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Concord Elections: City Council


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Editor’s note: Candidates were asked to fill out a questionnaire for inclusion in the Oct. 22 Sunday Monitor. Candidates were asked to answer questions 1-3 with short remarks no longer than a sentence in length. They were asked to keep answers to questions 4 and 5 to fewer than 100 words each. Submissions were edited for print publication, but are published in full at concordmonitor.com.  Their answers are below.

WARD 10David Sky


Are you happy with the city’s return on investment for the amount it taxes residents?

One of the city’s greatest challenges is the disparate return on investment, in terms of property taxes, across residents.

Should Concord give the public information or hold a public hearing before approving labor contracts?

I value both transparency and processes that provide for public input.

Given Concord is the only municipality in New Hampshire with an autonomous school board, do you think the city council or mayor should have veto power over school district spending?

I do not support the City Council or the Mayor having veto power over school spending.

What’s the biggest issue facing the city?

With the City’s primary funding source being property taxes, Concord’s greatest challenge involves making sound, sustainable growth decisions that don’t undermine our livability values. Over the next several years, Concord will be making a number of development decisions involving the Heights, the Downtown Storrs Street Extension, and the I-93 Expansion. The Council must be careful to make decisions that go beyond maximizing revenue in the short term to preserve and enhance the quality of life we’ve come to value.

Why should voters choose you on election day?

I’ve been inspired to run through my participation in Bernie Sander’s campaign for President. While this may be my first run for public office, I’ve been civically engaged for many years. I advocate for Complete Streets, streets that serve all users including pedestrians, through my participation in a City advisory group and the Central NH Bicycling Coalition. I volunteer at the cold winter shelter, the Friendly Kitchen, Family Promise and CASA. While I value the many years of service Dan St. Hilaire has provided, I know that he and I have fundamental disagreements on many important issues. I provide voters with an experienced alternative.

Dan St. Hilaire


Address: 43 Hampton St. 

Age: 50

Occupation: Chief Operating Officer, NH Liquor Commission

Family: Wife - Kim Beatty, 4th Grade Teacher at Loudon Elementary School; Son - Matt St. Hilaire - Graduate of CHS and UNH - Currently on Active Duty with the US Marines; Son - Connor Beatty - Graduate of CHS - Currently playing hockey in the Central Canadian Hockey League with the Rockland Nationals.

Public office held: Concord City Council 2006 to present (Mayor Pro Tem 2008 to present); Executive Council 2011 - 2013; Merrimack County Attorney 2003 - 2009

Are you happy with the city’s return on investment for the amount it taxes residents?

The City has done a tremendous job in the last few years to pave neglected roadways and revitalize the downtown area but still more can be done to increase the tax base and attract high paying jobs to the city.

Should Concord give the public information or hold a public hearing before approving labor contracts?

Currently personnel issues are protected from disclosure to the public under state law but each contract is approved by the Council at a public meeting.

Given Concord is the only municipality in New Hampshire with an autonomous school board, do you think the city council or mayor should have veto power over school district spending?

No, because Councilors do not participate in the school budget preparation or public hearings but members of each body meet periodically to discuss large capital projects in an effort to avoid large jumps in the total tax rate by spreading projects out depending on priority.

What’s the biggest issue facing the city?

Retention of young people in an aging state should be one of our top priorities. To address this, the City has invested in the downtown to create a destination that is alive and thrives. The recent sale of the Employment Security Building and other renovations on Main Street will create great market rate housing choices for single professionals and families. This in turn will boost the local economy and encourage other businesses to consider Concord as a premier place to have their employees live, work and play in a great livable community.

Why should voters choose you on election day?

If residents like what Concord has done to improve Main Street, attract new businesses on the Heights, pave major arteries such as Loudon Road and Fisherville Road, create traffic improvements near White Park and Exit 16, nearly eliminate the odor issues at the water treatment plant, protect open space and plan for new recreation opportunities along the Merrimack River and White Park - all while maintaining a city tax rate that is reasonable and in many cases less than other surrounding communities that offer far less service, then I ask for your vote.

Elvir Zulkic


Address: 82 Hoit Road

Age: 27

Occupation: Laboratory Supervisor

Family: Wife and a dog

Public office held: None

Website: www.facebook.com/ezulkic

Are you happy with the city’s return on investment for the amount it taxes residents?

