May 24, 2016 6:29 PM
NH1 News Political Director
LONDONDERRY – Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas says his city’s ‘Safe Station’ program is “saving lives.”
And in a one-on-one interview with NH1 News, the Republican candidate for governor pushed back at Gov. Maggie Hassan’s claim that he politicized the recent shooting of two Manchester police officers. And Gatsas said “there’s not a lot of substance” in the economic plan presented by state Sen. Jeanie Forrester, a rival for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.
‘Safe Station’ is program that opens the doors of firehouses in New Hampshire’s largest city to those addicted to illegal drugs, in hopes of preventing overdoses. Asked about the program, Gatsas raved “have you seen the statistics about ‘Safe Station’. The number of people that have come in. it’s incredible. This program’s saving lives.”
Asked if he would spread the program state wide if elected to the Corner Office, Gatsas said “I would hope that it would be looked at in communities throughout the state a lot sooner than November.”
Two Manchester police officers were shot and injured a week and a half ago. At the time of the shootings, Gov. Maggie Hassan was out of the state at the state, attending a fundraiser for her expensive Democratic challenge against Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte. Hassan did visit the injured officers upon her return to the Granite State.
Answering a question from WMUR-TV early last week, Gatsas said " I would have thought wherever she was, she would have come into town to see how those officers were."
Asked about that comment, Hassan told NH1 News last week that “what I think is truly unfortunate here is that somebody’s politicizing what was a very serious event.”
Gatsas responded on Tuesday, telling NH1 News “I can only tell you that I was there for those police officers. I was called at two o’clock and I was at the hospital at two-ten. When I hear that a police officer is being shot in this city, it’s important for me to be there. So I will leave it up to the Manchester Police Department to understand what I was doing and I don’t politicize anything. I just make statements.”
State Sen. Jeanie Forrester announced her economic plan last week. To date, she's the only gubernatorial candidate to hold a news conference to present a wide ranging set of economic proposals for the state.
Speaking with reporters, Forrester chided her rival candidates for not putting out their own plans, saying “I’ve been surprised that there’s been so little dialogue about public policy in the campaign for governor.”
Asked if her jab was fair, Gatsas said “I certainly leave that up to her. If she wants to criticize people, that’s fine. I looked at her economic plan. I’m not sure that’s something that I would advocate for because there’s not a lot of substance in it.”
The Forrester campaign responded.
The state senator's top political adviser, Mike Dennehy, told NH1 News "we look forward to debating the substance of everyone's economic plans when and if Mayor Gatsas and the other candidates release one. At this point Jeanie Forrester remains the only candidate with a plan."
Gatsas is backing Donald Trump as his party’s presidential nominee. And he said he’s comfortable campaigning with Trump in New Hampshire.
“I have no problem with that. I believe that he’s the candidate that we’re going to be campaigning with and certainly he is much, much, better than the alternative,”Gatsas said.
Gatsas spoke with NH1 News on Tuesday, minutes before meeting with employees at the 603 Brewery in Londonderry.
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