CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire’s capital city is looking for its next mayor, after longtime Mayor Jim Bouley announced in August he wouldn’t seek reelection after serving for 16 years.
The city’s filing period closed on Monday, and so far three candidates have thrown their hats into the ring for the nonpartisan office. More candidates could join them if they gather signatures and file with a petition by Friday.
Byron Champlin will be familiar to some in Concord, as he’s served on city council for a decade and is currently an at-large city councilor. He has praised Bouley’s tenure and positioned himself as a candidate who would build on what he considers Bouley’s success in moving Concord from “a city in a coma to a city on the rise.”
Champlin said he would prioritize economic development to broaden the city’s tax base, and focus on the housing crisis as a response to both homelessness and employers struggling to hire.
“I think safety services need to be attended to,” he said. “We have seen a rise in crime around drug use that needs to be looked at.”
Champlin said he’s lived in Concord for 40 years, chairing various boards and serving on several community committees. He retired in 2018 from his work with the Lincoln Financial Group. He’s also worked in communications and - fun fact - cleaning stalls and taking care of racehorses.
Kate West, who is a 33-year-old single mom, said her lived experience informs her platform, setting her apart from other candidates and those who have previously held the office. She was unhoused for several months and as a result lost her seat as a school board member. From West’s perspective, that illustrates the barriers people from different backgrounds face when it comes to participating in city government.
She said she wants to make government accessible to everyone and that she’ll bring a new perspective to the office. She said she’s workshopping the slogan, “My mayor rides the bus.” “I do and therefore I know that the bus route doesn’t run on the weekends and how that impacts someone that needs transportation, if they need to get grocery shopping done,” she said.
There’s no bus stop in front of the Department of Health and Human Services where people go to apply for food stamps, and the bus doesn’t run when city council meetings are happening, West said. Those are barriers she’d like to address.
She also wants to focus on more affordable housing and cultural competency education in the city. She was born in Concord and works at the Capitol Center for the Arts as a front of house operations manager.
Finally, George Jack is running, but has remained quiet about his platform and qualifications. A number listed for him is no longer current. An author and poet, he ran unsuccessfully for school board in 2013 and for an at-large seat on the city council in 2017. He has described himself as a work from home dad who wanted to serve to benefit his two daughters in the school system and to benefit the community.
The election is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 7.
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