LACONIA — Ted Gatsas, the mayor of Manchester who is one of four Republican candidates for governor, said this week that theme of his campaign is "make it simple, get it done."
"I am the only candidate in this race with business experience, legislative experience and executive experience," Gatsas declared over coffee at the Tilt'n Diner this week.
Born and raised in Manchester, Gatsas and his brother Michael founded Staffing Network, an employee leasing company that became among the largest employers in New England. After the company was acquired by ADP Payroll, he embarked on his political career in 2000, serving in the New Hampshire Senate, including a stint as its president, and on the Manchester Board of Alderman concurrently for a decade. In 2009 he was elected the 47th mayor of Manchester and is now serving his fourth term.
Gatsas said that as mayor he manages the largest city in the state with a annual municipal budget of more $300 million , which is subject to both a tax cap and and spending cap. "It's not easy," he remarked. "I look at problems and try to find solutions." For example, Gatsas said when he found that street lighting cost the city $1.3 million a year, he negotiated with Eversource to install LED lights, sparing the city $400,000 annually.
Gatsas said that he would follow the same approach to challenges facing the state. The high cost of heath insurance, he said, reflected the lack of competition, explaining that he would require Anthem to divest itself of the business it gained by acquiring Cigna to add a third carrier to the market. He said that Manchester has frozen health insurance costs for its employees for two years without impairing benefits.
Gatsas said he would begin addressing the high cost of energy by requiring that 30 percent of the power generated by the Northern Pass be designated for New Hampshire, before even discussing the other concerns about the project. "We must not become a donor state," Gatsas said flatly.
Opioid addiction, Gatsas insisted, posed the most important and immediate problem. This week he issued what he billed as "a comprehensive plan" that began with declaring "a public health emergency" and stressed expanding treatment and recovery services, especially medically assisted programs, and introducing drug courts in all ten counties. He would also impose stiffer penalties for drug trafficking, including charging those whose trade causes death with murder with a mandatory life sentence without parole. "This is our number one problem," he said.
Referring to reducing the cost of street lighting and managing the cost of health insurance, Gatsas said "these are the things the governor should be doing." He is taking a pragmatic approach to governance based on identifying problems and applying solutions while avoiding debate on polarizing issues that he believes are not relevant to the challenges facing the state and are more likely to breed dissension than consensus. cannot be resolved.
Gatsas is vying for the Republican gubernatorial nomination against New Hampshire Senator Jeanie Forrester of Meredith, Executive Council Chris Sununu Newfields and Representative Frank Edelblut of Wilton.
CAPTION: In a chance encounter on the campaign trail, Mayor Ted Gatsas of Manchester, one of four Republican candidates for governor, ran into one of his current constituents, Jim Wallis, while stopping at the Tilt'n Diner. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)