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Two file to challenge Concord Mayor Jim Bouley; eight new candidates file for city council

There will be a three-way race for mayor in Concord this year.

John Cook, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2011, and Chris Booth, a former U.S. Senate candidate who has spoken against a controversial federal grant for Concord to purchase a BearCat, will challenge Mayor Jim Bouley in the Nov. 5 election.

Cook and Booth were among 10 new candidates to file yesterday. There are now six candidates running for two at-large seats on the council, and three voting wards will have three-way races. Also yesterday, Councilor Dick Patten announced he will not seek another term in Ward 8, where two new candidates filed to run for his seat. And three candidates in Ward 3 now include incumbents Jan McClure and Jennifer Kretovic, who now live in the same ward due to redistricting.

Cook, a retired state worker and landlord who lives on Union Street, earned about 15 percent of the vote against Bouley in 2011. Booth, who ran for the U.S. Senate as an independent in 2010, told the city council at a public hearing last month that he was “very concerned about the direction that the police force would take” if the council accepted a federal grant for an armored BearCat vehicle. The council accepted the $258,000 grant last week.

Bouley said he is proud of his work in his three terms to manage the city budget, improve customer service at city hall and revitalize downtown.

“I’m really proud of the record that I’ve been able to achieve over the past six years, and I look forward to sharing that with the citizens of Concord,” said Bouley, a 47-year-old East Concord resident who works as a lobbyist for the firm Dennehy & Bouley.

Neither Cook nor Booth could be reached last night.

At-large race fills up

Two new candidates filed to run yesterday for at-large seats on the city council.

Samantha Clattenburg of Wyman Street said she decided to run for an at-large position because she is “a little irritated on the heels of the BearCat situation.” The 40-year-old is a waitress at the Newell Post, and spoke against the BearCat at last month’s city council meeting.

“I’m hearing a lot of people that are disappointed, and so many of these positions are not being challenged year after year, term after term,” she said. “We can complain about it over coffee or we can do something.”

Clattenburg said she is also concerned about the reduction in parking spaces planned for the city’s Main Street redesign project, and would like to replace aging bridges in Concord like the Sewalls Falls Bridge over the Merrimack River.

Josh VanBuskirk also filed for an at-large council position yesterday. He lives next to Clattenburg on Wyman Street, according to the city clerk’s list of candidates, and could not be reached last night.

VanBuskirk and Clattenburg will run against for two at-large seats against four other candidates: Ward 4 Councilor Amanda Grady Sexton, Ward 10 Councilor Fred Keach, Timothy Willis of Thorndike Street and Scott Welch of Borough Road.

Welch, who could not be reached when he filed on Friday, said yesterday that he is running because he does not agree with the city’s current priorities. He is worried about burdening taxpayers with costs for the city’s Main Street renovation project and the council’s recent vote to acquire a BearCat. He said his first priority would be completing the replacement of the Sewalls Falls Bridge in East Concord.

“It’s really kind of a matter of getting people back on the city council that will listen to the concerns of the citizens and act accordingly,” Welth said.

Welch, 58, is retired and lives on Borough Road. He lost in a campaign for city council in the 1980s, and unsuccessfully challenged state Rep. Steve Shurtleff for his seat last year.

Patten steps aside

Citing his busy schedule and family health concerns, three-term Councilor Dick Patten decided not to run in Ward 8.

“It was a very hard, hard, hard decision,” Patten said yesterday. “It took a lot of thought because I didn’t want to let (my constituents) down, but like I said, I am confident that whomever gets elected will continue on and maybe they’ll have different ideas than I had.”

Two candidates – Dennis Soucy of Russell Street and Gail Matson of Garvins Falls Road – are seeking Patten’s seat.

Soucy, 62, said he would like the city to care for more streets, including his own unpaved road, and noted that he supported the city council’s vote to acquire a BearCat. He and Patten identified each other as close friends.

“And I figured, well, I’ll give it a run and see how things go,” Soucy said. “I don’t join cliques, I don’t join clubs, I do everything my own way.”

Matson could not be reached for comment last night. Patten said he spoke with both Matson and Soucy yesterday, and has not yet endorsed a candidate.

Patten is also a Democratic state representative, and said he will run for re-election to that position next year. He plans to keep busy spending time with his aging father and planning the Christmas parade, the Christmas tree lighting ceremony and the 100th anniversary celebration for the Concord Grange.

Last year, Patten was censured by the rest of the council for misusing his elected office by calling the police after a friend was issued a traffic ticket. He identified himself as a city councilor and asked the police why his friend had received a ticket rather than a warning. Earlier this year, he faced a stalking petition from a 20-year-old Concord man. The petition was temporarily granted, but was lifted after a court hearing.

