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City council candidates spend final hours on campaign trail

  • Ward 8 city council candidate Dennis Soucy and his wife Carol Soucy talk with Eileen Shattuck of Concord through her window on Sunday, November 3, 2013. Walking at a brisk pace, Soucy passed out 75 campaign flyers on Sunday before running out early in the afternoon.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    Ward 8 city council candidate Dennis Soucy and his wife Carol Soucy talk with Eileen Shattuck of Concord through her window on Sunday, November 3, 2013. Walking at a brisk pace, Soucy passed out 75 campaign flyers on Sunday before running out early in the afternoon.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • Ward 4 councilor Amanda Grady Sexton, who is running for at-large city councilor, chats with unopposed Ward 7 councilor Keith Nyhan as they walk along Conant Drive in Concord on Sunday, November 3, 2013. Nyhan went door-door with Grady Sexton to endorse her candidacy.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    Ward 4 councilor Amanda Grady Sexton, who is running for at-large city councilor, chats with unopposed Ward 7 councilor Keith Nyhan as they walk along Conant Drive in Concord on Sunday, November 3, 2013. Nyhan went door-door with Grady Sexton to endorse her candidacy.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • Ward 2 city council candidate Allan Herschlag waves to drivers on Fisherville Road in Concord on Sunday, November 3, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    Ward 2 city council candidate Allan Herschlag waves to drivers on Fisherville Road in Concord on Sunday, November 3, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • Ward 2 councilor Jennifer Kretovic, who is running for the Ward 3 seat, talks with Favy Lennon during a "Welcome to Ward 3" party at Kretovic's home in Concord on Sunday, November 3, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    Ward 2 councilor Jennifer Kretovic, who is running for the Ward 3 seat, talks with Favy Lennon during a "Welcome to Ward 3" party at Kretovic's home in Concord on Sunday, November 3, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • Ward 8 city council candidate Dennis Soucy and his wife Carol Soucy talk with Eileen Shattuck of Concord through her window on Sunday, November 3, 2013. Walking at a brisk pace, Soucy passed out 75 campaign flyers on Sunday before running out early in the afternoon.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • Ward 4 councilor Amanda Grady Sexton, who is running for at-large city councilor, chats with unopposed Ward 7 councilor Keith Nyhan as they walk along Conant Drive in Concord on Sunday, November 3, 2013. Nyhan went door-door with Grady Sexton to endorse her candidacy.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • Ward 2 city council candidate Allan Herschlag waves to drivers on Fisherville Road in Concord on Sunday, November 3, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • Ward 2 councilor Jennifer Kretovic, who is running for the Ward 3 seat, talks with Favy Lennon during a "Welcome to Ward 3" party at Kretovic's home in Concord on Sunday, November 3, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

Less than 48 hours before polls open in the Concord city election, candidates in the six contested races spent yesterday knocking on doors, holding signs and talking with residents.

Tomorrow, voters will choose a mayor, two at-large city councilors and a councilor for each of the city’s 10 wards. Yesterday was the last full day of campaigning for candidates in the six contested races.

The day started early for some; Ward 2 candidate Allan Herschlag arrived outside the Newell Post restaurant on Fisherville Road at 8:30 a.m. to stand next to his signs.

“It’s just face time,” he said, wearing a hat and gloves while holding a clipboard and a stack of yellow fliers.

Herschlag said he is “keeping his fingers crossed” between now and tomorrow night; he has run unsuccessfully for city council four times. This fall he is running for an open seat in Ward 2 against Tim Bauman. (Bauman said he would also be out campaigning over the weekend but could not be reached.)

On the Heights, Dennis Soucy also got an early start knocking on doors in Ward 8. Dressed in

a tie, the candidate walked briskly between homes on Dudley Drive and Chase Street, leaving printed copies of a Monitor article about him. For the few who answered the door, Soucy had a simple message: “I’m Dennis. I’m running for city council in Ward 8.”

As Soucy walked between houses, his wife, Carol, and a friend walked behind him. His wife held a campaign sign and waved to passing cars.

Gail Matson, one of Soucy’s opponents in Ward 8, said she spent a few hours delivering signs and knocking on doors yesterday afternoon. Dick Patten, the incumbent councilor, said he planned to make phone calls to a few supporters and to do some quiet campaign work, “because of all the years I’ve been in it . . . people know who I am and know who I stand for.”

In Ward 3, incumbent Jan McClure was knocking on doors by mid-morning.

“I’m Jan McClure, I’m your Ward 3 city councilor, and I’m running for re-election,” McClure introduced herself at each door, before asking whether the resident wanted to talk about any issues or concerns.

