Claremont City Council At-Large Candidates (You will be voting for 4 seats) Those running include Erica Sweetser, Chris Fazio, Debora Matteau, Bill Kennedy, Abigail Kier (incumbent), Nick Koloski (incumbent), Patrick Lozito.
In Ward 2, James Contois is running against David Pacetti.
The remaining candidates, running unopposed, are as follows: For Mayor, Charlene Lovett; Asst. Mayor, Allen Damren; Ward 1, Andrew O’Hearne; Ward 2, Jonathan Stone.
I was born in Claremont, but lived in other areas as a child, returning to Claremont when I was 13. In order to explain why I want to serve the city I must get slightly personal. Much like the city of Claremont, my life hasn’t been perfect. I spent my twenties in a situation that was not the best, domestic violence. I was very isolated. When I left that situation I found that I wanted and needed to be involved with anything and everything I could. That is when I think I really “found” Claremont. I served on the Board for TLC Family Resource Center. I’ve been involved with a committee for the school district. I have been to countless events regarding early childhood education. I volunteered for Green Dot, a power based violence bystander program. I’ve done training around substance abuse and peer coaching. I have participated in a number of other things around the city, but really I have just been involved with the people of the city. I have a degree in Behavioral Science, with a minor in Family Studies, and am currently working on a Psychology degree with a minor in Business Management. Personally, I love to paint, and have done art projects around the city. I have two jobs right in downtown Claremont, that I absolutely love, that allow me to have the time to do other projects, and that put me in contact with the citizens of Claremont every day. I am also a single parent and I like to think I am a pro at multi tasking!
I will be the first to say that I am remarkably average. I am not a career politician, I have not been through a revolving door of city committees or boards. I do think that to be able to make decisions that will move Claremont forward, positively, one must understand Claremont, understand the people, and listen to the people. I very much feel the need to give back to the city what has been given to me. My biggest priority is to support and encourage downtown as the heart of the city. In order to make property taxes less of a burden on residential owners we have to increase property values and encourage more of a commercial tax base in Claremont. Revitalizing downtown will help with that. I also think that our leaders need to keep goals in mind when making decisions and be able to use critical thinking. I thank you for reading and hope to see you on November 5th. Erica Sweetser City Council Candidate At-Large.
Chris “Garrett” Fazio Chris “Garrett” Fazio—the Garrett is my name I use on the radio. I have been a radio personality here in the area for over 25 years, and I figured more people would recognize the Garrett than the Fazio. I actually moved to Claremont to take a radio job at the old KIXX studios when it was above the old Claremont savings bank. Been here ever since. Bought a house in the Bluff in 1999, raised a family. I have a 21 year old son who is finishing his last year at new England College, and will be getting into law enforcement. I’m running because I have seen my taxes go upwards over the past 25 years, but like most people, feel they aren’t seeing any return. The infrastructure in Claremont is in terrible shape, the taxes are highest in the state, and I’ve been pondering running for a few years, hopefully to bring some of the city’s concerns to the forefront. My issues are taxes, infrastructure, and essential services (police, fire, EMS); while we may not be able to lower taxes, I’m hoping to possibly reallocate them to more pressing needs of the city, instead of frivolous things that we seem to take on that in effect, sees no return on our investment. The streets need to be in better shape, first responders must be given what they need to do their job the best they can. I don’t have all the ideas and answers, but I’m hoping the nine members of the council can work TOGETHER, in one positive direction, to make this city a shining star in the valley.
