The candidates for mayor of Manchester squared off in their first face-to-face forum Thursday night. Incumbent three-term Mayor Ted Gatsas is being challenged by Joyce Craig, a veteran alderman.
The two presented starkly contrasting visions for the state’s largest city.
The forum took place at an elementary school — an appropriate setting considering that education was a running theme through the evening.
Craig, a Democrat, faulted Gatsas for large class sizes and other problems in Manchester’s schools.
"As I'm going through the city and knocking on doors, I’m been hitting those doors where there’s a house for sale. The reason they’re moving: schools," Craig said. "We cannot hide behind this anymore. We need to have a leader who is going to address this issue and move the city forward.”
But the Republican Gatsas painted a rosier picture — and he pointed to public-private initiatives he’s pushed for, including one that enables high school students to earn college credits.
"I went out and raised somewhere in the vicinity of the $67,000 so that those students this year can start taking course with dual credits, at no cost to them with scholarships," Gatsas fired back. "So when we talk about what’s happening in education, good things are happening.”
Other topics of debate included the city’s heroin epidemic and refugee population. There will be more opportunities to discuss these and other issues: the candidates will meet at least five more times in different neighborhoods leading up to the election Nov. 3 .