MANCHESTER — Before they draft their final pieces of campaign junk mail. Before they begin their last weekend of door knocking. Before that last campaign push, several candidate went before earnest Manchester high school students Wednesday.
The Manchester Youth Advisory Council candidate’s debate took place at City Hall, in a room that drew about 20 people — including media, the event organizers and the candidates themselves — on a night where the Boston Red Sox played game 6 of the World Series.
Turnout was less than half that of two years ago, said Marty Boldin, director of the Office of Youth Services.
“Part of it is the World Series. The other part is, we’re all extremely busy,” he said.
The first round — the aldermen at-large — actually preceded the first pitch. But it drew only two of the four candidates. Incumbent Dan O’Neill and challenger Will Infantine were no shows for the only scheduled debate in the campaign.
Incumbent Joe Kelly Levasseur and newcomer S. Daniel Mattingly were cordial to one another. They both spoke in favor of the city tax cap and both were critical of the Yager-Decker pay scale. Levasseur trumpeted his Manchester roots, business ownership and work as a lawyer.
Mattingly said he’s been a substitute teacher, “so I’m not afraid of youth. I’m with you guys.”
Conner Vest, a senior at Memorial High School, moderated the aldermen debate.
“I stepped out of my comfort zone tonight,” Vest said. Besides speaking in front of a crowd, he had to ready questions, listen to answers and keep the debate moving.The second debate involved incumbent Welfare Commissioner Paul Martineau and challenger Diane Guimond. The World Series began about halfway through their debate.
Martineau had to defend his lengthy application process, a court ruling that went against his office, and even his priorities.
“We shouldn’t be talking about how much we’re saving. The first thing is what we’re doing for the poor,” Guimond said. But Martineau said his office both saves money and takes care of the poor.
“We treat people with dignity,” he said, “we’re not rude and crude.”