Debora Matteau I’ve lived in Claremont all of my adult life. I’m married to Denis Matteau, and have raised two children here, and have one grandson. I am currently the general manager of a property management company, I manage all aspects of the company, including a $2.5 million dollar budget. I worked for 13 years for the city in the community development office and as zoning administrator. I am very familiar with the inner workings of city government. I’ve served on the school board, zoning board, and most recently on the Master Plan Steering Committee and City Manager Search Committee. Claremont is home, both my family and my husband’s family go back for generations. I think Claremont is has a lot to offer, and I want to give back to the community and help the city continue to move forward.I feel my background in municipal government and my managerial experience over the last 23 years running a company, would be beneficial to serving effectively on the council. Tax rate stabilization is critical. Short of the State coming up with real solutions to our inequitable and unfair tax structure, we need to do what we can at the local level. The City Council must look at expenditures, very carefully. We need to be as frugal as possible. We need to do what we can to attract and retain good qualified staff at every level. We can’t continue with the high staff turnover. We need to find efficiencies where we can. We need to grow our community. We are slowly seeing the middle class leave Claremont. I know those who were around in the 60s and the 70s remember a booming Claremont with Joy Manufacturing and loads of great paying jobs. Prosperity was everywhere in Claremont. Unfortunately, those days are gone. We need to diversify and attract high paying, clean jobs to Claremont. We need to bring back the middle class. In order to do that, we need to make Claremont a desirable place where young families want to come to to work, live and play. Growing our middle class will help our overall tax base, and ease the burden for all by spreading out the burden to more.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT This must continue to be a strong priority for the City. We have a great Economic Development Director and staff, and we must continue to find innovative ways to attract quality high paying jobs, like Red River and Structural Bridge, to Claremont. We also need to keep in mind that when these sought after employers do their searches determining where they will spend their money. They want good schools for their kids and their employees kids. They want a desirable, vibrant community for their employees to spend their time and raise their families, and they need housing (both rental and single family homes) for their employees to live. We need to continue to strive to make Claremont a desirable place for companies to relocate to, and continue our good work to attract them here.
HOUSING Sullivan County has essentially a zero percent vacancy rate for rental housing. That is not a good thing for a community looking to attract new, younger residents. Claremont lacks quality rentals. That will be a challenge going forward. Claremont also struggles with blighted areas and neighborhoods. This has been an enduring issue for the city over the last few decades. What’s changed? Lack of owner-occupied multi family buildings. In the 50s, 60s, 70s, Claremont rental neighborhoods were not run down like they are today, because most of them had the owners who lived on site. While serving on the Master Plan Housing Committee, I floated an idea of targeting some of these blighted areas with a program to encourage buy in for owner occupants. With rents being as high as they are, many renters can afford mortgage payments, yet fail to qualify for mortgages for lack of adequate credit, or down payments. A program, possibly grant funded, could be developed that would incentivize people to buy in these blighted areas, live there, fix up the property (again possibly with grant funds), with a commitment to stay for a certain number of years. There would need to be an incentive (i.e. mortgage insurance, down payment assistance, rehab help…all of which can be done with grant funding or creating a revolving loan fund) for buyers to take chances on these neighborhood, but eventually with owners living there and taking pride, it would spread. It has worked in other area. It can work here. See my website, debforclaremontcouncil.com.
Bill Kennedy I has been a resident of Claremont for the past 4 years! Since arriving I have participated on the Transportation, Land Use and Housing Chapters of the Claremont Master Plan. I am currently a member of the Historic District Commission, Downtown TIF Advisory Board and the Board of Assessors. Additionally, I am President Elect of the Greater Claremont Board of Realtors, and member of the Claremont Lions, Elks and Legion. I have been a resident of NH since 1968, graduating from UNH in 1982 and completed a 29 year military police career in 2011. I have owned homes in Northwood, Danbury and now Claremont and will be opening a business on Pleasant St in the near future. In addition to the military, I have been an EMT/Firefighter, private investigator and successful business owner currently operating a profitable online business.
I am running for council because I see a need for a non-partisan, community service minded balance on our City’s Council. I bring experience from the military and from my national and global travels that could be beneficial to the council offering an outside perspective to resolving community issues and future plans. I have a vested interest in helping Claremont progress forward because it is now my city! I have the energy, vision and background to help this city progress to the next level having already participated on key city Committees, Commissions and Boards in my short time here. I would offer, in electing me, the citizens of Claremont don’t have an unknown but rather a tested veteran, who has demonstrated qualities of leadership and moral character while already being actively engaged in helping Claremont set priorities for current and future generations.
One of the immediate areas of paramount importance to the city, is fostering a closer relationship with school staffs, School Board and the city while figuring out a permanent solution to the increasing property taxes, which are a significant burden to our homeowners! Being in real estate, I’ve witnessed how the high taxes deter buyers and force our property values lower because of the reduced demand for our properties. Additionally, much of Claremont has fallen into disrepair because of the high taxes and the fear that improvements to homes will drive up assessments and ultimately taxes. Claremont also lacks some of the community features that bring middle income professionals into the market! There is virtually no young professional social culture in our town. Creation of a paved bike/jogging trail, middle income housing, condos and townhomes, more young professional types of entertainment, etc. This does not have to be expensive and would draw the new residents, Claremont needs to reinvigorate the community. Also, a solid focus to lessen the drug and social issues rampant in Claremont is needed. Having been a military policeman and having fought the drug war, I bring insights and experience to address these issues. Lastly, We need to make this a city that people from around the state talk favorably about and use as a template for success! We can do this with a strong council, staff, citizen engagement and focuses on key issues that enhance community pride!