On Second Street, residents wanted to talk to McClure about the Sewalls Falls Bridge; residents at two different homes told her they find it unsafe and want it replaced. McClure assured them that the bridge has been a priority in her decade on the council, and the city is finally moving forward with building a new bridge.

“I’ve voted for you in the past,” one resident told McClure, adding that she would likely support her again, even though she feels badly that two incumbents are facing off in Ward 3 this year. McClure, a five-term incumbent, is running this year against Ward 2 Councilor Jennifer Kretovic, who now lives in Ward 3 due to redistricting.

A third Ward 3 candidate, Rick Cibotti, said he spent a few hours knocking on doors yesterday afternoon on Peterson Circle and Cider Mill Drive, where residents also wanted to talk about the Sewalls Falls Bridge.

Kretovic did not knock on doors yesterday, though she has spent the last several weekends and many weekday nights campaigning in Ward 3. She had not spent as much time campaigning in her own neighborhood, she said, so her neighbors joked “you should just have a party.” Kretovic did decide to host a “Welcome to Ward 3” party for her friends and neighbors during the Patriots game at her Gallen Drive home last night. She said she plans to spend today preparing last-minute signs. When she defeated Allan Herschlag by an 11-vote margin in Ward 2 in 2011, she said she thinks the signs her son left in their neighborhood as reminders to “vote for my mom” had an impact.

“That was the difference between winning and losing, was my sign,” she said.

In the South End yesterday afternoon, Ward 7 Councilor Keith Nyhan helped at-large candidate Amanda Grady Sexton knock on doors to meet voters. Grady Sexton is currently the Ward 4 councilor and is now running in a citywide race for a four-year term.

Nyhan, who grew up in the South End and is running unopposed, introduced Grady Sexton to his constituents and reminded them that the election is tomorrow.

“I’m encouraging people to vote for Amanda,” he told residents.

Many homes along Conant Drive were empty yesterday afternoon as Nyhan and Grady Sexton walked up the street. But Grady Sexton left fliers in their doors – and made certain to stop campaigning before the Patriots game began.

Timothy Willis, another at-large candidate, spent the day campaigning outside Market Basket, Walmart, Target and inside Steeplegate Mall. He wore a campaign sticker and carried information about where to vote, but he said most shoppers did not have time to stop and chat with him.

“There’s a lot of people (from) out of town shopping today – just my luck,” he said, as he stood at Target in the late afternoon with his young daughter at his side and a clipboard with a map of the voting wards.

At-large candidates Scott Welch and Fred Keach said they were not campaigning yesterday, and Samantha Clattenburg did not return a message about her campaign plans. A sixth candidate on the ballot, Josh VanBuskirk, has said he is not actively campaigning for a city council seat.

Byron Champlin traveled door-to-door in Ward 4 yesterday afternoon, armed with a list of registered voters. When residents answered their doors, he told them of his experience working with the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce and its Creative Concord committee. At two Union Street homes, residents also had questions for him.

One voter complained about the three-hour time limit for on-street parking on Union Street and said this prevented residents from parking in front of their own homes. He said he would like Champlin to suggest “resident-only” parking stickers for cars if he is elected.

Across the street, a young man said he moved to Concord from Portsmouth and said Concord is not living up to its potential to attract business downtown. Champlin told him he has already been working “on making Concord a more interesting and vibrant place” and would like to attract more small businesses.

Kevin Bloom and current at-large Councilor Michael DelloIacono, the other two candidates in Ward 4, did not return messages about their campaign plans.

Across the city in Penacook, Brent Todd and his wife, Althea Barton, walked up and down Millbrook Lane. One of them knocked on doors on each side of the street. Though this is Todd’s first run for city council, he reminded residents that Ward 1 had a 17-vote margin between Councilor Liz Blanchard and challenger Adam Czarkowski in 2011.

“It’s not a cliche when I say every vote counts,” Todd told one resident, after speaking about his experience working on city committees and organizations such as the Penacook Village Association.

One voter questioned Todd about his political affiliation and the recent federal government shutdown. He reminded the woman that Concord city elections are nonpartisan, but he described himself as “middle of the road.” After her questioning, the voter told Todd “you’ve got a vote.”

Czarkowski, one of Todd’s opponents in Ward 1 this fall, said he does not campaign on Sundays.

“I really will be going to church and spending some time with my family,” he said.

The two men and Cassandra Rasmussen are competing for an open seat representing Penacook. Rasmussen did not return a message about her weekend campaign plans.

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

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