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Manchester, N.H., elects first female mayor

The spire of Manchester City Hall in Manchester, N.H. Tom Herde/Globe Staff/File

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Former Manchester Alderman Joyce Craig on Tuesday won the mayor’s race in New Hampshire’s biggest city, becoming the first woman to hold the office. At least a half-dozen communities also approved keno.

Craig, a Democrat, beat four-term Republican Mayor Ted Gatsas in the race to lead the city of Manchester.

New Hampshire Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan praised Craig’s historic election.

‘‘As the first woman elected mayor of the city, Joyce adds to New Hampshire’s outstanding legacy of electing strong woman leaders,’’ Shaheen said. She also thanked Gatsas for his years of service.

Meanwhile, residents in Berlin, Claremont, Somersworth, Laconia, Manchester and Nashua all voted to approve the electronic bingo game keno in bars and restaurants in an effort to raise money for full-day kindergarten.


In Rochester, keno appeared to have passed by a single vote. Several other communities rejected keno: Concord, Dover and Keene.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signed a proposal into law in July allowing money from keno to fund kindergarten programs. He left it up to individual communities to decide whether to allow it. Towns will consider it next year.

Voters in Franklin already had their election on a ballot measure last month, and approved keno. Officials in Portsmouth decided against putting it on the ballot.

Nearly 75 percent of New Hampshire communities already offer full-day kindergarten, but the state only pays half the standard per-student amount for those pupils, or about $1,800. Under the new law, the state will provide an additional $1,100 per full-day kindergarten student starting in 2019 and more in later years, depending on how much money is generated by keno.

Some opponents complain that keno will take money from those who can least afford it and will encourage addictive behavior.

State lottery commission officials estimate keno could raise $443 million for education. They said Massachusetts takes in $900 million a year in its keno game, with 2.5 percent of the money coming from New Hampshire residents.


This is the first general election in New Hampshire under a new state law requiring voters who move to the state within 30 days of an election to provide proof that they intend to stay. Democrats have challenged it in court, arguing it presents confusing, unnecessary and intimidating hurdles to voting. A state judge allowed the law to take effect, but blocked penalties of a fine and jail time for fraud, saying he wants to hear arguments in the case.