Election Day Live Blog: Craig Wins Rematch in Race for Manchester Mayor

Nov 7, 2017

9:15 p.m. -- Democrat Joyce Craig has been elected mayor of Manchester, the first woman to ever win that office.

Craig defeated 4-term incumbent mayor Ted Gatsas by roughly 2,000 votes to claim the top spot in New Hampshire’s largest city.

Craig supporters were ecstatic Tuesday night as the results came in less than an hour after the city’s polls closed. Craig and Gatsas faced off on Election Day two years ago. 

“Manchester’s best days are still ahead of us and I cannot wait to get to work as your mayor," Craig told supporters at the Puritan Conference Center in Manchester shortly after claiming victory.

Craig, a Democrat and former alderman, said she would work to improve the city’s schools and combat the opioid crisis on day one.

Craig will officially move into the mayor’s office in January. 

Tune in to NHPR's Morning Edition Wednesday for more coverage of elections in Manchester and across the state.

5 p.m. -- Keno, which is on the ballot in 11 cities today, is a tough choice for some voters. Don Bourneaville tells NHPR, "You start bringing in gambling and stuff you are going to bring in other stuff and yet you go the other way and it's going to help out, so that is on the fence for me," he says.

4:30 p.m. -- What is motivating voters on Nov. 7, 2017? Outside a polling place in Manchester, NHPR's Paige Sutherland asked Guy Drapebu what brought him out today. 

"Taxes."

"Are there any other issues?

"That's pretty much it," Drapebu says.

4 p.m. update:

As Election Day began, the Secretary of State's website had several broken links and blank pages where information about voter registration should have been, Casey McDermott reports. Those blank pages existed in the days before voters went to the polls, some residents say. Read more about this story here.

2 p.m. update:  

Manchester voters are asked to choose a city flag design in a non-binding, informational question Nov. 7.

The ballot question in Manchester about a proposed city flag design has caught some voters by surprise, NHPR has found in exit interviews. Others said they were torn over which of the four options, including the current flag, to pick. As Patty Hicks told NHPR's Paige Sutherland, with a laugh, "The toughest decision was on the flag."

NHPR caught up with Mike Skelton, CEO of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, for the backstory on how this flag question came to be. (It's a non-binding, informational question.)

Noon update:  

Voters in Franklin backed keno during their city elections earlier this fall.

Elected officials on the ballot include city councilors or aldermen, school board members, and local election officials.

The contested mayoral races:

Berlin: Incumbent Paul Grenier, Richard Mattos Jr.

Concord: Incumbent Jim Bouley, Linda Banfill, Roy Schweiker

Dover: Incumbent Karen Weston, Derek Dextraze

Keene: Incumbent Kendall W. Lane, Robert J. Call

Manchester: Incumbent Ted Gatsas, Joyce Craig

Portsmouth: Incumbent Jack Blalock is running again. In the Port City, candidates run for one of the nine city council seats, and the top vote-getter wins the mayor’s office.

Rochester: Incumbent Caroline McCarley, Donald M. Barnes, Doug Lachance, Matthew G. Scruton.

In Nashua, Mayor Jim Donchess is not on the ballot because he was elected to a four-year term. Nashua voters will consider a multi-million performing arts center.-----------As it does every election, the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office has an election day hotline for complaints of alleged election law violations: 1-866-868-3703. -----------

10:30 a.m. update:

Most polls close at 7 p.m. In Manchester, Ward 2 moderator Nicholl Marshall anticipates heavier turnout than two years ago.  Because, Marshall says, "if the mayor's race two years ago was decided by 64 votes that will make more people realize their vote counts and they'll be more inclined to turn out to the polls." 

Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas greets supporters at Ward 9.
Credit Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Kathy Labelle cast her ballot for Gatsas. "My biggest thing is finances, the budget - the tax cap." 

Patty Hicks, meanwhile, says it's time for change. She supports Craig. It was an easy choice, she says. "the toughest decision was on the flag," she says laughing.

The ballot in Manchester features a non-binding informational question. It asks voters to pick their preferred city flag, out of four options, including the current one.

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There are two special elections today for N.H. House vacancies. For a seat representing Manchester's Ward 8, the candidates are Republican Albert MacArthur and Democrat Erika Connors. In Sullivan County District 1, a seat representing Cornish, Grantham, Plainfield, and Springfield, the candidates are Democrat Brian M. Sullivan and Republican Margaret M. Drye.

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As voters head to the polls, NHPR's Casey McDermott reports that a lawsuit is still pending against a new voting law known as Senate Bill 3. 

The state law's penalties are on hold. Deputy Secretary of State Dave Scanlan says local officials have reported few issues with complying with the new registration processes. READ McDermott's story:  As N.H. Voters Head to the Polls, Proof of Residence Voting Law Remains in Limbo.

Mayoral candidate Joyce Craig identifies herself before picking up her ballot at the Webster School on Nov. 7, 2017.
Credit Dan Tuohy/NHPR

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9 a.m. update,

LISTEN to NHPR's Morning Edition, which aired live from The Bridge Cafe in Manchester.

Guests included former Democratic Party Chairwoman Kathy Sullivan, former Republican Sen. David Boutin, Manchester firefighter Chris Hickey, businesswoman Alex Horton, ManchesterInkLink's Carol Robidoux, Union Leader Executive Editor Trent Spiner, NHPR's Paige Sutherland, and Manchester Historic Association Executive Director John Clayton.

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Polling hours: Berlin, 8-7 p.m.; Concord, 7-7 p.m.; Claremont, 8-7 p.m.; Dover, 8-7 p.m.; Keene, 8-7 p.m.; Laconia, 8-6 p.m.; Manchester, 6-7 p.m.; Nashua, 6-8 p.m.; Portsmouth, 8-7 p.m.; Rochester, 8-7 p.m.; Somersworth, 8-7 p.m.

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New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner has hired former Senior Assistant Attorney General Orville "Bud" Fitch to be a staff attorney focusing on elections. 

Manchester polls at Webster School.
Credit Dan Tuohy/NHPR