NASHUA — In the midst of a public catfight between Mayor Donnalee Lozeau and the Nashua Police Department, a city election took place on Tuesday where residents had their own opinions about the brewing controversy.
The day after police records were released detailing accusations against Lozeau and her husband involving bid rigging, drug use and corruption, city residents had mixed reactions about the dispute that has made headlines for more than a week.
“It is a little disappointing because I don’t like to see the black mark on this city. I don’t like to see a scandal, but we do need to have transparency,” said Lori Gilcreast, who was visiting the Ward 1 polling site on Tuesday.
Gilcreast says she doesn’t know what to believe and is having difficulty understanding what is fact and what is fiction.
“But when you run for public office, everything about your past will come out,” said Gilcreast.
Kristy Donaghy, a supporter of Lozeau, says it is important to remember that a lot of the information being released is old news that highlights allegations made by one person without sufficient evidence or proof.
“It really makes the community look petty,” said Donaghy, who was visiting Ward 8 on Tuesday. “I mean, why are we hearing about this now? This is going to be painful for the community. We need to power through this and be done with it.”
Matthew Ekins, a high school sophomore, said the issue has been briefly discussed in his school’s government class in recent days.
“It is a controversial topic,” Ekins said. Still, he said the timing doesn’t seem relevant since the police investigation was opened years ago and no criminal charges were ever brought forward.
Others have a slightly different opinion, and are hoping there will be a full review of the police investigation and the mayor’s allegations of a smear campaign.
Annette Cameron of Nashua, who was campaigning outside of Ward 8 on Tuesday, said she is looking forward to learning more details about the controversy, which she says is a topic of discussion among many city residents.
“I am very dismayed and disheartened by this,” agreed her friend, Esther Ross, also of Nashua. “I think this needs to be fully investigated.”
Last week, the mayor accused the Nashua Police Department of a “smear campaign,” saying a police investigation involving her and her husband was politically motivated.
Since then, 100 pages of police reports have been released about the investigation, which initially closed in 2010 but resurfaced earlier this year. According to the police documents, a confidential informant provided information to a city detective on Jan. 4 that he had previously delivered marijuana to David Lozeau, the mayor’s husband.
Two months later in March, the informant — previously identified by David Lozeau as Tom Brennan, a family friend who he had previously sued over a truck dispute — made numerous other allegations against the Lozeaus.
Most of the allegations involved David Lozeau, a former bail commissioner who resigned earlier this year at the height of the new investigation. The informant accused David Lozeau of fixing low bail and personal recognizance bail in exchange for marijuana, although police did not have any evidence to charge the mayor’s husband.
The informant also accused the mayor of bid-rigging during her employment with Southern New Hampshire Services, along with accepting bribes when awarding construction contracts for the City of Nashua. He also made allegations that the mayor smokes marijuana and previously did cocaine — accusations that have not resulted in any criminal charges.
The mayor has declined to comment about the newest allegations but does plan to speak with the media in further detail on Friday. However, in a statement provided to the New Hampshire Union Leader, Mayor Lozeau said, “I supported and encouraged my husband to release the documents, and I am glad that is the decision he made.”
She stands by her previous comments made last week asserting her innocence. Her husband maintains that it is not a coincidence that the police investigation resurfaced earlier this year around the same time the mayor publicly criticized several city police unions for failing to negotiate new contracts that included health care concessions previously accepted by other city employees.
The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office was involved in the police department’s initial investigation into David Lozeau in 2009 but was asked by the Nashua Police Commission last week to review the city’s police investigation, along with the mayor’s newest claims that it is politically motivated. Both Police Chief John Seusing and Police Commissioner Thomas Pappas have denied that the investigation was part of a smear email@example.com