A question of experience: Nyhan, Forey face off for councilor seat in ward 7

  • The Ward 7 wardhouse on West Street in Concord. GEOFF FORESTER

  • Keith Nyhan

  • Rod Forey

Monitor staff
Friday, November 03, 2017

The city council race in Ward 7 may come down to experience – and whether voters view that as a positive or a negative.

Keith Nyhan, a fourth generation South End resident, has served on the city council for 12 years. He says that his record is a major reason why he should be re-elected to the council.

But Rod Forey, Nyhan’s challenger, says voters should choose him because fresh blood is what’s needed on the city council.

“If this was a monarchy, (Keith) would be entitled to the position,” Forey said at a Monitor candidate’s forum. “That’s what happens with politicians – when they get in, they feel like they’re entitled to the position and they don’t listen to the voters.”

Forey, a military veteran who oversees operational security for the New England office of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, says the South End is a “gem of the city” – one that he feels is often overlooked politically.

“I’ve been going door to door in the South End and talking to people, and ironically enough, I’m a little surprised that the people’s priorities are a little different from the council,” he said. “Not too far off, but a little different.”

Forey said he’s heard from constituents too, and a top priority for him as city councilor, would be the Rundlett Middle School expansion project. Forey said residents are concerned about the potential cost for such a project, and how it may effect traffic patterns.

“It has to be done, we know that …,” Forey said of the middle school’s reconstruction. “We just need to make sure we do our do-diligence on it and check all these things out.”

Nyhan, who prides himself in being a champion for fiscal conservatism in Concord, said a major concern in the city is ongoing tax increases, which stem from the rising cost of services like police, fire and administrative support.

The best tool for combating residential tax increases, Nyhan said, is investment in economic development initiatives that will encourage young families and businesses to move to Concord. Ways to do this include eliminating impact fees and promoting the city’s assets, such as its diversity, parks and schools, to those seeking a new home.

Nyhan, who is an insurance regulator for the state, said he’s shown his ability to keep an eye on spending while spurring growth in Concord by supporting initiatives such as the Main Street revitalization project, neighborhood street paving and the development of Rollins Park.

“Many of the things that Mr. Forey has stated and believes in, I believe in. Really it’s the experience and delivering on those initiatives as compared to someone whose inexperienced,” he said.

Both Nyhan and Forey have said they would support some form of federal aid in the city to support refugees. They both agreed that the refugee population is an asset to Concord.

“When you bring diversity to our city, it makes our city stronger,” Forey said at the Monitor forum.

As for Concord’s chances of approving the gambling game keno at Tuesday’s election, both candidates agreed it could been a boon for the city. However, both agreed the decision should ultimately be made by voters.

(Leah Willingham can be reached at 369-3322, lwillingham@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @LeahMWillingham.)