Voters approve keno; Baer out, Bolduc in

11 08 vote Bolduc

Donald Bolduc, left, a retired brigadier general with the U.S. Army, campaigned at Leavitt Park along with his father, Armand, who ran for re-election to the City Council. Bolduc beat Reuben Bassett for Ward 6 in Laconia. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

Bruce Cheney, Mark Haynes elected, Armand Bolduc and David Bownes re-elected to City Council


LACONIA — Voters approved keno gambling in the city Tuesday, re-elected incumbent city councilors David Bownes and Armand Bolduc and selected facilities manager Mark Haynes and former police chief Bruce Cheney to join the council.

Bolduc, 78, who has served on the council for 34 years, defeated restaurateur Reuben Bassett, 226-191, in Ward 6.

Bolduc said he's looking forward to seeing improvements in downtown, including completion of the Colonial Theatre renovation and coming to some sort of agreement on the downtown parking garage, which has become dilapidated.

“I'd like to tear it right down to the first level, put a roof on the stores on the ground level, and build another garage somewhere else,” he said.

Bassett, who has a young family and is co-owner of the Burrito Me restaurant in the old railroad station downtown, said he had hoped to inject fresh new ideas into the council.

“I would have provided a different demographic,” he said. “Right now you have a lot of the same people, which is a concern. But if the young people don't come out and vote, their voices don't get heard.”

Cheney, 74, the father of the state's 911 emergency system, defeated real estate agent Susan Hodgkins, 178-149 in Ward 1, where incumbent councilor Ava Doyle did not seek re-election.

He said he wants to learn more before he sets any particular agenda.

“I think that I need to know a little more about a lot of things, but I'm looking forward to improving things,” Cheney said.

Mark Haynes, 67, the Ward 4 moderator and facilities manager at the Laconia Clinic, said he was shocked at being able to beat a 12-year incumbent, Brenda Baer, who at age 91 is the oldest person on the City Council.

“I would just like to keep the city moving forward,” he said.

Haynes said he was also looking forward at getting a fuller picture about pressing issues.

“As a candidate, you really don't have the inside information,” Haynes said.

For her part, Baer said she will maintain an interest in city affairs after she leaves the council.

“It is what it is,” she said. “I may be dead, but I'm not buried. I'll keep my nose in, believe me. My letter writing is not over.”

In Ward 2, longtime incumbent Councilor David Bownes, 68, defeated electronics repair shop owner Richard B. Beaudoin, 104 to 70.

“Of course I'm happy about being re-elected,” Bownes said. “There are some things that we can make a lot of progress on.”

He also said he wants to see the Colonial project through to fruition, and he said he wants to see progress on redevelopment of the former State School property. A state committee is looking at economic development options for that land.

“We have two new faces at the council, and this should be a good thing,” Bownes said. “We'll see where we can go from here.”

Teachers received a new contract this year that brings their salaries to a more competitive level, and Bownes said he wants to see how that plays out.

Mayor Ed Engler, Ward 3 City Councilor Henry Lipman and Ward 5 City Councilor Robert Hamel faced no opposition on the ballot.
Laconia was one of 10 New Hampshire cities with keno on the ballot Tuesday.

The Legislature passed a bill this year allowing keno in cities and towns if approved by local voters. The game is for establishments with liquor licenses, with net revenue going toward funding full-day kindergarten.

Accepting arguments that keno would be good for business and produce money for education, local residents approved the game for establishments with liquor licenses, 713-606.

About 50 such businesses could qualify in Laconia. Net revenue will go toward funding full-day kindergarten.

Proponents said the game would be good for business, because patrons tend to stay longer and order more food and drinks while they are playing. Opponents pointed to the problem of gambling addiction and said the odds of winning big at the game are astronomical.

In a lone contested school board race in the election, incumbent Stacie Sirois defeated Rodney Roy, 82-41, in Ward 5.

“I'm excited to be on the school board and to be able to see how the teacher contract goes and what we can build on from there,” she said.

11 08 vote Cheney Hodgkins

Bruce Cheney and Susan Hodgkins, both candidates for the open Ward 1 seat on Laconia City Council, greeted voters at the polls yesterday. Both won their races. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

11 08 Laconia vote Haynes

Mark Haynes, who defeated incumbent Brenda Baer in the Ward 4 City Council race, poses with his wife, Deb, in City Hall on Tuesday night. (Rick Green/Laconia Daily Sun)

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Correction: Isabelle featured in front-page photo

A caption that appeared with a photo on the front page of Tuesday's issue misidentified a player in the photograph. Gabrielle Isabelle was the Winnisquam volleyball player attempting to block a spike from Inter-Lakes's Emma Wheeler.

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It’s Election Day – councilors, keno on ballot


LACONIA — Voters go to the polls today to decide four City Council races, a School Board contest and the question of whether establishments in the city should be allowed to offer keno gambling.

