Hippo Manchester
July 21, 2005

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Publisher's Note

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.

It’s already 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.

Cleanliness: 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.

Tax 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.

Wireless Internet: 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.