No, the return on investment is minimal for the amount people are taxed in Concord.

Should Concord give the public information or hold a public hearing before approving labor contracts?

Yes, the taxpayers should be informed before any labor contract is approved.

Given Concord is the only municipality in New Hampshire with an autonomous school board, do you think the city council or mayor should have veto power over school district spending?

There should be transparency on what the school board is spending taxpayers’ money on and the taxpayers should have more say on what the money is being spent on.

What’s the biggest issue facing the city?

I believe the biggest issue facing Concord is our ability to attract people to live in Concord. One of the major reasons for this is the high taxes that we have in Concord. We need to decrease the tax rate by expanding the tax base if we want to create a prosperous city moving forward.

Why should voters choose you on election day?

Most of the current councilors have been in place for too long; it is time for a new face and new perspective. A lot of the major issues that we have in Concord still exist. If we continue to have the same group of people looking at the same issues year after year and nothing is being resolved, my opinion is that it is time for a change in leadership.

WARD 5Shawn Riley


Address: 9 Chestnut Pasture Road

Age: 48

Occupation: Laconia Deputy Fire Chief

Family: I live with my 2 children Shane 16 (Concord High School) and Samantha 11 ( Rundlett Middle School)

Public offices held: I have never held public office but did loose the city council race in 2015.

Are you happy with the city’s return on investment for the amount it taxes residents?

Yes I am. More importantly when considering spending money we should always ask “is this a necessary expenditure” if it is we should look to invest properly. Often we opt for the low bid items / low cost solutions to save money in the short term whereas doing the project correctly in the front end often adds value and costs less in the long run.

Should Concord give the public information or hold a public hearing before approving labor contracts?

Yes, municipal government should be as transparent as possible so long as we are following RSA 91A

Given Concord is the only municipality in New Hampshire with an autonomous school board, do you think the city council or mayor should have veto power over school district spending?

Yes, The city council needs to have over site on taxpayer money. We need to be good and effect stewards for other peoples money.

What’s the biggest issue facing the city?

The opiate epidemic. In my current role as the Laconia Fire Department deputy chief I see the effects up close and often. This may not be as visible to everyone but the ripple effects are cause many hidden problems in our community such as increased crime rate and decreased safety. To combat this issue we must think like an economist... we have to work on both supply and demand. The folks struggling with addiction need help and the criminals guilty of attempting to profit off this need to be dealt with harshly by law enforcement and the court system.

Why should voters choose you on election day?

Ward 5 voters should vote for me on election day because I love this city. I want to participate in the how it is run and make good logical decisions regarding our future. I am a 20 year Concord resident and landlord. I went to school at NHTI. My children and my parents live here. We hike the many trails in the city. I want to ensure this city remains our happy home.

Rob Werner


Address: 82 Hooksett Turnpike

Age: 58

Occupation: New Hampshire State Director, League of Conservation Voters

Family: Spouse, Mary Ann and Kiwi the Maine Coon Cat

Public office held: Concord City Councilor, Ward 5

Are you happy with the city’s return on investment for the amount it taxes residents?

Yes, the value that taxpayers receive in city services and in the very high quality performance of the city’s professional staff is a positive return on investment.

Should Concord give the public information or hold a public hearing before approving labor contracts?

No, maintaining the negotiating position of the council and city staff is best served by the current practice of labor contract discussions in non-public session.

Given Concord is the only municipality in New Hampshire with an autonomous school board, do you think the city council or mayor should have veto power over school district spending?

No, the city council should maintain its current policy responsibilities and not seek to expand them.

What’s the biggest issue facing the city?

Continuing to expand our tax base with smart growth so that investments in the city’s operations and infrastructure can continue to be made and maintained at a high level while creating economic opportunity. Economic development with energy and environmental sustainability considerations at the forefront will position the city well for the future.

Why should voters choose you on election day?

My service on the Concord City Council has been characterized by an ability to listen to and consider divergent views on issues while maintaining my own principles and representing the interests of Ward Five residents. As Chair of the Concord Energy and Environment Committee, I ask for the vote of Ward Five residents to enable me to continue the important work in collaborating with our community to build a sustainable future for the city.