Mayor Ed Engler, Ward 3 City Councilor Henry Lipman and Ward 5 City Councilor Robert Hamel face no opposition on the ballot.
The Legislature passed a bill this year allowing keno in cities and towns if approved by local voters. The game is for establishments with liquor licenses, with net revenue going toward funding full-day kindergarten.

About 50 such businesses could qualify in Laconia.

Proponents say the game would be good for business, because patrons tend to stay longer and order more food and drinks while they are playing. They also say it would provide much-needed money for schools.

Opponents point to the problem of gambling addiction and say the odds of winning big at the game are astronomical. Keno will be on the ballot in each of the city's six wards.

Ward 1

The Ward 1 ballot features a City Council race between Bruce Cheney and Susan Hodgkins. Incumbent Councilor Ava Doyle decided not to run.

Cheney, a former Laconia police chief and former director of the New Hampshire Department of Safety’s Division of Emergency Services and Communications, led the establishment of the statewide E-911 system. Now retired, he raises miniature horses.

He believes the city has been “a little more free with tax dollars” than he would like, but also says there are a lot of infrastructure challenges that will need to be dealt with. He sees the redevelopment of the former Laconia State School property as a high priority, and wants to help businesses thrive in Laconia’s downtown area.

Hodgkins is a real estate agent with Keller-Williams.

She wants to boost tourism and favors development of Phase 3 of the Winnisquam-Opechee-Winnipesaukee Trail, but also wants to address the concerns of residents at South Down Shores who are worried a trail extension could bring vandalism, trespassing and other problems.
She said she has seen tourism decrease in the Weirs Beach area and would like to see progress in revitalizing that area.

Ward 2

Richard B. Beaudoin is challenging incumbent Councilor David Bownes.

Beaudoin, an electronics repair shop owner, said the city needs to focus on maintaining its tax cap and believes efficiencies could be achieved through regionalization of services.

He is concerned about the vacancy rate of downtown buildings and the lack of diversity in what is offered.
Bownes, an attorney who previously was a stage actor, opposes spending more money on the city's dilapidated downtown parking garage.

He supports the redevelopment of the Colonial Theatre as a catalyst for further downtown development.

Ward 3

No contested races.

Ward 4

Incumbent City Councilor Brenda Baer is facing a challenge from Mark Haynes.

Baer said she wants to preserve the tax cap to protect the interests of residents in the face of others who want to spend “not for the good of the city, but for their own agendas. Spend without thinking how it affects the lives of the young, the old, the poor, and the middle class.”

Haynes, a facilities manager at the Laconia Clinic and Ward 4 moderator, also favors the tax cap as a necessary budgeting tool.
He notes that, even with the tax cap, the city has been able to build and remodel city schools as well as to build a new police station and fire station.

Ward 5

Incumbent Stacie Sirois is being challenged by Rodney Roy.

Sirois has served on the School Board for nine years. She cites her efforts to boost teachers’ salaries as an important priority.

She said the raises were needed to address the loss of good educators. With a good school system, more middle- and upper-middle-class people will want to settle in Laconia, she said, alleviating the burden on the school lunch program where 60 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

Rodney Roy objects to the “massive” cuts in sports that have taken place to balance the budget and suggested that giving up School Board stipends would set an example for others to contribute and keep sports going.

He also says the school needs to do better at providing options to keep students away from drugs. He suggests that students receiving free or reduced-price meals should be asked for a “buy-in” and gives the example of having them read to other students as a way of teaching them responsibility.

Ward 6

Incumbent City Councilor Armand Bolduc is facing a challenge from restaurauteur Reuben Bassett.

Bolduc, who has served for 34 years, says the council has done “a tremendous amount of work over the past 12 years within the tax cap,” and said if it disappears, “old people won’t be able to pay their bills.”

He said it took a lot of effort to accomplish what the city has done, but through hard work the council was able to stay within the cap. He doesn’t rule out regionalization of services if it benefits the city, but he is worried that placing the responsibility elsewhere might lead to excessive spending.

Bassett sees a lot of potential if someone like himself is allowed to bring some new ideas to bear on the downtown area.
He wants to bring in businesses that will make the city attractive to millennials, who are interested in other work patterns and recreational opportunities, he said.

The WOW Trail would serve as an attraction, and making infrastructure improvements would encourage new businesses, he believes.
“Make the area enticing, protect the environment, and make the city easy to work with,” he said.

Polling places

Polling hours will run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. today.

Ward 1 voting takes place at the Beane Conference Center, 35 Blueberry Lane.

Ward 2, St. Andre Bessette Parish Hall, 31 Gilford Avenue.

Ward 3, Laconia Middle School’s multipurpose room, 150 McGrath St.

Ward 4, New Covenant Church at Memorial Park Clubhouse, 31 Lindsay Court.

Ward 5, Woodland Heights Elementary School gymnasium, 225 Winter Street Extension.

Ward 6, Leavitt Park Clubhouse, 334 Elm St.

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