Weekly Newsletter
Claremont's Municipal Election is
Tuesday, November 5th!
Polls are open from 8am-7pm
Additional Election Information including documents needed to register to vote and sample ballots are available online here .
Candidates Q&A
All Candidates running for Mayor, Assistant Mayor, and City Council were invited to attend the Meet the Candidates evening on Friday, November 1st. Prior to the event they were also invited to answer the following questions that were displayed at the event and created by the GCCC Board of Directors.
What do you hope to accomplish as a member of the city council?
“To work together as one entity to make Claremont the best it can be.”
-Chris "Garrett" Fazio

“Continue to be a voice for people and address their concerns.”
-Nicholas J. Koloski

“Move Claremont forward and modernize without taking away from its Historic and Cultural flavor!”-Bill Kennedy

“I am specifically working on fairness, transparency and civility. I expect to listen to citizen concerns and provide input to the council as to what the people in Ward II are hoping to accomplish through me.”-James M. Contois

“I hope to continue to represent the young professional with innovative ideas while also focusing on the important foundational topics. I hope to advocate for the continuation of the Finance Committee and the Policy Committee as they are essential to the efficient running of our Council as well as add a level of quality and research that have been lacking.”-Abigail Kier

“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. As far as looking to change procedures, commissioner appointments, and city ordinance I would have to defer until I have more information and address them on an individual basis.” -Patrick Lozito

“Working with the Council, I would like to ensure that our current policies are reviewed and updated, and develop policies that are needed to promote economic growth and investment. Working with the Claremont School Board, I would like the two governing bodies to collaborate on initiatives that maximize every tax dollar, promote the city as a whole and improve community wellness. Finally, I will continue to advocate for Claremont on at both the state and federal level, advocating for resources that are critical to our ability to achieve the goals outlined in our Master Plan.”-Charlene Lovett

“Continue emphasizing infrastructure funding needs; foster positive working relationship with our new city manager; through our finance committee continue to examine revenue and expenditures for any needed change or enhancement; and continue good relations with county, state and federal officials. The first two listed are my first priorities.”-Allen Damren

“I really hope to engage citizens in our city. I would like to not just focus on negative issues, but encourage positivity.”-Erica Sweetser

“To utilize my experience in business and also past experience working in City Hall to help move Claremont forward, in hopes of growing our city, attracting and building the middle class and lowering the tax rate.”-Deb Matteau
Do you think our downtown is healthy and successful?
If yes, please include examples. If not, what would you do to change it?
“No, Too many vacancies, necessary upgrades and beautification needed! Town police presence (walking or on bikes)!”-Bill Kennedy

“I think our Downtown is amazing! There are many businesses that have been long-standing staples, and there are others that are new and thriving. Our downtown has food, entertainment, arts and culture, as well as expanding living options. I think there is always room to improve and add quality, but I think we need to notice how much we have in our Downtown.”-Abigail Kier

“Having know two people that had businesses downtown, the problem is being able to run a business profitably while satisfying all the local regulation requirements and overhead costs. This is not news to anyone who has run a business. If a business could offer a unique service or goods that would make it worthwhile for someone to go what is now "out of their way downtown", and the business be profitable, they would stand a chance.”-Patrick Lozito

“I think parts of our downtown are healthy and successful. We have some really great restaurants and locally owned shops that do quite well. I work at two businesses downtown, and I also live downtown, and can see the great potential for more. I can also see the problems we face. I think that revitalizing Pleasant St will be positive for the city. I would like to see downtown protected and supported. We do have issues with graffiti, vandalism, substance use, etc. downtown, and we need ordinances and the enforcement of those to help downtown. I would love to see more citizens walking around downtown and I don't think that will happen unless we address the negative behaviors happening downtown. Just because Pleasant St is a flat street it does not mean it is "walkable" and "welcoming". We have great architecture downtown, wonderful family owned businesses, room for more, we should be encouraging downtown as much as possible.”-Erica Sweetser

“Somewhat, certainly it is better now than a few years ago. Friday night traffic, although geared toward our restaurants, is noticeably larger. And having many options for dining downtown is much better than it was some years ago. With all of that said, we need to evaluate any plans for downtown after the Goddard Block is completed and is open. Our downtown does not have a unique signature- by that I mean public art, wider sidewalks for walking through downtown. I am anxious to receive a presentation from planning and development regarding the work done by our consultant for downtown plans. Many community members contributed their thoughts and ideas through working groups to our consultant. Now, what's the end result.”-Allen Damren