WARD 7Rod Forey


Address: 42 Norwich Street Concord NH 03301

Age: 55

Occupation: US Government employee; (Military Veteran)

Family: Married two children

Public office held: None

Are you happy with the city’s return on investment for the amount it taxes residents?

Yes. I believe Concord City residents do get a good return on investment for the amount they pay in taxes. However, I am concerned with the gradual increases in property taxes and how it effects families.

Should Concord give the public information or hold a public hearing before approving labor contracts?

I’m in favor of appropriate transparency in government, but I think our current system of contract negotiations is sound and works well for both the City and its valuable employees.

Given Concord is the only municipality in New Hampshire with an autonomous school board, do you think the city council or mayor should have veto power over school district spending?

No. I think the current system works well and by adding another layer of bureaucracy it wouldn’t benefit taxpayers.

What’s the biggest issue facing the city?

The City faces many challenges in the next several years and to only select one as the “biggest issue” is difficult. Economic development in business and industry to expand our tax base is a critical component to answering Concord’s long-term financial needs. I’m impressed with the new and revitalized Main Street, but that is not the answer to our economic concerns. More specifically in Ward 7 the rebuild/rehab/relocation of the middle school is a huge issue for anyone living in the South End.

Why should voters choose you on election day?

The “South End” is the hidden gem to the City, too often forgotten when it comes to Council matters. I would represent a new voice and fresh set of eyes – an independent voice with no ties to special interests or cliques – a source of new ideas and perspectives, and, yes change where it’s needed in Council thinking especially when ward 7 issues are at stake.

Keith Nyhan


Address: 275 South Street

Age: 50

Occupation: Insurance Regulator, State Dept. of Insurance

Family: Married 25 years; 3 Children (Ages 17, 15 and 9)

Public office held: Ward 7 City Councilor (12 Years)

Are you happy with the city’s return on investment for the amount it taxes residents?

Yes. In addition to its long-term investments in municipal infrastructure (i.e., roads, sewers and water distribution systems), the city has sustained and improved both critical and leisure services, while imposing limited tax increases.

Should Concord give the public information or hold a public hearing before approving labor contracts?

It is not necessary for the public to validate negotiated contracts; councilors are elected to represent the interests of their constituents and the community.

Given Concord is the only municipality in New Hampshire with an autonomous school board, do you think the city council or mayor should have veto power over school district spending?

In recent years a municipal veto has not been necessary; this may not always be the case.

What’s the biggest issue facing the city?

The rising cost of service delivery (Police, Fire, General Services, Administrative Support, etc.), which translates into annual tax increases, is (and always will be) the city’s biggest issue. While constant vigilance and management of expenses is imperative, the best tool for combating residential tax increases is growing the business tax base. To this end, the city must continue to invest in economic development initiatives, such as eliminating unnecessary impact fees, providing incentives that will make Concord a more profitable community to conduct business operations (i.e., solar credits), and aggressively promoting the city’s assets (economy, diversity, parks and schools) to businesses seeking a new home.

Why should voters choose you on election-day?

As a fiscal conservative and the Chair of the City’s Fiscal Policy Advisory Committee, I take great pride in the Council’s actions that have produced nine consecutive balanced-budgets, while maintaining its commitment to public safety and improving municipal infrastructure. I am a fourth generation resident of Concord’s South End who understands the city’s history and the importance that neighborhood communities play in the lives of its residents. I have had the privilege of representing the residents of Ward 7 for twelve years. My experience on the Council, my commitment to fiscal conservancy, and my generational roots make me the ideal choice to represent Ward 7 in the next biennium. 

WARD 8Gail Matson


Address: 7 Garvins Falls Road

Age:55

Occupation: Insurance Examiner for State of NH Insurance Department; I worked for a major insurance company for over 16 years before transitioning to the state of NH Insurance Department. I have been an employee of the Insurance Department for nearly 17 years.

Family: Single working parent of two children in college, and a black Lab

Public Office: Ward 8 City Councilor seeking re-election.

Are you happy with the city’s return on investment for the amount it taxes residents?

