Craig Cruises to Re-Election In Race for Manchester Mayor

Nov 5, 2019

Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig won a second term from Queen City voters Tuesday, beating challenger Victoria Sullivan, 57 percent to 43 percent.

The race between Craig, a Democrat, and Sullivan, a former Republican legislator, turned largely on questions of public safety and quality of life. 

On the campaign trail, Craig said the city had made progress in addressing homelessness and drug use, particularly downtown, and pointed to new development as evidence that Manchester was on the upswing. Sullivan campaigned on a promise to reverse what she termed Craig's failure to act strongly on crime.

These issues were on voters' minds throughout the day. Jody Wilhelm said she liked Craig's devotion to improving the city's future.

"I just think that she's a good leader, and she knows what's going on and she has the best sense of what Manchester needs to start a new time in terms of development, rather than stagnation," she said.

Jason Rowe said the city needed a change in leadership to address what he described as the blight downtown.

"I really feel like Elm Street is kind of a mess," he said, "with the homeless and the drugs in the parks. There's a lot of good activity downtown, but I just hate what it looks like."

Craig was first elected mayor two years ago, defeating incumbent Republican Ted Gatsas to become Manchester's first female mayor. She had previously served on the city's Board of Aldermen. Craig has been mentioned as a possible candidate for governor in 2020, but she said last night that she would serve out her second term and had no plans to jump in the governor's race next year.

Speaking at her victory party Tuesday night, Craig said her re-election is a sign that voters think the city is headed in the right direction.

"The momentum that we've had over the past couple of years is really exciting, and it's felt by the community and they want to see that continue," she said.

Manchester was one of 11 New Hampshire cities where voters chose municipal and school leadership and decided other ballot issues, such as allowing sports betting. For many voters, the 2020 election was not far from the conversation. 

Dover resident Paul Segit said he came to the polls mostly to check if he was properly registered to vote for February's presidential primary. He says he recently moved and wasn't sure.

"I was told I was, but I wasn't - and I didn't want to be in, like, the mob, maybe, that's going to be at the primary," Segit said.

Segit said he's now officially registered, and he got to vote in Dover's city elections today.

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The electronic gambling game Keno was also on the ballot in five cities: Concord, Dover, Keene, Rochester, and Portsmouth.  State lottery officials say revenue from sports betting and Keno gambling will bolster funding for public education. Annette Meyer, a former teacher who lives in Dover, said expanding gambling won't send enough money to New Hampshire schools. She voted against Keno and sports book betting, both of which weee on the ballot today in Dover.

"I don't want to see it when I go into a restaurant, and I don't think we need to have that for our restaurants to do good business," she said after voting.

Gov. Chris Sununu continues to rally support for sports book gambling locations, and Keno.

[Voters Give Gambling Questions Mixed Result]

Races

In Concord, incumbent Mayor Jim Bouley won his seventh term. He defeated Linda Rae Banfill by a wide margin, 3, 901 to 994. Concord electoin results.

Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier also won re-election. With 1,077 votes, he beat two challengers: Richard LaFlamme Jr. (542 votes), and J. Stewart Stevens (115 votes). Berlin voters also determined council school board, and election officials. The sports book retail locations question was approved 862 to 369.

Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig votes Nov. 5, 2019.
Credit Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Claremont Mayor Charlene Lovett is running unopposed for re-election.

In Dover's municipal election, incumbent Mayor Karen Weston was upset by Robert Carrier, who was serving as deputy mayor.

In Keene, George Hansel, a city councilor, won the mayoral race, defeating Mitch Greenwald in an open race. 

Laconia voters elected former state Sen. Andrew Hosmer for mayor. He defeated Peter J. Spanos, 1,767 to 1,478. Laconia election results.

Nashua Mayor James Donchess is running unopposed for a four-year term. Nashua voters will decide races for alderman, school board, fire commission, board of public works, of education, election officials, and a proposed charter amendment

Supporters and candidates hold campaign signs outside a Dover polling precinct.
Credit Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The city of Portsmouth will have a new mayor, Rick Becksted, who was the top vote-getter to succeed Mayor Jack Blalock, who did not run for re-election. Former councilor and state legislator Jim Splaine returns to the nine-member council as deputy mayor.

Rochester residents will vote for mayor, city council, school board, and police commission seats. Also on the ballot: whether to allow Keno and operation of "sports book retail locations." Mayor Caroline McCarley is running unopposed this year.

In Somersworth, Mayor Dana Hilliard is running opposed for a two-year term. 

(This post was updated with additional results Tuesday night, and Wednesday morning.)