“In the last several years, there has been a significant amount of investment in the downtown area. The Main Street reconstruction project was completed. The Claremont MakerSpace opened. The building housing the Red Barn Café was totally refurbished. The Ink Factory relocated to a mill building which they completely renovated. Currently, two buildings on Opera House Square are being renovated to expand the Claremont Dental Initiative and house the West Claremont Center of the Arts. Over $11M has been invested in the Goddard Block to create 36 newly constructed, lead free apartments. We have embarked on the process of redesigning the downtown area, investing approximately $200,000 in the visioning/engineering phase. All of this demonstrates a clear focus and commitment on revitalizing the downtown area. Offering quality housing, businesses and activities that draw people to the downtown area will be key to a vibrant and prosperous City Center. So, while much has been down to help achieve a healthy and successful downtown, we are not there yet. The Council needs to focus on ensuring we have policies in place that incentivize investment and development, and support the businesses that already exist. We also need to continue advocating for funding that will provide the resources to accomplish these goals.”-Charlene Lovett

“This is a yes and no answer. Each time I am asked a question I analyze my answer using a template of gratitude. What am I grateful for? Our downtown is supported by many successful businesses and I am grateful for those entrepreneurs that are gambling on success for themselves and the city. We have over 125 business in the Chamber of Commerce from insurance, realty agencies, banks, restaurants, financial services, unique shops and markets. When each of these businesses is successful then so are we, the citizens of Claremont successful. Can we do better, maybe not, can we do it differently, maybe? In my lifetime, during the 60's and 70's the downtown flourished. I would like to see a new, thriving and bustling downtown.”-James M. Contois

“I believe there are some amazing businesses located there. I do think the area needs some serious help. There are currently public input events that are shaping downtown and the overall health, design and best practices through a firm and money approved in the budget from prior years. It is a community focal point and I'm sure based on the public interest in those meetings and the level of attendance it will be something that the community will hold dear.”-Nicholas J. Koloski

“Our downtown has flourished over the past few years, with new, small businesses occupying more space on Pleasant Street, but it's not nearly enough. We need to figure out more ways to entice new business, large and small to come to Claremont.”-Chris "Garrett" Fazio

“In my opinion, our downtown and mill district are one of Claremont's biggest assets, along with our citizens. I believe the path the city is taking now to rethink the downtown is a good one. We need flexible regulations that will also help to encourage development and investment. We need unique experiences and shops to draw people in to downtown. We are on the right path, but we have a way to go. Claremont's downtown used to be a regional draw...I think it can be again.”-Deb Matteau
What concerns do you have for our city?
What steps are you going to take to resolve/address these concerns?
“Our high tax rate is one of greatest challenges. If I am elected to the city council I will carefully review each and every expenditure request and its impact on the tax rate. however, I don't favor slashing spending radically. Every expense we make needs to be working toward goals in our master plan, and to eventually growing our city, and middle class. The more taxpayers in Claremont, the lower burden for taxpayers.”-Deb Matteau

“My main concerns are infrastructure, taxes, and essential services (Fire, Police, etc) as well as the schools. We need to focus on re-allotting tax dollars to fix our roads, make sure essential services are taken care of, and we need to together figure out a way to lower the school tax rate, without losing necessary essential services.”-Chris "Garrett" Fazio

“I'm concerned that people are driven from their homes by the tax burden. I have worked to be a voice for those people when they feel they have none. We have two separate budgets here. City and School. Those in elected positions on either of those boards need to be mindful that all of that still comes from one pocket, yours and mine. Lessening the property tax burden should be the number one goal while still providing the services the citizens need and rely upon.”-Nicholas J. Koloski

“Property taxes bleeding long standing residents and middle class. Look at alternatives and conduct financial oversight. Drug and social problems higher than many towns...look at implementing alternative strategies and have town work with charities!”-Bill Kennedy

“When I talk to the people of Claremont, the first thing that is mentioned is property tax and then our schools. These are my concerns also. We need to understand that our tax rate is the highest in the state. A state that is very wealthy. We need more balance in the distribution of state income. Out tax rate is $42.08 per thousand: $15.27 for the city and $21.87 for schools with the balance going to state education funding and county taxes. The school is given many unfunded mandates to comply with in educating our children but both the state and federal governments are reluctant to pay their fair share. I will advocate as a voter and a member of the council to lobby state and federal officials for appropriate funding. I would also like to be clear that I believe that the city is doing the best that they can do with the funding they have. Do our roads and schools need work? Yes, but everywhere I look I see the city and the school working hard with the resources they have to repair roads, maintain sewers, build sidewalks, repair and replace school roofing and windows. Our city workers and school staffs are working hard on our behalf and we need to help them and be proud of what they are accomplishing.”-James M. Contois

