Thursday, October 18, 2007

Heights’ Ward 8 is lone district race ‘Mr. Community’ vies for seat against senior activist

While the municipal election action has been focused on the mayor’s race, and crowded Council and School Board races, shockingly, only one of the 10 district council seats is being contested in the city of Concord. The District 8 seat on the Heights is being vacated by Jim Rowe.

In that race, retired senior citizen activist Ray LaGasse will face off against former Concord Monitor Town Crier and police dispatcher Dick Patten.

Neither is a stranger to community service. Patten has been a Supervisor of Checklists, host of “Around Town” on both radio and cable access, and

a 55 year resident of the Heights. LaGasse is a former state employee and was a member of the New Hampshire Citizens Alliance.

In running for the seat, LaGasse said he would like to promote three specific issues: Doing something creative with the property tax, expanding business and the tax base in the city, and addressing traffic management.

If elected, Patten said he would listen to the concerns of the Heights, study the important issues facing the neighborhoods, and preserve emergency services.

During a recent forum, both candidates agreed that traffic was the most important issue facing the ward.

“We still have not resolved the issues of Loudon Road,” said LaGasse. “Even though Regional Drive was created, the problem still remains.”

Patten agreed.

“Traffic is horrendous,” he said. “It’s congested. It will be my number one priority.”

When asked about the Garvin Falls urban reserve, Patten said he would worry about expanded business traffic but would like to see more jobs created in the area. He also said he thought a new senior center in the area would be a good idea.

“It has a lot of potential if done right,” he said.

LaGasse said he would like to see the city’s master plan completed first and also more affordable housing built in the Garvin Falls area.

When asked about all the money the city was spending on independent studies, LaGasse said looking at the expenditures was overdue.

“We do need careful planning,” he said. “But, I don’t know if we need to replicate surveys.”

Patten wondered why, with so much talent already employed by the city, there was a need for so much outside consulting and studies.

According to the Concord Monitor, the three public safety unions endorsed Patten in the Ward 8 race. In an unusual move, they also requested voters in Ward 4 write-in at-large Council candidate Trisha Dionne against incumbent Dick Lemieux.

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