I am a 33-year-old Practice Manager at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. I reside in Claremont with my husband, Matthew, and 2-year-old son, Curtis. I was appointed to a council seat at the end of the 2017 term, and was elected to the At-Large seat for the 2018-2019 term.
I am running for city council because I want to make a difference and because I want there to be representation for young working mothers. I am a firm believer in being the change you want to see and getting involved to make your community better. I have enjoyed my current term on the council and feel there is much I can continue to do to contribute. Issues that are important to me will, of course, include the city budget. I think it is important to try our best to strike the balance of a level budget while allocating resources appropriately where they will do the most good. I also think that as a body that is in charge of policy, we need to be sure our policies are up to date and reflect how we want our city to function; so continued work on updating and creating policies would be very important to me.
Overall, I think it is important for the council to be open-minded and creative; we need to be able to look to laws and best practices and then try to find the best way things will work for our unique community (obviously within the law.) I believe in community, civility, and integrity and that’s what I’m running to represent.
Nick Koloski My name is Nicholas J. Koloski. I am 4th generation in this community. I co-own a local restaurant, Time-Out Americana Grill and operate a family amusement attraction. I also am a volunteer firefighter in Ascutney, VT, and have been for over 20 years. I’m approaching 10 years as a call firefighter on the Claremont Fire Department. I always have many irons in the fire, including my continued work on TV and film, having 12 film credits on various productions. I work very well under pressure and have no issue standing up for this community and what I feel is right. Claremont is my home and I am proud to say that. I have served on many boards and commissions. I was a 4 term member for the New Hampshire Film Commission and served on a New Hampshire Governors Task Force. I am running for City Council to continue to bring a level of common sense and business approach to local affairs we deal with as a City. In my 10 years of service as a City Councilor I have missed 2 meetings. I take citizen concerns and the responsibility of being your voice and representative seriously. I’ve not let an elected seat change who I am as a person. I am still the same approachable friend and neighbor that addresses your concerns. My experience on boards and commissions gives me a tremendous level of local knowledge. I pride myself on my ability to be vocal and well researched while being a voice for the people. A top priority is tax relief for our citizens. Councils need to be mindful of taxes while increasing the tax base with new development. Continuing to recruit new investment and development is a top priority. This can and should be done without driving folks from their homes. A close working relationship with the school board is important. We have 2 budgets in this community to watch. The school budget and the city budget. Both have needs that come from the same pocket, Yours and mine. We can’t drive hard-working folks from their homes with wants but can continue to smartly fund the needs of the community. During my tenure, I fought for the acceptance of credit cards by the City. It is about being users friendly and providing common convenience to our businesses and citizens. I was key in stopping landlords from being awarded local welfare dollars for dilapidated unsafe housing. I was key in not allowing local tenants to fall victim to false eviction while landlords retained city-issued rents and security deposits. I was able to research the issue and bridge the communication gap between various departments. We now have a unified city approach and safer housing stock via the forced welfare assistance inspection program. I was key in the battle of allowing departments to utilize social media. I have the ability to be your voice and get the job done. I would appreciate your vote on Nov. 5th. Thank you.
I spent most of my life working and living in NY. I have experience working in customer service providing services to the NY City Police Department, Aerospace Manufacturing Industry and recently working for Whelen Engineering in Charlestown, NH. Living in NY City exposed me to a lot of different people and cultures. When my wife and I moved to Claremont, we found it to be a nice small city that has a lot of history, a lot of potential, and so we decided to live here. As an older resident who has lived in other places I feel I can bring some new perspectives and objectivity to issues that I have seen in the time of living in Claremont. If elected, I would like to be the voice of other seniors and be their representative on the council.
If the people of Claremont elect me, I would work at keeping taxes where they are, look at possible solutions for fixing roads, and advocate for consolidation of services. In addition I would also support keeping Claremont’s Downtown as our historic center and furthering its revitalization.
