deserve someone who cares enough about them and the city to make sure they have the mind-set every day to do what is wanted and needed. This is my home and their home. I want to be able for us all to be proud to say we live in Ward 9.
2) I think the balance of power is fine as it sets. At times things may be done we do not agree with but unless one allows their voice to be heard how do we know what justifies the situation? Silence will always be a citizen's worst enemy.
3) As long as the voters keep the tax cap I will stand by it. We are not elected to rule the people, we are elected to follow their wishes and serve them. So many forget once in, it is a honor to serve. Our job is to make sure citizens are happy; their needs and wants must always come before our own personal.
Occupation: Retired painting contractor
Relevant experience: Owner, operator of a small business for 36 years; officer in the American Legion
1) To help the people of the ward at any time when having problems with city services. The two major issues in this ward are the future traffic problems that will be caused be Walmart.
2) Mayor should not have to be the head of school board meetings.
NOTE: Ward 9 candidate Victoria Sullivan did not return a survey.
ALDERMAN WARD 10
Occupation: Small business owner
Relevant experience: Ward 10 Alderman, vice chairman of the city finance committee, chairman of administration, served as a state representative on the criminal justice committee. As a business owner I am also experienced with budgets, employee management, and customer service.
1) I would like to continue working as alderman so I can keep helping all the people in my ward who need someone to fight for them at City Hall or on any issues they may be having. The biggest challenge in Ward 10 right now is the current surge in robberies. Earlier this year, I brought forward the need for more officers but it wasn't approved. Throughout my time as alderman I have consistently worked with our neighbors and the Manchester Police Department to deal with all crime in our ward and will continue to do so. There are several other challenges ranging from broken sidewalks to our broken education system. I will continue working to fix those and the many others if elected.
2) By charter, a Manchester mayor has very limited powers that only pertain to administrative functions, none of which can be taken away without reducing the office to a town manager. An additional power a Mayor should have is a veto with the school board, just as they have with the aldermen.
3) Yes, it's what the people voted for more than once. The biggest argument from those who don't support a tax/spending cap believe it limits what is spent on education and other areas. However, the cap is not responsible for this problem. We can easily save money in other areas and put it toward education, public safety and infrastructure. It's a matter of priorities and needs versus wants. Too much money is spent in this city on things we do not need and thus there is not enough money for the more important items. The cap brings focus to how much money the city takes from you, how much of your money it spends, and what it's spent on.
Occupation: Police officer
1) I am a candidate for alderman because I believe I can make a difference. As a lifelong resident of Manchester, I am very disappointed in the direction that our city is going. Burglaries in our city are on the rise. Our children are not receiving the quality education that they deserve. I can assure the voters of Ward 10 that I will have their best interest in mind every time that I cast my vote. I have been in law enforcement for over 28 years and I have seen the impact that burglary has on residents. As a police officer in Auburn, I was involved in setting up a successful neighborhood watch group. One of my ideas, of course, is implementing neighborhood watch groups and educating the residents of our city on how we can all work together to make our city a safer place to live. I will also discuss with the chief a plan to form a burglary task force.
2) The power of the mayor is acceptable. It is important that the aldermen continue to have a confirmation vote on the mayor's appointments.
3) I believe that the tax cap can be an effective tool to control spending, however, not at the expense of diminishing public safety, the quality of our school system and the maintenance of our city's infrastructure.
Occupation: Small business advisor; landscaper, interior design
Relevant Experience: State representative on resources and economic development committee; natural resources steward; volunteer coordinator in Manchester
1) I want to be on the aldermanic board to be a voice for our residents and to inform other board members and the general public relevant goings-on that may be compromising their rights. Land use issues and school reform is a priority. I want to be the alderman that does the right thing.
2) The mayor has too much power and he should give up his leading role in economic development.
3) No tax cap. Economists do not agree with this restrictive form of governance.
ALDERMAN WARD 11
Occupation: Retired district fire chief for the city of Manchester Fire Dept.
Relevant experience: Ward 11 alderman 1 year; Elderly Services Commission 6 years; Air National Guard 6 years; Air Force veteran; Alpine Club president 36 years; past president independent hockey league
1) As a lifelong resident of Ward 11, I am proud to represent this ward. I have dedicated my life to serving the public, first as a 33-year veteran of the Manchester Fire Department, and now as your alderman. The best part of my position is working with the people of this ward and helping them solve their problems. Our biggest challenge in this ward, and all of the West Side, is the increase of crime we have seen in recent years and a decrease in funding to public safety. As your alderman, I will continue to make your safety a priority by having properly funded, staffed, and equipped public safety departments.
2) My priority is public safety, and as alderman I strongly believe that no one person should have power when it comes to influencing code enforcements when they feel it benefits certain businesses. Code enforcements need to be left to the officials so that safety standards can be met properly. The Mayor should have the power to offer incentives to businesses who want to relocate to Manchester, in order to jump-start job creation and economic development. This city should continue to be a place where new businesses are welcomed.
