by Jody Reese
Manchester needs more Steve Freemans. Last week Hippo interviewed him as part of the paperís weekly Q&A feature.
Steve is one of a growing number of residents under 40 who are getting involved in civic life. As chair of the Manchester Zoning Board of Adjustment, Steve helps mold development projects and push them forward. Steveís common sense approach takes a balanced view of development, weighing the need for it against the importance of keeping the historical character of the city and preserving green space.
I was on a panel recently with Union Leader editor-in-chief Charlie Perkins where he was critical of those younger than 35 for not being very involved in civic life. Perkinsí comments echoed a column the Union Leader ran a few months ago that argued that young people should not be voting because they were uninformed and uninvolved in civic life. I disagreed with Perkins.
The under-35 set participates more in civic life today than that group did 15 years ago, the low point for young adult voting. Voter turnout for the 18 to 29 demographic went from the 40 percent range in 1996 and 2000 to more than 50 percent in the last presidential election, above the national average.
More than just voting numbers, the under-40 crowd is heavily involved in local charities and serves in many youth sport organizations. Perkins should keep in mind that many of the 35 and younger crowd have young children and work longer hours to afford the basics. If there isnít as much civic action in that group, itís because theyíre busy.
City government is in the process of passing its annual budget. As exciting as that sounds, there are real consequences that could arise from the budget. Mayoral candidate Frank Guinta wanted to cut 2.5 percent out of all the departments. Sure, Iíd support that if it didnít mean less trash removal, less snow removal or less service at City Hall for my questions and concerns. The problem is that I like and need those services and, unlike the Hippo, those services arenít free. My feeling is that we either pay now or pay later with bad roads, dirty streets and more dangerous neighborhoods. Guintaís plan was quickly rejected by the board, meaning our property taxes will increase about 3 percent.
The Jazz & Blues festival will be held June 10-11 on Hanover Street. Buckwheat Zydeco and the Preservation Jazz Hall Band will play. This yearís festival to be the best yet. Just like in past years, Hippo will have a booth.
Please come by and visit us.
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