Manchester Mayor Gatsas holds off challenger Patrick Arnold
MANCHESTER — Tuesday night was a good one for incumbents in the Queen City, particularly for Mayor Ted Gatsas, who won a third term despite a spirited challenge from Alderman Patrick Arnold.
Gatsas beat Arnold 53 percent to 47 percent, winning 8,104 votes to Arnold's 7,163, according to unofficial results. This was the first mayoral election in which Gatsas did not sweep all 12 wards; Arnold picked off two, Wards 4 and 5.
Other incumbents also fared well in an election that saw record low turnout. Only 25 percent of the city's 61,100 registered voters cast ballots, a lower rate than in the last city election.
The incumbent at-large aldermen, Dan O'Neil and Joe Kelly Levasseur, both hung onto their seats, winning 8,353 votes and 6,810 respectively. The next runner-up, Will Infantine, won 5,090 votes.
Welfare Commissioner Paul Martineau, who has held the office since 2001, won another term, beating Diane Guimond 7,581 to 6,070.
The one notable upset was in Ward 10. Incumbent Phil Greazzo was defeated by Bill Barry, 677 to 771, in what may have been the hardest-fought race in the city. The closest race appears to have been in Ward 12, where Keith Hirschmann beat Roger Beauchamp, the current school board representative, by 36 votes to win the alderman's seat.
Voters also overwhelmingly rejected the proposed charter amendment, 8,206 to 5,811. The proposals would have, among other things, raised the mayor's pay to $100,000 and eliminated the health benefits for the aldermen and school board members.
At the Derryfield Country Club, where Gatsas held his victory party Tuesday night, the mayor thanked his supporters and volunteers.
He said he felt voters still sent a strong message of support, even if his margin of victory was the lowest since he was first elected in 2009.
"A win is a win is a win," he said in an interview.
He said his first priority would be the same one he expressed repeatedly during the campaign. "It's about children being able to read by the third-grade level," he said.
As for future political ambitions (Gatsas' name has repeatedly come up as a possible candidate for governor in 2014), the mayor said he was focused on the task at hand.
"Tonight is for celebrating victory as the elected mayor of the city of Manchester," he said. "I'll let my great folks who were out there working savor it. And I'm thinking about getting some sleep tonight and going to work tomorrow morning."
Arnold, who is 30 years old and whose political resume consisted largely of the two terms he's served as Ward 12 alderman, sounded a positive theme at his campaign's party at the Pint Tavern.
"We could not be more proud," he said. "Everyone that participated in this campaign played a tremendous role ... Campaigns are about issues. We based our campaign based on the concerns of the people of this city."
Greazzo, the Ward 10 alderman who is the staunchest fiscal conservative on the board, said he wasn't disappointed by the outcome, and he insisted he would remain a voice in city politics.
"I'm sure now I won't have to bite my tongue. I can speak my opinion a little more freely. I'm sure I won't be quiet when there are things that bother me," he said.
Barry, a former police officer who enjoyed strong union support, said, "I ran a positive campaign. I stuck to it, and I'm just so happy with the support I have from my family and friends in Ward 10."
The leaders of the state Republican and Democratic parties chimed in on the results of the Manchester mayor's race.
"I want to congratulate Mayor Ted Gatsas on his successful re-election campaign," New Hampshire Republican State Committee Chairman Jennifer Horn said in a statement. "Ted ran a strong race that focused on fiscal responsibility, his record of sound management and his bold vision for the Queen City."
New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley said in a statement: "Our entire city has been improved as a direct result of Patrick Arnold's work as an alderman and for the debate he brought to door steps and living rooms across Manchester."