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Mayor-Elect Joyce Craig Names City Hall Team

Manchester, NH — Today, Mayor-elect Joyce Craig announced the hiring of Ryan Mahoney as Chief of Staff; Lauren Smith as Policy and Strategic Outreach Director; and, Donald Stokes as Community Engagement Director.

Former Chief of Staff for the New Hampshire House of Representatives, Ryan Mahoney will serve as Craig’s Chief of Staff and direct all operations in the Mayor’s office. Mahoney, of Manchester, most recently served as the senior staff member to NH State Senate Minority Leader Senator Jeff Woodburn and the NH State Senate Democratic Caucus. Mahoney will rely on his extensive experience in government administration to support Mayor-elect Craig’s plans to improve and modernize the function of city government.

Lauren Smith will act as Policy and Strategic Outreach Director and will work with city officials, business and community leaders, and residents to implement an agenda that builds a stronger Manchester. Smith will assist Mayor-elect Craig in implementing her innovative plans to improve our city with an emphasis on making Manchester’s school district a model for educating our children for the jobs of tomorrow. Prior to joining Craig’s staff, Smith served as the Communications Director for SEA/SEIU Local 1984, managing communications to over 12,000 public and private-sector workers across New Hampshire.

Donald Stokes will join the team as Community Engagement Director. A recent graduate of Saint Anselm College, Stokes worked on Mayor-elect Craig’s 2017 campaign, as well as on the re-election campaign of Executive Councilor Chris Pappas. Stokes will oversee interactions with residents to ensure the Mayor’s office is more open, responsive and accessible than ever.

“As we begin the hard work of building a stronger Manchester, I am thrilled to announce the hiring of my key staff members,” said Craig. “Ryan, Lauren and Donald share my desire to make the mayor’s office work in the best interest of all Manchester residents. As a team, we are excited to address Manchester’s challenges and ensure that the Queen City reaches its full potential.” 

Joyce Craig releases plan for ‘Emphasizing Education and Preparing our Students for the Future’

Manchester, N.H. – Manchester mayoral candidate Joyce Craig has released her “Emphasizing Education and Preparing our Students for the Future” plan, detailing the approach she would take as mayor to improve schools in the Queen City.

The quality of Manchester schools have declined significantly under Ted Gatsas.  In the 2009-10 NH Dept. of Education assessment, 64% of Manchester 3rd graders were reading at grade level. By 2016-17, only 28% of Manchester 3rd graders were reading at grade level.

Math comprehension rates have seen a similar decline under Gatsas. In 2009-10, 65% of Manchester 5th graders met grade-level standards in math. In 2016-17, that number had dropped to 22%. This problem is magnified by the fact that some Manchester students don’t have the textbooks or workbooks that teachers say they need to succeed in math.

Manchester students today have some of the lowest reading and math comprehension rates in the state, and these figures have become worse while Ted Gatsas has been mayor. This problem is compounded since Mayor Gatsas caused surrounding towns to leave the Manchester school district, costing the city approximately $15 million in revenue.

Joyce Craig’s approach involves working with parents, administrators, and teachers to emphasize literacy in early education, ensuring students’ safety, and starting a conversation about bringing students back to the Manchester school district.

Joyce Craig issued the following statement:

“The facts are clear that the education that the city of Manchester offers its students has declined over the past eight years. In the latest New Hampshire Department of Education assessment, only 28% of our 3rd graders are reading at grade level. These numbers are among the lowest of any school district in the state. This has to change.

“I believe in Manchester public schools and in our hardworking teachers. My plan focuses on improving outcomes for all students. I will engage our community in a discussion about how to put our children back on the right track and fully prepare them for the future. Ensuring a good school district is pivotal for attracting businesses and residents, driving economic development, and building a stronger Manchester.”

Emphasizing Education and Preparing our Students for the Future

Strong schools are critical for a thriving community and a growing economy. A good school district helps to attract and retain businesses and residents, drives economic development, provides opportunities for our children, and helps prevent crime and delinquency. There has never been a more pivotal moment to impact the direction of Manchester’s public schools than right now.

As Mayor, I will:

