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Important decisions to be made around N.H. on election day 2017

  • Paul Steinhauser—



For the Monitor 
Monday, November 06, 2017

From a closely contested mayoral election in northern New England’s largest city, to greenlighting keno, to two special state House of Representatives contests, there’s plenty of action going on around the state on Election Day.

Keno is up for a vote in 11 of the Granite State’s 13 cities. Franklin held their municipal elections last month, and the electronic gambling game was overwhelmingly approved. The Portsmouth City Council rejected a measure that would have put keno on the November ballot in September 7-2. Earlier this year, the state Legislature passed a bill signed into law by Gov. Chris Sununu legalizing keno to help fund full-day kindergarten across New Hampshire.

Here’s a look at some of the other major contests across the state this Election Day.

Manchester

The Queen City’s mayoral race is a rematch from two years ago, when incumbent Republican Mayor Ted Gatsas defeated Democrat Joyce Craig by just 64 votes. Gatsas, a former alderman, state senator, and state Senate president, is running for a fifth two-year term. Craig, a former alderman and school board member, is trying to become Manchester’s first female mayor.

The officially nonpartisan election has attracted a lot of attention the past couple of months both inside and outside of the state. The outcome of the election will most likely come down to “get out the vote” efforts, and a bevy of Democrats flirting with White House runs in 2020 have parachuted into the contest to help Craig.

Former Missouri secretary of state Jason Kander campaigned with Craig on Monday. Two days earlier, Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, who this summer announced his candidacy for president in 2020, canvassed for Craig in the city’s Ward 12. A couple of hours later, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio headlined a Manchester Democrats pre-election dinner.

Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, a 2016 Democratic presidential candidate who is seriously considering another White House bid, came to Manchester to campaign with Craig a few weeks ago. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti visited in August to do the same thing.

And last Friday, former vice president Joe Biden put out a video supporting Craig. Biden, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988 and 2008 and came close to running again in 2016, is reportedly once again considering another presidential campaign.

With Donald Trump in the White House, few other Republicans are lining up to challenge the President in 2020, and Gatsas has not enjoyed the same level of attention as a result. But Sununu, New Hampshire’s popular Republican governor, campaigned with Gatsas recently and starred in a web video for the Gatsas re-election campaign.

Manchester is also holding elections for the board of aldermen and the school board.

There’s also a state House of Representatives special election in Hillsborough County District 15, which is Manchester’s Ward 8. Republican Albert MacArthur is facing off against Democrat Erika Connors to fill the seat of the late longtime state Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, who died in March.

The other House special election is in Sullivan County District 1, which includes Cornish, Grantham, Plainfield, and Springfield. Democrat Brian Sullivan is challenging Republican Margaret Drye. The seat became vacant in June after state Rep. Andy Schmidt resigned after moving to New London.

Nashua

The Gate City is holding contests for aldermen, board of education, and fire commissioner. And besides keno, another referendum question will ask voters to weigh in on a proposed performing arts center.

Nashua aldermen in September rejected the $15.5 million proposal, which calls for building a 600-seat theater and event center on Main Street, where Alec’s Shoes Store used to be, despite hours of public testimony supporting the idea. City voters will decide whether the city’s elected officials should reconsider their decision.

Keene

Three-term Mayor Kendall Lane is facing off against Robert Call, a 26-year-old software engineer who moved to the city a year and a half ago. Ten city council seats are up for grabs.

Portsmouth

With nine open seats on the city council, the candidate for councilor who gets the most votes will become the city’s mayor. Current mayor Jack Blalock is on the ballot. Seats on the school board, police and fire commission all have contested races.

Other cities

Mayor Karen Weston of Dover is being challenged by Derek Dextraze, a children’s book author.

In Rochester, Mayor Caroline McCarley is running for re-election. Also on the ballot are former Mayor Doug Lachance, state Rep. Matt Scruton and businessman Don Barnes.

In Berlin, Mayor Paul Grenier is gunning for a fifth term. For the second straight election, he’s running against businessman Richard Mattos Jr.

Somersworth Mayor Dana Hilliard is a shoo-in for a third term, being the only candidate on the ballot. It’s the same story in Claremont, with Mayor Charlene Lovett running for a second term, and in Laconia, where Mayor Edward Engler is running unopposed for a third term.