Three in Ward 3

A three-way race in Ward 3 this fall includes two incumbents.

Ward 3 Councilor Jan McClure filed yesterday to run for a sixth term. Councilor Jennifer Kretovic, who was elected to represent Ward 2 in 2011 and now lives in Ward 3 due to redistricting, will run against McClure. A third candidate, Rick Cibotti of Via Tranquilla Drive, also filed in Ward 3 yesterday.

McClure said in a statement announcing her candidacy that she looks forward to another term.

“We have accomplished much as a council and I have worked hard to keep the tax rate down, promote economic development, protect important areas for conservation, improve Concord’s quality of life and make Concord a great city to live in,” McClure wrote.

McClure, 60, lives on District Five Road and works as a protection specialist for the Nature Conservancy in Concord. She said she doesn’t see any one issue as most important to the city.

“My perspective is one holistic view of all of those issues and that they all need to be considered when we talk about doing the best for Concord and doing the best for our residents and doing the best for the tax base,” McClure said.

Kretovic, who filed Sept. 6 to run in Ward 3, said yesterday that she was not surprised McClure filed to run again. But Kretovic said she wants to continue serving as a ward councilor and decided not to seek an at-large seat. Her son has two years of high school left, she said, and she felt an at-large position would require a greater time commitment.

“And I’m really enjoying my time on the council and hope that the voters will choose to allow me to stay at the table,” she said. “Unfortunately, that will mean that one of us won’t be returning to the table, and it’s heartbreaking.”

Kretovic, 49, lives on Gallen Drive and is business manager for Parker Education in Concord. She said she looks forward to the city’s Main Street redesign project, improvements to Loudon Road and the Route 3 reconstruction project. She also hopes to become more involved in working with the city’s recreation department, and would like to become a member of the city’s fiscal policy advisory committee to work closely with the budget.

Cibotti, who ran unsuccessfully for an at-large council seat in 2009, said he feels his construction experience could aid the city’s Main Street project. He owns Concord-based Tile & Stone Inc., and wants to make Concord a “destination place.”

“I think it’s time for a change in our ward because the status quo needs to be switched up a little bit,” Cibotti said.

More file in wards 4, 2

Ward 4 will also have a three-way race this fall. Byron Champlin of Rumford Street filed yesterday to run against Kevin Bloom of Wyman Street and at-large Councilor Michael DelloIacono.

Champlin, a 63-year-old program officer for Lincoln Financial Group in Concord, is a board member of the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce and chairman of its Creative Concord committee.

Champlin said he already closely follows city government, and would like to continue his involvement with the Main Street project as a city councilor. He said he also looks forward to finding a developer for the former Allied Leather Tannery site in Penacook.

“I also have concerns over ensuring that we’re very cautious about raising the city tax rate,” he said. “I think that as we see the city follow in the New England trends toward an aging population, the rising property tax rates become increasingly important to the senior and retired community.”

DelloIacono purchased a home on Church Street last month and decided to run in his ward after Grady Sexton filed to run for an at-large seat. Bloom filed to run last week, and said he opposed the city council’s vote to accept a nearly $260,000 grant for a BearCat.

In Ward 2, Allan Herschlag launched his fifth campaign for city council yesterday.

The 63-year-old retired city maintenance worker and Concord High School coach said the biggest issue facing Ward 2 is the replacement of the Sewalls Falls Bridge. He also wants to increase transparency in city government, and has concerns about the cost of the Main Street project and the potential impact it could have on downtown businesses.

“I want to be clear that I’m not against improving Main Street,” He said. “I’m just concerned about the direction that this particular project has taken.”

Herschlag has run four previous unsuccessful campaigns for city council. This year, he will run against Tim Bauman of Primrose Lane, who describes himself as fiscally conservative and decided to run after the council voted to acquire a BearCat.

Five councilors are now running unopposed: Ward 5 Councilor Rob Werner, Ward 6 Councilor Allen Bennett, Ward 7 Councilor Keith Nyhan, Ward 9 Councilor Candace Bouchard and at-large Councilor Dan St. Hilaire, who is running in Ward 10.

Yesterday was the final day to file for the election with a fee, but candidates can continue to file through Friday with a petition from 50 registered voters.

This article has been updated to correct the number of terms Dick Patten has served as a city councilor.

(Laura McCrystal can be reached at 369-3312 or
lmccrystal@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @lmccrystal.)

I really hope these people are not JUST running on this Bear Cat issue. It would be kind of silly since there are many more issues in the city so much more important. I don't have an option one way or other. I think its great there is so much activity.

Here's the people's chance, for a change. Instead of complaining, vote.

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