3) The voters of the city of Manchester voted for a tax cap to be instituted. It is my duty as an elected official to do my best to maintain city services within the parameters of that cap. I believe that Manchester's tax cap has worked in the past, but I'm always open to new suggestions and proposals of what would make this city run even better. I will always keep an open mind when it comes to effectively and efficiently funding our city, particularly if a tax cap ever decreased the public safety of the citizens of this city.
Occupation: Sales Manager for Bisco Industries
Relevant experience: I have worked with many non –profits in New Hampshire, as well as served a year with AmeriCorps. I have worked in the private sector in sales for more than six years. I have also studied abroad at the University for Peace in Costa Rica studying leadership, sustainability and social justice.
1) I am running for alderman because I am concerned about the direction I see Manchester traveling in. I see the city's budget as being one of the biggest challenges the city faces. I plan on being the check and balance between what is wanted and what is needed for our ward and city. The other challenge I see in Ward 11 is the recent increase in break-ins across the city. I plan on working with the community policing division on how to peacefully create a better environment.
2) If I had to choose a power for the mayor to gain it would be the ability to pardon non-violent/victimless criminals. A power I feel the mayor should give up is the power to conduct private meetings/communications that involve the city. I feel it is important to have a transparent government in which the city is accountable to the people that fund it.
3) I believe the city should have a tax cap. The solution to the city's problems is not to squeeze money out of families that are already having a hard time getting by. I feel there is plenty of money in the budget and we need to focus on smarter spending and not thinking we have an unlimited budget by just raising taxes.
NOTE: Former Ward 11 candidate Mark E. Lareau is no longer running.
ALDERMAN WARD 12
Roger R. Beauchamp
Occupation: Social Worker
Relevant experience: Two-term school board member; formers state representative; skilled in large complex budget and labor issues, B.S. in public service management, Granite State College.
1) I am running due to my passion and love of this great city we all call home. I want to be our community voice in Ward 12. I have a proven outstanding record of constituent service. Raised on Manchester's West Side, I understand the needs of our ward some of which include the future redesign of the Amoskeag rotary, NH Jobs Corps, and the over development of Hackett Hill. I am fiscally conscious, socially strong and always listening and leading.
2) The powers charted to the mayor are sufficient. I believe the mayor should not be allowed to chair the school board. Chairing both, the aldermanic and school board I feel is a conflict of interest.
3) No, but, I would not vote to overturn the tax cap. The voters have spoken and I respect the voters' decision.
Keith D. Hirschmann
Occupation: Business owner SecurityNet Fire & Security, alarm service provider 1995 to present.
Relevant experience: Ward 12 alderman 1995-2002 (three terms), Traffic & Public Safety committee; Safety Review Board (two terms)
1) For me, the only way I know how to truly affect change in a positive way is to serve our community in a leadership position. A major concern in Ward 12 is that we keep building new homes, townhouses and college expansions, which is very good except for the fact that no sidewalks were added for these developments or even traffic light improvements at the community college on Front Street. This issue is now a public safety problem that has been created over the last decade. I will change this approach when on the board, making sure that through development impact fees and other sources that sidewalks will be built and traffic lights will be added. The second major problem in our community is the threat of crime. Even if Ward 12 seems somewhat safe we must be very vigilant by budgeting for additional officers in patrol and supporting the means needed to succeed.
2) Give the mayor a line item veto power to eliminate costly budget items such as health benefits for the aldermen. I would spend that money on another patrolman or a detective immediately. I am not a fan of a mayor being involved in dept. head pay raises. This should be done by a committee of aldermen.
3) Yes, the public passed the referendum to protect tax payers. The spending cap is needed and must be defended with vigilance.
Occupation: Entrepreneur, small business, semi-retired
Relevant experience: I'm a Manchester native, U.S. Navy veteran, graduate of New Hampshire College and have been the owner and manager of several small businesses. I have been an active member of the West Side Little League for the past 10 years and I am serving my first term as a Republican state representative.
1) I'm running for alderman to serve the best interests of the taxpayers of Ward 12. For me, it's about public service – not ego or ambition. My priorities will be keeping taxes and spending low, both to protect the taxpayer and encourage economic development. I'll work to keep raises for employees reasonable and to uphold the tax cap. I will also fight for additional police officers and police presence in the ward to address recent burglaries.
2) I'd like to see the mayor have the same influence and authority on the school board as he or she does on the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. The school board budget has a huge impact on property taxes and I'd like to see our mayor have veto power here. I also believe it's in the best interest of the city to have separate offices for mayor and economic development. I'm a big believer in Manchester and support having a full-time booster to promote business here.
3) I supported the tax cap and voted for its passage. I will always work to uphold and honor the tax cap and I believe it will have tremendous long-term value for the Queen City.