Concord election: Contested races a sign of a healthy democracy

Gerri and Ron King at Ward 5 in Concord on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.

Gerri and Ron King at Ward 5 in Concord on Tuesday, November 7, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Noemi Wierwille at Ward 5 at the Christa McAuliffe School in Concord on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.

Noemi Wierwille at Ward 5 at the Christa McAuliffe School in Concord on Tuesday, November 7, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Ali Sekou outside the Ward 8 polling place on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.

Ali Sekou outside the Ward 8 polling place on Tuesday, November 7, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Stacey Brown of Ward 5 at the Christa McAuliffe School in Concord on Tuesday. She held on to her city council seat with about a 100 vote lead.

Stacey Brown of Ward 5 at the Christa McAuliffe School in Concord on Tuesday. She held on to her city council seat with about a 100 vote lead. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Ali Sekou outside the Ward 8 polling place on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.

Ali Sekou outside the Ward 8 polling place on Tuesday, November 7, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Ali Sekou outside the Ward 8 polling place on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.

Ali Sekou outside the Ward 8 polling place on Tuesday, November 7, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

 Sundarshan Nepal, 44, of Ward 8, is an immigrant that has lived in Concord for the last eight years.

Sundarshan Nepal, 44, of Ward 8, is an immigrant that has lived in Concord for the last eight years. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Mayor Jim Bouley talks with mayoral candidate Byron Champlin at the Ward 5 polling place at Christa McAuliffe Elementary on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.

Mayor Jim Bouley talks with mayoral candidate Byron Champlin at the Ward 5 polling place at Christa McAuliffe Elementary on Tuesday, November 7, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Mayor Jim Bouley talks with mayoral candidate Byron Champlin at the Ward 5 polling place at Christa McAuliffe Elementary on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.

Mayor Jim Bouley talks with mayoral candidate Byron Champlin at the Ward 5 polling place at Christa McAuliffe Elementary on Tuesday, November 7, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Mayor Jim Bouley talks with candidate Byron Champlin outside the Ward 5 polling place at Christa McAuliffe Elementary. Champlin won a three-way race securing 74% of the city’s votes to the first new mayor in over a decade.

Mayor Jim Bouley talks with candidate Byron Champlin outside the Ward 5 polling place at Christa McAuliffe Elementary. Champlin won a three-way race securing 74% of the city’s votes to the first new mayor in over a decade. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Mayoral candidate Byron Champlin at the Ward 5 polling place at Christa McAuliffe Elementary on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.

Mayoral candidate Byron Champlin at the Ward 5 polling place at Christa McAuliffe Elementary on Tuesday, November 7, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Audrey Redmond with her son, Flynn, at Ward 5 on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.

Audrey Redmond with her son, Flynn, at Ward 5 on Tuesday, November 7, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Kelsey Broadway

Kelsey Broadway Geoff Forester—Monitor staff

Ray Machinnie at  the Ward 5 polling place at Christa McAuliffe Elementary on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.

Ray Machinnie at the Ward 5 polling place at Christa McAuliffe Elementary on Tuesday, November 7, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Jennifer Kennedy at the Ward 5 polling place at Christa McAuliffe Elementary on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.

Jennifer Kennedy at the Ward 5 polling place at Christa McAuliffe Elementary on Tuesday, November 7, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Angela Daley with her son, Andrew, at Ward 8 on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.

Angela Daley with her son, Andrew, at Ward 8 on Tuesday, November 7, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Steven and Journee LaFond at Ward 8 in Concord on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.

Steven and Journee LaFond at Ward 8 in Concord on Tuesday, November 7, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

John Sawyer at Ward 8 on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.

John Sawyer at Ward 8 on Tuesday, November 7, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Mayoral candidate Kate West at the Ward 7 polling place at Abbot-Downing Elementary school in Concord on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.

Mayoral candidate Kate West at the Ward 7 polling place at Abbot-Downing Elementary school in Concord on Tuesday, November 7, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Conor Fennessy (left), Liz Boucher and Ashley Babladelis have some fun outside the Ward 7 polling place at Abbot-Downing Elementary on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.

Conor Fennessy (left), Liz Boucher and Ashley Babladelis have some fun outside the Ward 7 polling place at Abbot-Downing Elementary on Tuesday, November 7, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Candidates Sarah Beauregard (left) and Karen McNamara hold signs outside the Ward 4 polling place at the Green Street gym on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.

Candidates Sarah Beauregard (left) and Karen McNamara hold signs outside the Ward 4 polling place at the Green Street gym on Tuesday, November 7, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Mayoral candidate Kate West at the Ward 7 polling place at Abbot-Downing Elementary school in Concord on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.

Mayoral candidate Kate West at the Ward 7 polling place at Abbot-Downing Elementary school in Concord on Tuesday, November 7, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

By JAMIE L. COSTA

Monitor staff

Published: 11-07-2023 2:05 PM

Modified: 11-07-2023 8:03 PM


The slew of contested races on Concord ballots was a welcome change for city voters.

“People are looking for a change,” said 41-year-old Rahkiya Medley. “It shows they are engaged and want to make a difference.”

Medley values a transparent government that applies rules fairly to all citizens. She wants elected leaders who are genuinely concerned about rising taxes and dedicated to creating affordable housing available to younger working families.

“I want to see them make decisions without being afraid to speak up in support of specific things,” Medley said. “I would also like to see an understanding that this city is changing, the demographics are changing, and we need representation that supports that.”

When Journee and Steven LaFond moved to the city three years ago, Concord felt like a sleepy city, they said. Now, it feels like it has more action.

“These contested races show that the city is more awake and that change is possible,” said Journee LaFond, 36.

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She said she’d like to see less separation between the Heights and the downtown areas of the city.

“I think millennials and Gen Z are realizing how integral their voices can be to local government,” Journee said. “We’re more aware of the polarization that exists in this potential sphere and it’s very impactful, especially right now.”

Calls for greater diversity and equity in city government were echoed by voters throughout the day Tuesday. Most agreed that homelessness, affordable housing, transportation, and economic development should be top priorities for the new faces of the city and the school district.

The number of contested races, voters said, shows that people in the city want to be involved and want to foster healthy change.

“It’s healthy that we have so many contested races because it shows that people are engaged,” said Robert Maccini, 72, of Ward 5. “There is strength in the diversity of opinions and we need younger people in office, both at the local, state and national levels.”

With competitive races for mayor, school board, two at-large seats on the city council, and eight out of 10 city ward seats, the potential for new blood in top election positions was evident on the ballots.

“This many candidates is a sign of more people being involved and many of the candidates share the same viewpoints,” said Gerri King, 81, of Ward 5. “I am pleased so many great people are running and it’s great to have to think about who I am voting for.”

King has been politically active for most of her life alongside her husband, Ron, 82, who sits on the city’s design review committee.

Kelsy Broadaway, who has lived in Concord for about a year, said it was hard to understand the differences between candidates’ actual platforms. Take the homelessness problem, for example, she said. Multiple candidates said they wanted to address it, but they lacked specific solutions.

“That can be anywhere from we want to kick the homeless people out of the town and be cruel, up to some really thoughtful approaches. Most people aren’t going to put details on their websites because they don’t want to be controversial.

Eric Feldbaun has lived in Concord for 12 years. He said people are tired of the same old people ho

“People are seeing it’s time for change, for new blood, for new vision,” he said. “Demographics are becoming younger and we need to focus on that population.”

Voters went to the polls in local elections Tuesday in other New Hampshire cities, including Nashua, Manchester, Laconia Dover, Claremont, Rochester, Somersworth and Berlin.