Concord incumbents sweep city elections

  • Fred Keach Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Mayor Jim Bouley talks about the results of Tuesday's voting and his reelection from City Hall in Concord on Nov. 7, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Michelle Clark of Penacook talks about election issues outside the ward 1 polling place at Immaculate Conception Church in Penacook on Nov. 7, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • "I voted" stickers are seen on a table at the ward 3 polling place at Beaver Meadow Golf Course Club House in Concord on Nov. 7, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Rob Werner Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Shawn Riley. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Rod Forey (left) and Keith Nyhan at Ward 7. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Ward 10 candidate Elvir Zulkic (right) with his wife, Angelina Zulkic. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Candidates and supporters hold signs outside Green Street Community Center in Concord on Election Day, Nov. 7, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Dan St. Hilaire, John Cassidy and Zach Lobdell hold signs outside the ward 10 polling place at Broken Ground School in Concord on Election Day, Nov. 7, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Concord City Clerk Janice Bonenfant share preliminary election results with candidates and members of the media at City Hall in Concord on Nov. 7, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • City council incumbent Byron Champlin stands outside the ward 4 polling place at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Concord in Concord on Nov. 7, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 11/7/2017 3:55:38 PM

Incumbents carried the day in Concord, with seven contested races resulting in five councilors returning to their seats and Jim Bouley winning his sixth term as mayor.

Bouley, who has served 10 years as mayor and 10 years before that as Ward 10’s city councilor, won overwhelmingly against two challengers with 80 percent of the vote. Bouley finished with 3,629 votes to beat Roy Schweiker, with 516, and Linda Rae Banfill, with 383, according to unofficial tallies from the city.

Speaking at City Hall on Tuesday night, Bouley said he was “ecstatic” with the results, but felt the city had a lot of work to do going forward. He said his first priority was to continue what he saw as the council’s strong fiscal management and improving city resources.

“Interestingly enough, there was a lot of positive feedback on the direction of the city,” Bouley said of what residents spoke to him about at the polls. He said people are pleased with the downtown revitalization and said Concord has “turned a corner.”

While Bouley has never backed down from his assertions that the city made the right move by investing in its downtown – a large part of his campaign was defending the project from opponent Roy Schweiker, who has said the city spends disproportionately on downtown projects – he was still relieved by the results.

“You hope people feel the same way you do, but whenever your name’s on the ballot, it’s an uneasy feeling,” he said.

Voter Michelle Clark, who has lived in the city for 20 years and Ward 1 for 10, said she felt the city was going in the right direction, but would like to see more attention paid to Penacook. She said that while the plan to redevelop the former tannery site was a good start, she hoped a grocery store would be in the works.

“When people are moving into Penacook, they’re looking at the schools, but also what services are available,” she said.

Across the ballot, incumbents took the city by storm, according to results released by the city clerk’s office.

Amanda Grady Sexton and Fred Keach trounced George Jack in the at-large city council race. Grady Sexton took 3,238 votes, while Keach won the second seat with 2,470 votes, leaving Jack with a distant third-place finish of 615 votes. This will be the second at-large term both candidates will serve; Grady Sexton has eight years of experience under her belt, while Keach has 10.

Both candidates see public safety as a major issue in the city and have said they’ll be watching the Rundlett Middle School discussions closely.

They were divided, however, on the viability of keno, which did not pass in Concord. Grady Sexton said she was certain the measure would not pass, while Keach has said it would.

Rob Werner defended his Ward 5 seat from Shawn Riley, taking 476 votes to Riley’s 209. This will be his sixth term.

Werner has served on the council for 10 years, the last seven of which have been unopposed. He said continuing to expand the tax base is the biggest issue facing the city, along with environmental sustainability. He came out strongly against keno in the city.

Incumbent Keith Nyhan took 460 votes to Rod Forey’s 279 votes, meaning he will return for a seventh term as Ward 7 councilor.

Nyhan prides himself in being a champion for fiscal conservatism, and he has said a major concern in the city is ongoing tax increases, which stem from rising costs for services like police, fire and administrative support. He has proposed attracting new businesses and families to the city by eliminating impact fees and promoting the city’s assets.

Ward 8 Councilor Gail Matson took more than double the votes that her opponent Dennis Soucy did, beating him about 247-112. This will be her second term.

Matson has said Northern Pass is the biggest concern facing her ward, asserting that if the company decides to go forward with the project as proposed, it would impact her constituents “in a negative way.”

Daniel St. Hilaire easily beat out Ward 10 opponents David Sky and Elvir Zulkic, taking 432 votes to Sky’s 195 and Zulkic’s 71.

Where his opponents would have meant new faces in Ward 10, St. Hilaire’s experience proved to be too much for the political newcomers. He has served on the council since 2006. He has said one of the biggest issues facing the city is adding more high-paying jobs, as well as the statewide problem of retaining young people.

Incumbent councilors have generally been supportive of the city’s direction in recent years, and can agree on some major issues facing the city, such as expanding the tax base. They all agreed that the renovation of Concord’s downtown has paved the way for a more vibrant city and is an important step in attracting more businesses and people.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)


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