The mayoral bid of Ward 1 Alderman Joyce Craig of the North End is being embraced by Manchester’s West Side, the “Other Side of the River” that is home to Wards 10, 11 and 12. Both Alderman Bill Barry of Ward 10 and Alderman Norm Gamache of Ward 11 have endorsed Craig for mayor. New Hampshire State Rep. Robert Backus (Hillsborough District 19) of Ward 12 and State Rep. Patricia Cornell (Hillsborough District 18) of Ward 11 also support Joyce Craig.
Craig has found a significant base of support in Ward 10, where she did her third tour of its neighborhoods on Tuesday, August 25. In addition to Bill Barry, Craig is backed by State Senator Lou D’Allesandro (Senate District 20) and State Representatives Jane Beaulieu (Hillsborough District 45) and Tim Smith (Hillsborough District 17), all of them Ward 10 residents. Beaulieu, the daughter of Mayor Emile Beaulieu, represents the West Side in toto, as does Sen. D’Alessandro, while Smith represents Ward 10 specifically. Originally a supporter of Patrick Arnold, Smith shifted his allegiance to Craig.
One of Joyce Craig’s two campaign chairs is former Alderman Bill Cashin, a legendary figure in Queen City politics who served 32 years on the Board of Mayor and Alderman. His portrait is the only picture to grace the aldermanic chambers at City Hall. Along with his hard work helping navigate Manchester from the end of the manufacturing era to a modern economy, Cashin ensured that the West Side achieved parity with the other parts of the City, which historically has had at least three times as many aldermen.
Cashin, who has been active in Queen City politics for over a half century, is inspired by Craig’s demeanor and how she has run a clean, above-board campaign. He was impressed by the people who came out to her first fund-raiser at the American Legion’s Sweeney Post #2 in early June, at the start of her campaign. “There were people of all ages there,” he said. “People you haven’t seen for a long time that are being drawn back in.”
A gathering of 250 supporters attended the recent opening of her campaign headquarters at 266 Mammoth Road. When asked why Joyce Craig would be inspiring people after a decade in which the mayor’s office had been occupied by Frank Guinta and incumbent Ted Gatsas, Cashin mentioned Joyce Craig’s sincerity.
“She knows who she is,” Cashin said. “She’s comfortable with who she is.” After praising her intelligence, Cashin said, “Joyce has a sense of authenticity that can draw people back to caring. She’ll bring compassion to the mayor’s office, a quality that hasn’t been there.”
In her walk through Ward 10 on Saturday, August 22, Craig went door to door speaking to potential voters with a clip board in hand, just like all of her volunteers. She was accompanied by her daughter and her daughter’s friend. Many of the people who greeted her in the doorways of their homes or outside in their yards called her by her first name.
Nicholas Golon knows Craig as he is the treasurer of the Manchester Conservation Commission. When she asked him who he was favoring in the mayor’s race, he admitted it was between her and the incumbent. After a couple of minutes listening to Craig, he was ready to give her his vote.
In an interview with Joyce Craig, she told me that she grew up in Ward 8, the daughter of an electrician, and worked hard for her success. She and her husband Mike Craig, a fellow Manchester native whom she met at Memorial High, attended the University of New Hampshire-Durham. After graduating, she moved to Boston, where she began a career in marketing while Mike attended the Hub’s Suffolk University School of Law. The couple eventually decided to return home to Manchester to raise a family.
The son of Queen City Chief of Police Louis Craig, Mike became a criminal defense lawyer after serving 10 years as a prosecutor for Hillsborough County while Joyce transitioned to real estate and property management. Both have a long history of involvement with the community. For Joyce, it was concern with her children’s’ schools that led her to win a place on the School Board Committee. After serving on term on the School Board, she was elected alderman in 2009.
Asked about why so many have taken her to heart, Joyce Craig said, “I’m honored to have so much support on the West Side. We need to make sure we’re pursuing the policy that benefits all Manchester families and residents, and right now, too many are being left behind.”
It’s rare for a Manchester mayoral candidate to spend time on the West Side campaigning door to door. Craig told me, “I’ve made it a point to canvass all twelve wards and hold house parties throughout the city.”
“It took the passage of a budget written by Alderman Craig earmarking additional funding to education and public safety to put more law enforcement officers on the street, which boosted police presence on the West Side,” said Alderman Bill Barry. “It provided the funds to improve our schools and pave our roads.”