The total city tax is a combination of the School District, the City and County tax rates. Overall yes, the city tax is a good rate of return- Concord has higher burden than other cities due to the percentage of tax exempt properties, and significant effort is made to keep costs of infrastructure and services (i.e. trash collection) as low as possible while maintaining the level of services residents need and require. While I appreciate the concerns relative to the tax rate, City Council is making incremental increases to the tax base.

Should Concord give the public information or hold a public hearing before approving labor contracts?

No. Due to the delicacy and complexity of negotiations and statutes that apply with respect to collective bargaining required to reach an approved labor contract, it could undermine or jeopardize the process.

Given Concord is the only municipality in New Hampshire with an autonomous school board, do you think the city council or mayor should have veto power over school district spending?

No. I would not change the current structure unless the residents tell the Council otherwise. Residents can address school board spending issues and provide input into the school budget process either at public hearings or via directly contacting school board members just as they do with the City Council.

What’s the biggest issue facing the city?

Resources with respect to Public Assistance and Safety. The opioid crisis is taxing our police and fire resources. There are multiple issues stemming from people in mental health crisis and drug addiction. There is no one thing that will correct the issue, rather we must work on multiple fronts such as drug court, treatment, and education to try to bring an end to the suffering and high costs both human and financial. The candidate pool for police is small- Concord is competing with State Police and other communities and there is difficulty in finding and recruiting qualified candidates. Adequate resources to help those needing mental health assistance or drug addiction are one of the biggest challenges.

Why should voters choose you on election day?

I have maintained a balanced budget and a continued excellent bond rating for the city. I responded to constituents concerns resulting in the refusal of Federal money to repave Loudon road, which entailed a three lane restriction unwanted by the majority of the citizens of Concord. My goal is to capitalize on Concord’s financial stability to continue to improve the infrastructure of the city, and provide the quality services required by our citizens. The revitalization of Main St has resulted in an increase of new businesses and attention from events coordinators interested in bringing new events to Concord. I intend to build on this momentum to further invigorate our city with a sustained influx of diverse new businesses and new jobs, which will ultimately increase the tax base and reduce the burden on individual tax payers. I serve as chair on the Northern Pass subcommittee. As a result of gathering information and listening to constitutents concerns regarding the permanent and negative impacts of Northern Pass on residents and the city as a whole; the council voted to request burial of the Northern Pass project throughout Concord based on the subcommittee’s recommendation. I have voted for and supported the following Capital Improvement Projects which are intended to attract people to our great city, and improve the quality of life of our current residents. Community center currently being built. Increased biking lanes throughout the city. Pool renovations, and park development.

Dennis Soucy


Address: 3 Russell St.

Age: 67

Occupation: retired

Family: Carol J.Soucy. 3 great grown kids. One grandson.

Public office held: no

Are you happy with the city’s return on investment for the amount it taxes residents?.

No, the city could do better with a lower tax on commercial business. This would attract more to Concord, and hire more people. Our 3 children do not live or work in Concord. They make more money elsewhere. Three NH governors have said that it is up to the state to “sell NH,” not the city or towns to waste there money. Many people must move and sell because they can’t afford the high taxes in Concord.

Should Concord give the public information or hold a public hearing before approving labor contracts?

Yes. It is the “right to know law.” All must vote, and people would feel better knowing their voice is heard and nothing is hiding from them.

Given Concord is the only municipality in New Hampshire with an autonomous school board, do you think the city council or mayor should have veto power over school district spending?

No. we should put it on the ballot for all to vote on. The school board and the city council both blame each other. This would solve many problems.

What’s the biggest issue facing the city? Economic development. We have a beautiful “Main Street”, but not all money should be spent there. It should be passed around evenly to all wards. A lot of young people are leaving Concord for housing and better jobs. We have a lot of commercial land in Ward 8 that could be sold so that we have more to offer the business world.

Why should voters choose you on election day?

I want Ward 8 to have a choice and a voice. I am a Catholic pro-life veteran. I will stand and salute my flag. My love for God, family and country goes very deep. I bare many scars, and I am a 2 year rare men’s breast cancer survivor. It was the biggest fight of my life. I am better now because of all your prayers. I have lived in Ward 8 for 35 years on Airport Road and Russell Street. I belong to IHM church. Many people know of me, and I am very easy to find. I love riding my Harley Trike and to go and meet people now that I am healthy. God bless America.