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Ruais, Cavanaugh advance in Manchester mayoral race

Manchester's city hall
Gabriela Lozada
Manchester's city hall

Manchester voters narrowed the field for the city’s mayoral race Tuesday, choosing Jay Ruais and Kevin Cavanaugh to advance November’s general election. While Manchester’s city elections are nominally non-partisan, Tuesday’s results mean two candidates with deep ties to their respective political parties will face off in the fall.

Ruais, a Republican, comfortably topped the primary field Tuesday with 4,296 votes.

An officer in the Army National Guard, Ruais was also a top staffer for former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta. He has placed his own recovery from alcoholism at the center of his campaign.

Cavanuagh, a Democrat, finished second in the four-person primary field with 2,570 votes. He served two terms as a state senator and sits on the Manchester Board of Alderman. He has strong ties to organized labor in the state.

The two will now face off to fill the seat currently held by Mayor Joyce Craig, who declined to seek a fourth term in City Hall but is instead seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in 2024.

The November election will likely turn on a handful of issues tied to the city’s economy and quality of life: the cost of housing, homelessness, and the ongoing addiction crisis.

At polling places across the city Tuesday, primary voters said they are looking for solutions from the next mayor on these and other issues.

“I’d really like to see more done on the homeless situation,” said Renee Van Leuven, a retired nurse, as she exited the polls. “That’s a big thing for me. And just keep Manchester growing.”

Steve Harvey, a Ward 2 voter, said he was most concerned about the plight of the city’s unhoused population: “It just seems to be totally intractable, and no one is coming up with any answers. I think we need someone to give us a plan, something to hang our hats on.”

The mayor’s office has regularly swung between Democrats and Republicans in recent decades. Before Craig’s term, Republicans won six straight mayoral elections.

Other candidates in Tuesday’s primary included Ward 2 Alderman Will Stewart, another Democrat, who won 1,987 votes; and Democrat June Trisciani, an at-large alderman who finished fourth with 1,455 votes.

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.
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