Gatsas says he'll emphasize the 'positive things' even if Craig highlights 'the negatives'
MANCHESTER – Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas barely won re-election two years ago, narrowly edging out Joyce Craig by just 64 votes.
The four-term Republican mayor and his Democratic challenger are facing off again this year, and Gatsas tells NH1 News that “we’re going to make sure that people get out and vote.”
In an interview Wednesday soon after he announced his campaign for a fifth two-year term steering New Hampshire’s largest city, Gatsas was asked what he learned from his 2015 campaign that he would apply to his 2017 edition. The mayor highlighted get out the vote efforts.
Looking back at 2015, Gatsas explained that “a lot of people say ‘well Mayor, we knew you were going to win so we didn’t have to worry about going out to vote.’ That’s off the table now. We’re going to make sure that everybody gets out to vote because that’s the most important part of the election and I think we have to do that early on.”
Hours after Gatsas officially kicked off his campaign, Craig took aim. The former Ward 1 alderman who announced her candidacy in March wrote in a statement that “for eight years, Mayor Gatsas has let our city stumble from crisis to crisis. Drugs and violent crime continue to harm our city, millions of dollars of critical funding for schools has been mismanaged or lost, and city hall lacks a plan to grow an economy that works for all Manchester families.”
Asked by NH1 News to respond to Craig’s critique, Gatsas passed on any kind of counter-attack.
Instead, he said “I talk about positive things that happen in this city. If my opponent wants to talk about the negatives, let her talk about the negatives. People want to talk about the great things that are happening in the city of Manchester and a lot of great things have happened over the last eight years and I continue to talk about them.”
In his official announcement, the mayor recognized once again that “Manchester is on the front line” in the state’s heroin and opioid epidemic and he touted that “we have responded, we have led, and we will continue this fight against the epidemic in our community.”
And just as he did throughout his unsuccessful bid last year for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, Gatsas highlighted the nationally recognized Safe Station program, which opens the doors of Manchester firehouses to those addicted to illegal drugs, in hopes of preventing overdoses.
“I can tell you that 2,000 people have gone through Safe Station and if we’ve seen that many people, we’ve saved some lives. That’s what’s most important,” Gatsas told NH1 News.
The mayor pledged to continue supporting the Safe Station program and said he’ll address the need for safe housing for those recovering from substance misuse.
“What we need right now is housing. That’s what people are telling us,” Gatsas explained
The mayor also vowed to improve “educational opportunities for our students” and said that a top priority would be “to meaningfully redistrict city schools to address the need for additional capacity in the elementary schools to lower class sizes.”
Asked about the current plan from the city’s school board, Gatsas said “that’s tinkering around the edges. Let’s do redistricting once and for all so we can reduce class sizes in the elementary schools. It’s got to be done, no question. And we shouldn’t be afraid to do it.”
Gatsas: ‘Washington we can’t fix. But we can fix what’s here in Manchester’
The 66 year old Manchester native served from 2000 to 2010 as Ward 2 alderman. And from 2000 to 2009 he concurrently served as a state senator representing District 16. He briefly served as state Senate president from 2005 to 2006. He and his wife Cassandra have been married for more than 30 years.
While Manchester mayoral elections are non-partisan and mostly concentrated on city issues, with Donald Trump in the White House, the unpredictable climate in the nation’s capital could influence this November’s election.
Asked if he was concerned about any possible negative impact on his campaign due to the controversies surrounding President Trump, Gatsas said “I’ve lived here all my life. People know who Ted Gatsas is. And I’m going to run on the positive things that we’ve done in this city. And that’s what’s most important.”
“Washington we can’t fix. But we can fix what’s here in Manchester,” he added.