Editorial: Wanted: candidates for Concord City Council, School Board
As if you didn’t have enough to worry about with school starting and college applications pending and grandkids needing a ride to soccer practice and your aunt in the old-folks home overdue for a visit, but please, add this to your long to-do list:
It might just be the time to run for public office.
No need to take on U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen – more ambitious people than you have apparently already calculated those odds. We’re talking today about the Concord City Council and the Concord School Board. The filing period to run for those local offices begins tomorrow, elections will be held Nov. 5, and we’d urge city residents to give both possibilities strong consideration.
This plea does not come from any particular dissatisfaction with the direction of either the council or the school board but rather from a desire for some good races. Democracy works best when voters have a choice. That’s when the issues of the day get aired and when local residents feel compelled to tune in to local affairs. Far too often in recent years, Concord City Council and School Board candidates have run unopposed for what are serious offices with considerable responsibilities. Good luck for them, but not so engaging for voters.
Consider what the next city council might have on its plate: Regrouping after a single, disappointing construction bid on the enormous Main Street redesign. Keeping downtown merchants (and customers) happy once that construction actually gets going. The future of the public library. The future of North Main Street, as much new economic activity has shifted south. The future of downtown Penacook, including the tannery site redevelopment. The continued integration of refugee families into the community. A short-term plan to deal with the city’s relatively large homeless population – and a long-term plan to shrink its ranks. The state’s construction of a new women’s prison behind North State Street.
And on the school board, members will no doubt wrestle with important issues like the impact of the new Common Core education standards, the future use of Rumford School and the continued integration of technology in K-12 classrooms. But consider, too, the unexpected issues that land in the board’s lap when members least expect it: a mother praying on the steps of the high school, an elementary teacher accused of smuggling drugs into the state prison, even the police department’s desire for an armored vehicle.
The filing period for the school board starts Friday at 8:30 a.m. and closes Sept. 16 at 5 p.m. There are three three-year seats up for election. One seat is in what’s now known as District A: Warts 1, 2, 3 and 4. One seat is in District B: Wards 5, 6 and 7. One seat is in District C: Wards 8, 9 and 10. To sign up to run, you must file a form with Clerk Roger Phillips, who can be reached at 104 Pleasant St., 225-2767 or firstname.lastname@example.org. A $5 filing fee is required.
The filing period for the city council is also Friday through Sept. 16. Mayor Jim Bouley is up for reelection but so far has no challenger. There will also be 10 ward councilor seats up for a vote as well as the at-large councilor positions now held by Dan St. Hilaire and Michael DelloIacono.
The filing fee to run for mayor or city council is $5. The filing fee to run for a ward official position is $1. Filings are accepted at the city clerk’s office between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and until 5 p.m. on the last day of filing.
City and school district affairs can only be strengthened by a vigorous election season debate. Now’s the time to jump in.