Manchester's Old Flag Thumps New Flags in Election Day Blowout

Nov 8, 2017

Candidates for Manchester's official flag.

Manchester voters opted for a new mayor on Tuesday, but decided to keep their old flag.

While the race between Ted Gatsas, the incumbent, and challenger Joyce Craig rightfully earned the most attention, residents of the Queen City were also asked to weigh in on whether to adopt a new city flag.

The vote was the culmination of a months-long project organized by local residents to design a new flag, one they hoped could be a symbol of pride in Manchester. After receiving nearly 300 entries, a panel of judges, including the head of the graphic design department at the N.H. Institute of Art, narrowed the selections down to three finalists. They, along with the current flag -- simply the seal of the city printed on a white background -- appeared on Manchester’s ballot on Tuesday.

It wasn’t close. With more than 80 percent of the vote, the old flag easily defeated the challengers in the non-binding referendum.

The city’s new mayor-elect Joyce Craig told NHPR she voted for the fourth option, which features a blue background and a yellow "crown" in the center, the colors chosen to match those of the state’s official flag. That flag was the second-highest vote getter, at a whopping 7 percent.

The final decision of which flag to use moving forward is up to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen, meaning Craig could still lobby for her preferred choice.

Cities and towns across the country have been holding similar flag redesign competitions. The surge in interest is in large part thanks to Roman Mars, host of the popular podcast 99% Invisible, who gave a flag-inspired TED Talk on the virtues of a well-designed flag.

Earlier this year, residents of the city of Laconia staged a similar competition, only to also have the City Council soundly reject the new flag in favor of the current Laconia flag, which was, appropriately enough, selected more than 50 years ago through a competition.