Pair of young entrepreneurs vie for seats held by veteran councilors as filing period opens
By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — City Councilor Ava Doyle won't be filing re-election papers when the municipal candidate filing period is held Wednesday through Aug. 11.
After seven years representing Ward 1, Doyle, 61, says she has had enough.
“I was appointed once and elected three times,” she said. “I've enjoyed it, but it's time to move on.”
Her ward takes in The Weirs, where she and her husband own a cottage colony.
“It's an active ward with all the construction and development going on,” she said. “It needs a new set of eyes.”
Her advice for whoever succeeds her?
“Be open-minded and understand that any pre-conceived notions about how things should work might need to be adjusted,” she said.
Doyle cautions that there are legal procedures for what the council may do and how decisions can be made.
“You can't always just decide to do something because a constituent wants it,” she said. “Everything has to go through a process.”
The mayor and all six City Council positions will be on the ballot this year. A primary will be held Sept. 12 if any race has more than two candidates. If there are two candidates or fewer for any of these positions, the race will be decided in the Nov. 7 general election.
Mayor Ed Engler has not announced yet whether he will seek re-election.
Brenda Baer, who represents Ward 4, will be running for re-election. At age 90, she feels there is still a lot she would like to get done on the City Council.
She would like to see the police department add a patrol officer who would walk a beat in the downtown area, which makes up a portion of her ward.
“A patrolman in the area would create good relationships,” she said. “People could walk the streets and feel a lot safer and business people would feel safer. Seeing a police officer every day could help with the transient element.”
She also said that the City Council must address the downtown parking situation. A city parking garage has fallen into disrepair. Improvements would be costly.
Above all, Baer said the city must retain a property tax cap approved by voters, which limits increases to a formula tied to inflation and new construction.
She is expected to be challenged by Breanna Henderson, who owns a popular downtown barber shop, Polished and Proper.
Henderson sees needs for improvements in schools and economic development, and wonders whether the property tax cap has outlived its usefulness.
“Times have changed,” she said. “Do we still need that cap if we want to foster the growth that needs to occur in the city over the next 10 to 20 years?”
She said the city needs to do what is necessary to attract younger people and grow, rather than trying to “save taxpayers cents on the dollar.”
Mark Haynes, 69, facilities manager of the Laconia Clinic and the Ward 4 moderator, is also planning to run against Baer. He said he has long favored the tax cap.
“I believe then and now it is a necessary budgeting tool,” he said. “I appreciate the work of past councils in building and remodeling city schools as well as construction of new police and fire department buildings all within the constraints of the cap.
“I support the present services the city offers, but understand fully that in these changing times we must be creative and stay on the cutting edge of technology to be competitive.”
It's not clear yet whether City Councilor Henry Lipman, whose Ward 3 also takes in part of downtown, will have competition this year.
Lipman said he would like another term to work on Laconia's amenities and infrastructure, maintain good financial stewardship for the city and build the area's sense of community.
“We've done quite a bit in the community in terms of public safety and school buildings,” he said.
“We've been trying to get more to parks and trails and roads. We've made some progress, but in terms of making the city a more attractive place for people to reside, that's critical.”
Lipman said progress has been made with tax cap-compliant budgets through “forward-thinking, planning and creativity.”
He said councilors have been able to work together productively and at times “disagree agreeably.”
In Ward 6, which takes in the Lakeport area, Reuben Bassett seeks to take over a position now held by veteran Councilor Armand Bolduc.
Bassett, co-owner of the Burrito Me restaurants in Laconia and Plymouth, has been attending recent City Council meetings. He and Henderson sit together, toward the back of the audience section.
Bassett, 31, said the council could use some fresh ideas.
“I think we need to be able to have an environment that fosters business,” he said.
“I think it's good to have turnover and fresh eyes.
“We need to address the aging population and how do we get younger families here. It's hard to do that if the only people running things are the older generation.”
Bolduc was unavailable for comment Monday.
Councilor Robert Hamel, who represents Ward 5, which takes in a south-central area of Laconia that includes Lakes Region General Hospital, said a big priority in a new term would be roads.
“I'm a big fan of infrastructure, keeping buildings in good repair,” he said. “We've been going through city-owned buildings including schools. It's time to tackle roads with whatever resources we have.
“I'd like to see economic development happen, with whatever pull the city has for a manufacturer coming to town, whatever the city can do to help business.”
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The filing period for elected positions in Laconia begins tomorrow, Aug. 2, and ends Friday, Aug. 11.
The following offices are scheduled for this year’s municipal election: mayor, councilors (all wards), supervisors of the checklist (all wards), moderator (all wards), ward clerk (all wards), selectmen (one per ward), police commissioner (one position with a four-year term expiring 2021), and Board of Education (one position from Ward 4 and Ward 5).
A declaration of candidacy is required to be filed with the office of the City Clerk, Laconia City Hall, 45 Beacon St. East.
- Written by Rick Green
- Category: Local News
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