The real election issues
by Jody Reese
Elections in times
of prosperity can be tough for the challengers. Just ask Ward 3 Alderman
Frank Guinta, who is challenging three-term Mayor Robert Baines.
The city is doing
well both in terms of government finances and quality of life, making it
hard to base a campaign about one big issue, such as property taxes.
Guinta has therefore
chosen to present himself as a reasonable, but not extreme alternative
to Baines. He says he would pare down city government or at the very
least slow its growth, but not overhaul it. Baines responds that city
government has been held at 3 percent annual increases, about the rate
of inflation, and that he used a hiring freeze to keep growth in check.
For his part, Baines’ campaign is very much about the city’s success
under his reign.
The problem with a
race containing little or no major difference of opinion is that it
becomes a popularity contest, and in politics that means mud-throwing.
happening. Recently Hippo received an e-mail from Baines’ campaign
sending out pictures of Guinta’s campaign volunteer putting up signs
allegedly against city ordinance.
Given that there are
few major differences in the direction the two candidates want to take
the city, I encourage them to discuss a variety of issues that could
help improve this city. Here are a few issues or concerns that should be
addressed in this season’s race.
Manchester is the hottest city in northern New England, perhaps the
hottest in all of New England, it needs to safeguard its reputation by
making sure its streets, parks, parking lots, sidewalks and school
grounds are spotless. A concerted effort to clean the city would
encourage all the litterbugs out there to cut it out.
Jac Pac: That land
is very valuable. It should not be turned over to a developer to build
condos, even really cool condos. Perhaps it could be turned into a
research-and-development facility surrounded by a park.
incentives/credits: Many small businesses, such as retail, have very
low profit margins,but offer the city intangible benefits by making the
city more attractive to other types of businesses, such as law firms and
banks. Offering retail businesses some type of property tax credit could
really spur that needed growth.
Bike paths: Add bike
paths throughout the city so someone can get around without a car. Allow
Segways on them. Maybe they’re too expensive but maybe the federal
government can help.
Provided by city government. Man, this would really anger Comcast and
Verizon, but it would change Manchester for the better forever. New York
offers free Wi-Fi to everyone lounging in Central Park.