Annual Town Elections with Question 1 on May 17
By Gregory T. Federspiel
The annual Town Elections are set to take place on Tuesday, May 17th at the Memorial School Gymnasium from 7AM until 8PM. All registered voters are urged to take the time to cast a ballot for the numerous elected positions being chosen and to weigh in on the future of public safety dispatch services for Manchester. Entry to the elementary school gymnasium is under the Gymnasium sign (portion of the building closest to Summer Street.)
For those not here on the 17th, voters may request an absentee ballot by filling out the form located on the Town’s web site and mailing it in by noon on May 11, or by stopping in at Town Hall to request and fill out an absentee ballot by noon on May 16.
Positions being elected are:
Three Constables each for a three-year term (2 incumbents up for re-election (Joseph Aiello and G. David MacDougall) possible write in for the third position)
One member of the Manchester Housing Authority for a five-year term (write in possible, no declared candidate)
One member of the Manchester Library Board of Trustees for a three-year term (Eden Davies declared candidate)
One Moderator for a one-year term (Alan Wilson, incumbent, seeking re-election)
Three members of the PLANNING BOARD each for a three-year term (3 incumbents seeking re-election – Mary Foley, Ron Mastrogiacomo, and Laura Tenny)
Two members of the SCHOOL COMMITTEE each for a three-year term (5 candidates seeking election – Eric Bradford, Kristen McLaughlin, Anna Lin Mitchell, Erica Spencer, Nadia Wetzler)
Two members of the BOARD OF SELECTMEN each for a three-year term (1 incumbent and 2 new candidates seeking election - Catherine Bilotta, Brian Sollosy, and Jeffrey Bodmer-Turner, incumbent)
Contested races are for the School Committee where five candidates are vying for just two positions and for the Board of Selectmen (soon to be called the Select Board) where three candidates are vying for 2 positions. No one has declared their candidacy for the Manchester Housing Authority. Write in candidates are always an option for any of the positions.
The other item on the annual election ballot is Question 1 asking voters if they recommend that the Board of Selectmen pursue securing Public Safety Dispatch services through the north Shore Regional 911 center. The Select Board placed this non-binding question on the ballot to gain maximum voter feedback on the issue before finalizing their decision. The question follows the format and explanatory summary of a state-wide referendum. On Thursday evening 5/5/22, starting at 7PM, the last of five public forums presenting information on the option of boosting in-house dispatch operations or going with the regional center will be held via Zoom. Here is the actual question, summary and yes or no choice as presented on the ballot:
Question 1: Do you recommend that the Board of Selectmen pursue securing Public Safety Dispatch services through the North Shore Regional 911 Center, phasing out our local dispatching operations?
Summary: For the past 18 months the Board of Selectmen have been reviewing options for the delivery of public dispatch services primarily to our Fire/Rescue and Police Departments. Our current In-House service has deficiencies including antiquated software and limited staffing for handling large incidents or simultaneous incidents. The Town needs to either bolster its In-House operations by providing 2 dispatchers 24/7 or seek services through a regional entity. The State’s North Shore Regional 911 Center has completed a Feasibility Study confirming its ability to provide the necessary equipment and staffing to provide dispatch service to the Town and is offering a no-cost contract through 2029 and renewable through 2039 with the agreement of the Parties. Under the regional model, the Town will incur the cost of maintaining a receptionist-staffed lobby for 16 hours a day. Audio/video contact will be available in a secure lobby the rest of the time. Under the In-House model, dispatchers provide lobby coverage 24 hours a day.
Cost Comparisons for the next seven years: (in today’s dollars)
Regional 911 Center: 7 year Town Capital Costs: $20,000; 7 year Town Operating Costs: $1.31 million
In-House 911 Service: 7 year Town Capital Costs: $500,000; 7 year Town Operating Costs: $5.27 million
A YES VOTE means that you support moving to the Regional 911 Center YES ___
A NO VOTE means that you support increasing both Operating and Capital costs, as
described above, to update our In-House dispatch service NO ___