Do I think the city could do a better job cutting some cost? Yes! Have I thought about the rising cost of taxes since moving to Claremont and retiring? All the time! No one who has worked hard all their life should be faced with excessive taxation to point of being forced out of their home. Bringing in more and better paying jobs would be a good boost to the local economy. Do I think Claremont will see the same type of industry it once had? No, that type of industry no longer exists.. Claremont needs look at new industries such as IT and other cutting edge technologies that are more viable in today market place. This will not be an easy road, but the members of the council need to focus on improving conditions, working with the schools, the county, improving the roads and other outdated infrastructure. I think Mayor Lovett has done a great job addressing the issues of lead contamination in Claremont and she has been very passionate about it.
It would be essential to clearly define exactly what the city council is empowered to do and what it is not. From the past years events it should be clear that the city council should keep a watchful eye on the city manager and, when necessary intervene to prevent actions that are or may be a conflict of interest, unethical, or obviously a quid pro quo.
I would review all programs and works of the city to find out where the funding came from, how and where it was spent and objectively analyze the result.
Two candidates filed for the Ward 2 seat: Jim Contois and David Pacetti.
Jim Contois I was born and raised in Albany, NY. I have a B.A. from the State University at Albany, in Political Science. I am married for 44 years to Rebecca MacKenzie, and we have two children and four grandchildren. I am retired from the Department of Defense, after 26 years as a civilian employee. We moved to Claremont in 2004 to care for an ailing family member. When we moved to Claremont, I decided to make public service my career and for the past 15 years I have worked running homeless shelters, I was a contract tracker for juvenile justice, a teaching assistant in SAU 6, a research interviewer for the U.S. Department of Education, a family service coordinator for Pathways and currently I am the Interim Director for the Claremont Senior Center. I serve on the Claremont Planning Board, I am the treasurer for the Claremont Historical Society, and I am active in my church, Grace River. I have a confession to make. I love Claremont. When we moved here, I was welcomed into the community and this has become my home. This is where I live, where I work and where I have built a new life and become established in a faith community. I am running for the Claremont City Council to help guide the city in a positive direction. My main concerns are that the council move forward with fairness, transparency, inclusion, civility and accountability. I am concerned with fairness when I see that while we provide thousands of dollars for merit pay staff raises, the workers at the bottom of the wage scale are at the federal minimum wage, $7.25. Appalling. I am concerned about transparency. Recently, a Construction and Demolition facility was planned to be built 1000 yards from Maple Avenue School with harmful lead, mercury and asbestos exposure to our vulnerable school children and over 300 homes downwind from the dust. Hours before the public hearing, I began contacting local citizens and I walked the Maple Avenue neighborhood to notify people. Many of the people I contacted worked with me and we started a group, A Better Claremont (firstname.lastname@example.org) to fight this proposal. Currently, this harmful project is on hold, but we remain vigilante and we will oppose any facility that runs contrary to the public good as outlined in the city’s Master Plan. I am concerned with inclusion and civility. Most of us are aware that during the past year a council member has used social media to harass a family that held a different viewpoint on the Christmas display in the park. Accountability must be established, and I want to help. After a racial incident occurred in 2017, I have worked with a racial healing group that is working with the school district and holding public forums on inclusion, civility and healing. Claremont is a great place to live and work and I want to be part of the action. I believe that I can use YOUR city council position with your help to help Claremont move forward.
I am 53 and have lived in Claremont my entire life. Currently employed at Whelen Engineering.
I sit on the Planning Board. I was on the Board of Directors as Vice Chairman for the JSL for 15+ years.
Some of the important issues are 1) Transparency in city Govt. 2) Taxes 3) Fixing The infrastructure and along with that generating new revenue to pay for it. 4) Bringing manufacturing and its jobs back into the city. Solving the cities housing issues. As a planning board member we are currently working towards the housing issues Claremont is currently facing.
One Idea is to try and get more people involved in the process of moving the city forward. Get people to share their ideas with the council to solve the problems the city faces.
Claremont Municipal Election November 5th, 2019
Polls are open from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Ward 1: Claremont Middle School –
107 South Street
Ward 2: Claremont Middle School –
107 South Street
Ward 3: Disnard Elementary School –
160 Hanover Street
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