The official opening of the Joyce Craig for Mayor office attracted over two hundred people on the night of Wednesday, August 12. My estimate of 250 people filling up the two-tiered office located at 266 Mammoth Road was independently verified by Ward 10 Alderman Bill Barry, a Craig supporter. A retired public servant later told me he believed there must have been upwards of 300 people attending the event, as supporters were still showing up while he leaving after Craig had addressed the gathering and it was approaching 8 pm.
By the official opening time of 7 pm, the Craig for Mayor office already was packed, and new arrivals kept arriving steadily for well over one half-hour. Aside from Craig’s fellow Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BOMA) member Bill Barry, other prominent supporters in attendance were Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, New Hampshire State Senators Lou D’Allesandro and Donna Soucy, and aldermen Garth Corriveau, Pat Long and Tony Sapienza. Sapienza’s brother Ed, who is vying for the alderman’s seat in Ward 8, also was on hand before departing to co-host the Ed & Joe Show.
The mood of the people mingling shoulder to shoulder in the office was overwhelmingly positive, infused as they were with their belief that Joyce Craig was on her way to defeating Mayor Ted Gatsas. When it was time for her to speak, the candidate appeared joyful, energized by the good spirits of the vast assembly of well-wishers.
In her brief remarks, Craig said it “meant the world to me and her family” that so many supporters had turned out. After hailing friends and family, including her husband Mike as “the best campaign worker in the world,” she spoke of the need to remove Gatsas from the mayor’s office.
“We have a fantastic opportunity this year in Manchester to change leadership,” Craig said.
Many audience members had been discussing the big issue roiling the Queen City, Gatsas’s veto of the BOMA vote to approve a new teacher’s contract. It has been painstakingly negotiated after the teachers had gone without a contract for three years, and the teachers union had made significant concessions on healthcare coverage.
Craig said that Gatsas “showed us all why there was a need for leadership when he vetoed a fair, fiscally responsible, bipartisan teacher’s contract.” She was interrupted by great applause from the crowd that forced her to wait before she could resume sharing her thoughts. When she began speaking again, Craig referenced the School Board Committee’s vote of “No Confidence” in Gatsas, who as mayor also is head of the School Board.
“I commend the School Board for sticking together and handling that very well,” she said in praise of their vote, which included a request that BOMA reconsider the contract at its next meeting. The No Confidence vote and the request for reconsideration were “an indication that they are representing their constituents.”
Prior to her election as alderman, Craig had served Ward 1 as a School Board Committee member for two terms.
“What Gatsas did was wrong,” she said, and the citizens of Manchester knew it. Craig then addressed the practicalities of unseating Gatsas.
“My name’s on the ballot, but I can’t do this alone,” she said. “Voter turnout during municipal elections is pretty small usually so I need each and every one of you to make sure that you show up on September 15th or vote an absentee ballot if you’re not in town.”
Calling on the need for a community effort to change the direction of the Queen City, Craig asked the supporters to “talk to your friends and neighbors to make sure they understand the differences between the candidates and vote for me.”
That, too, was greeted with a round of thunderous applause.