Another View: Mayor Joyce Craig — Proud to make difference, yet challenges remain

A LITTLE OVER 15 months ago, I took the oath of office as mayor of Manchester. During that time, I’ve worked hard to empower residents across our city to think big, confront our challenges and engage with our community.

And I’m proud that we’re making a real difference in helping our residents lead better lives, with stronger schools, a healthier and safer community, good jobs and a growing economy, all while protecting our city’s bottom line and respecting the tax cap.

Manchester is on the move, and there’s a spirit and energy you can feel across our great city as people are stepping forward and working together — including businesses, non-profits, and residents — to address the challenges we face.

I’m running for mayor in 2019 because this spirit of non-partisan, common-sense problem solving is delivering results that make our city stronger.

We know that a high-quality education for all of our students is critical for our community.

Through the community efforts of Manchester Proud, our district will soon have the first-ever, community-based strategic plan to ensure the highest quality education for all of our students — funded completely from the generosity of local businesses and civic leaders.

As a city, we recognize the great work our schools and teachers do every day to educate our children. But we also know there’s more we can and must be doing.

In our work to strengthen our schools, our district was awarded the highly competitive GEAR UP grant. This grant, $10.5 million over seven years, will ensure students are prepared to succeed in college. In this year, these funds will be used to hire additional guidance counselors at every middle school, to provide professional development opportunities to our teachers, and to host summer camps focused on building trades, STEM and MST programming. All at no cost to local taxpayers.

We also worked with Velcro Companies to develop Velcro University, an innovative workforce development program that exposes West High students to the skills they’ll need in the workforce, as well as technical training, to better equip them for life after graduation. Because of the success of this program, we’re partnering with Eversource to develop Eversource Academy at Central High School this fall.

In addition, we’ve partnered with the Granite United Way — and thanks to the generosity of the Stebbins family — to bring the nationally recognized leadership program, “The Leader in Me” to every single school on the West Side. This evidence-based program empowers students with leadership and life skills and will have a positive impact on West Side students of all ages.

The opioid epidemic has placed a burden on our community and has affected families across our city. In the face of this challenge, our firefighters and emergency service personnel stepped up and developed the life-saving program, Safe Station. When I took office, it took someone who walked into Safe Station two to three weeks to get into treatment. Today, as a result of our collaborative efforts, it takes two to three days. In addition, in 2018 Manchester saw a 19 percent decrease in opioid overdoses and a 22 percent decrease in overdose deaths — the very first time we’ve seen a decrease in overdoses since this epidemic began.

Addressing the challenge of homelessness is a priority for our community. When I took office, there was no plan in place. We’ve since created the Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness, which consists of people across Manchester, including businesses and members of the faith community. Together, we’re enacting programs and policies to address panhandling and increase homeless services, capacity, and prevention.

Our city’s police department works hard every day to keep our city safe, and through their great efforts, our city again saw a decrease in crime in 2018.

In the last year, great things have happened in Manchester because we worked together.

For the first time ever, the City of Manchester partnered with the state to develop a comprehensive proposal which resulted in the expansion of BAE Systems into Manchester, along with up to 800 new, high-paying jobs.

Our Millyard is thriving and continues to be recognized nationally and internationally as a hub of innovation and technology. And we’re seeing new development all across the city — including our partnership with the Palace Theatre to renovate the Rex Theatre, which will soon add a 300-seat dynamic entertainment venue to our downtown.

All of these things were possible because we worked to create a culture of collaboration within the Mayor’s Office and across city government. From holding office hours in every ward, to raising the Pride Flag at City Hall for the first time, to increasing diversity on local boards and commissions, I am dedicated to continuing to make Manchester a welcoming place for all people.

While we have made great progress, there’s more we must do to keep making our city a better place.

It is an honor to be your mayor. I’m energized by the collaborative efforts across our city and ask for your continued support to serve another term as Mayor of Manchester.

To read the original post in the Union Leader, click here

Joyce Craig for Manchester
P.O. Box 3893
Manchester, NH 03105