  • Ensure students and teachers have access to basic tools such as books, workbooks, online resources, and technology.
  • Provide Manchester teachers with on-going professional development opportunities to improve outcomes for students.
  • Modernize curriculum and course offerings in our schools to prepare students for the 21st century economy and the innovative industries and jobs in Manchester – establish process for evaluation of existing curriculum on regular basis.
  • Establish a Mayor’s Youth Employment Initiative to provide young people with career experience, training, internships, and opportunities in new careers.
  • Fight to ensure Manchester is receiving our fair share of state and federal funding – advocate for special education, adequacy funding and against downshifting from the state.
  • Update strategic plan and develop measurable goals and benchmarks for the district focused on improving student achievement.
  • Support and grow workforce ready educational opportunities at MST, Central, Memorial and West.
  • Repair broken relationships with the former sending towns, Hooksett, Auburn and Candia, and seek new relationships to bring students to Manchester. The city has lost over $15 million in revenue from sending towns since these students left the school district, which has increased the tax-burden for Manchester residents.
  • Work with our parents, administrators and teachers to emphasize literacy in early education to start foundation for success. Currently, only 28% of third graders in Manchester Public Schools are reading at grade level.
  • Engage in honest and open communication with parents about safety concerns in our schools and work to immediately implement solutions when problems are identified.
  • Foster trust and collaboration between the School Board and the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
  • Work with city businesses, local colleges, non-profits, and community leaders to develop public/private partnerships and utilize all available resources to improve outcomes for students.
  • Reinstitute Mayor’s Youth Advisory Board and encourage student representation on the School Board.
  • Bring back the Gifted and Talented Program – educate parents about online resources/VLACs opportunities.
  • Ensure that students who utilize special education services are offered every opportunity to succeed. The Manchester School District has been repeatedly criticized by the NH Department of Education for failing to serve this population and the school district has settled well over $1 million in lawsuits brought against the district in the past two years alone.
  • Work with parents, educators and the school board to evaluate and implement policies to reduce class sizes.

Joyce Craig has now released comprehensive plans on all her priorities for Manchester: education, economic growth, city management, safety and the opioid crisis, and transparency. All of Joyce’s plans can be found at joycecraig.org/plans.

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NH GOP Is Divided Over Free Staters Moving On In Manchester City Elections

A Dozen Free State Project Candidates Advance to Manchester Municipal General Election Amid NH GOP Divide Over Secession  

Free State Project members running for political office often hide or deny their FSP affiliation; Granite State Progress’ Free State Project Watch exposes those connections; In response to report, WMUR NH Primary Source covers NH GOP divide over whether to support Free State Project candidates, some of whom are openly organizing for secession 

Concord, NH – At least a dozen Free State Project candidates will advance to the Manchester municipal general election in November, according to Granite State Progress’ Free State Project Watch. Andre Rosa, the only Free State Project member candidate with a contested primary, narrowly lost his primary bid to represent Ward 11 on the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Granite State Progress highlighted Rosa’s participation in the Free State Project in a press release last week; Rosa subsequently lost placing on the ballot by only 14 votes [148-162].

Meanwhile, WMUR NH Primary Source reported today that prominent members of the New Hampshire Republican Party are clashing over Granite State Progress’ report on Free State Project candidates.

“Free State Project candidates running for state house or municipal office don’t openly share their extreme views when campaigning for office, which is why Granite State Progress created Free State Project Watch to better educate voters and constituents. Free Staters moved to New Hampshire as part of a group with the stated purpose to take over state government and dismantle it, and to use the threat of secession once they meet their initial goals. Members of the media and public are strongly encouraged to ask Free State Project candidates whether they disclose their FSP affiliation in campaign materials and, if not, why,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “It is heartening to see Republican leaders in the state join their Democratic counterparts in raising serious concerns about the Free State Project and its goals. We urge NH GOP Chair Jeanie Forrester to listen to the concerns of leadership and rank and file members, and to stop recruiting Free Staters as candidates for office.”

The Free State Project candidate list is part of the Free State Project Watch of Granite State Progress, and can be found online at https://freestateprojectwatch.org/. Granite State Progress released similar candidate lists during the 2012, 2014, and 2016 general elections, and reviews municipal candidate filings periodically.


Previous press releases:

Granite State Progress Releases List of 13 Free State Project Candidates Running for Municipal Office in Manchester, Thursday, September 14, 2017

Breaking: House Speaker Shawn Jasper Condemns Free State Project Electeds, Manchester Candidates Calling for Secession, Friday, September 15, 2017

Free State Project member candidates in Manchester general election by ward and office, including links to Granite State Progress’ Free State Project Watch profile on each candidate:

Ward 3: Selectman candidate Phillip Harris

Ward 3: School Committee candidate Phillip Harris

Ward 4: Moderator candidate Colin Gibson

Ward 4: Clerk candidate Holly Beene Seal

Ward 5: Aldermanic candidate Cameron Barr*

Ward 5: Selectman candidate Cameron Barr*

Ward 5: Selectman candidate Michael Garcia*

Ward 6: Clerk candidate Chandler Blair Gabel*

Ward 8: Selectman candidate William Cerf*

Ward 10: Aldermanic candidate Tammy Simmons (Honorary FSP member)

Ward 10: Clerk candidate Merav Yaakov

Ward 11: Selectman candidate Andrew Vermiglio*

Ward 11: Selectman candidate Alexander Avery

Ward 11: School Committee candidate Alexander Avery

Ward 12: Selectman candidate Clarence Gardner*

* Free State Project members with additional roles or volunteer lead assignments with NH Exit or Foundation for New Hampshire Independence, Free State Project off-shoot groups specifically dedicated to organizing for New Hampshire to secede from the United States, in addition to the Free State Project itself threatening secession. See full candidate profiles for more details.

 

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