by Jody Reese
theory about why voters elected Frank Guinta mayor of Manchester last
month was that they were eager for change.
Nothing wrong with that. Change can be good for a community.
However, Guinta’s margin of victory was razor-thin, so it was hardly a
resounding mandate for gigantic and immediate change. And that’s
important for the mayor-elect to remember as the days dwindle down to
his inauguration next month.
Sure, some things about how the city operates are ripe for change. But
there are things that don’t need to be changed, and it would be nice to
know what Guinta’s intentions are as he prepares to take the oath.
Let’s take the city’s arts community. During the Baines administration,
the mayor’s office was a tireless champion of many events and
institutions that have made a big difference in the city’s quality of
life. Will Guinta continue this support?
list of Baines-backed programs is a long one. It includes the city’s
annual Downtown Jazz & Blues festival, the revitalization of the Palace
Theatre, the new summertime Theater in the Park program, and the city’s
annual Latino festival.
of these things have been good for Manchester, in that they’ve attracted
tens of thousands of visitors to our city. An active arts and festival
calendar is a crucial element of the city’s continued revival, giving
Manchester a vibrancy that helps fuel the local economy. It’s good for
these events don’t happen by themselves. They need the support of many
parties to happen — the business community, citizens and the city
government. Under Baines, the city had a tireless backer of such
programs who used the power of his office to remove obstacles and lend
Most significantly, Baines included $75,000 in each year’s city budget
to support the Palace Theatre. His mantra was that the Palace “should
never go dark again,” and he meant it.
Over the years, the theater has used this money as leverage to win
financial support from many other corners — support that wouldn’t have
materialized if the city hadn’t put up the money in the first place.
What will happen to this support under Mayor Guinta? What will happen to
plans to install underground conduits in Veterans Park to provide a safe
all-weather cabling for the next summertime theater series? What will
happen to the Jazz & Blues Festival, which was a Baines inspiration in
the first place?
Will Guinta use the bully pulpit of the mayor’s office to support these
programs, either through words or actions? Or will he claim that none of
it has anything to do with him, and from now on they’re on their own?
one expects Guinta to grab a mike and croon old standards, as Baines (a
former music teacher) was willing to do at the annual jazz festival. But
as mayor, he should let us know soon where he stands on encouraging and
supporting events and programs that are so important to the city’s
What tune will it be, Frank?