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Mar 16, 2016 6:30 PM

Landrigan: Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas calls for tougher penalties against drug dealers in State of the City speech.

MANCHESTER - Mayor Ted Gatsas called for tougher penalties for drug dealers who give addicts a deadly dose of heroin or fentanyl.

"If we don’t start charging people with attempted murder with the numbers happening today, it’s just not right,’’ he said, making the opioid crisis a major theme of his seventh State of the City address on Wednesday, calling it a public safety and public health emergency.

"We must have a conversation with the judges, the fines have to be higher, the bails need to be set higher and if not, let’s keep them in jail," Gatsas said to a large crowd at the Manchester Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event in the Puritan Conference Center.

Since Jan. 1, there have been 154 overdose calls; one in six ended up as a fatality. The youngest victim was 22 years old, the oldest 57.

Gatsas says he will soon announce an early prevention program, warning parents about what to watch out for.

"If you have missing teaspoons in the house, what does that mean? If you have rolled up balls of tin foil, what does that mean?" Gatsas asked rhetorically.

Soon he’ll make a decision on whether to run for governor but not today.

"I’m here today about a city and a state of the city and that’s where I am going to leave it today. But tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day and you never know what leprechauns might bring," Gatsas jokes.

Former Mayor Bob Baines, a Democrat, says if Gatsas goes for it, this will be a tough juggling act.

"It was something I figured out in my mind it would have been impossible to do but maybe Ted can make it work," Baines told NH1 News.

But another who’s been there says the city’s drug problem should not hold him back.

"I don’t think so because it’s not a Manchester issue; it’s a state issue and it’s a national issue,’’ said former Mayor Sylvio Dupuis.

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