“There are both short-term and long-term concerns that I have for our city. I think short term (and long term) finances are very important. We need to be sure we are funding things appropriately to mitigate any further cost in the future, and we also need to be sure we are having as level-funded a budget as possible. It's a hard balance, but one our Council needs to make a priority. I am also concerned for our long-term longevity both in terms of climate change effects (power availability/pricing, etc) and in terms of our population. New Hampshire is the number three state with the oldest median age (42.7) which indicates we have a surplus of baby boomers and a shortage of young adults. Attracting young adults back to NH will be essential to our continued growth and prosperity, and it should be important for the Council to look at how our Policies can help to affect this.”-Abigail Kier

“Like all cities, large and small, crime, drug use and addiction, ever increasing taxes and the quality of life are our main concerns. Claremont was a different place when we bought our house in 2001. I would scrutinize the polices and spending, then and now, and look for the cause and effect.”-Patrick Lozito

“I am concerned about our limited tax base and the fact that our average household income falls below the state average. I am concerned about issues relating to the health and wellness of our community. I am also concerned about how we are perceived as a community. So, with regard to the tax base and income levels, we need to focus on development and we are making progress. Since we lost approximately $100M in city valuation in 2014, we have regained about 20M. This is critical to reducing the tax rate. Regarding health and wellness, the Council has to work with all stakeholders to ensure that we are creating a framework that provides equitable opportunity for all residents to participate and thrive in our community. Finally, we need to build pride in our community for who we are, what we have achieved, and what we hope to accomplish. It will never be perfect and there will always be challenges, but there are a lot of people committed to this community and we need to capitalize on our strengths.”-Charlene Lovett

“There is no doubt in my mind that our forward progress is to a large degree dependent on receiving appropriate amounts of state aid and receiving this aid consistently. Up and down levels of state aid mean that any planning is done on a short-term, not long term, basis. Our tax rate is too high and the emphasis should be on attracting businesses to our city to expand our base and grow. Remembering the past, let's not become dependent on one large business, but rather make sure we have a diversified base. This won't be done overnight, so to begin we should continue to be at the state and federal tables and continue being out in front of business and industry groups.”-Allen Damren

“The obvious answer is taxes, property taxes. We have to find ways to make the tax burden more bearable for residents and show more for our tax dollars. I would like to see our commercial tax base increased. I would like to see more residents involved in city affairs. This does not have to mean only going to council meetings. At one point when I was cleaning up graffiti I got some kiddos to help me. I kept thinking that these kids will have pride in what they did, they were involved with their community. There are so many ways to engage people and get them involved. I would like to spend time with all city departments to be able to understand the issues each face.”-Erica Sweetser
If elected, what specific steps would you take to put our city in a better financial status?
“Face lift...Incentivize home improvements, internal audits and improvement recommendation rewards! Implement good cost effective ideas!”-Bill Kennedy

“We need to attract, hire and retain the best qualified professionals to lead our city, starting with a city manager, and all the way down through all the department heads. The City Council does not do the day to day work of creating projects and solutions to our city problems, the city manager and his/her staff does. The City Council are lay people and are presented with proposals and review and approve (or not) those plans. I believe in being frugal. Every expense needs to be analyzed.”-Deb Matteau

“First and foremost, taxes. While we may not be able to LOWER taxes, I am hoping we can together, find other useful ways our tax dollars can be allocated, instead of ways that do not benefit the residents of Claremont.”-Chris "Garrett" Fazio

“If reelected I would continue to focus on not increasing city spending. We must also continue to recruit and encourage business expansion, development and recruitment of additional housing stock which will decrease the overall tax burden.”-Nicholas J. Koloski

“This is a difficult question. We need to have a city planning department that is favorable to business that promote citizens health and well being. We need to reject harmful ideas while encouraging business. I would like to become involved in the finances of the city through the council. We need to continue on the path of right choices. Our state as well as our city does not have a spending problem but an income problem, especially in the way state resources are distributed to towns and cities. NH is ranked 7th in median household income in the US yet we continue to struggle with infrastructure and school funding. Questions need to be asked and politicians held accountable. Claremont needs a fair share.”-James M. Contois

“I would like for the City to continue and expand its use of asset management tools. It is essential for budgeting to understand all of our assets as well as costs. Utilizing an asset management system could help us to understand our timelines for replacement of resources much better, which in turn would assist with long term financial planning. As mentioned earlier, it is so important for us to invest in our infrastructure and where it is needed to reduce costs down the road while trying to maintain a level budget.”-Abigail Kier
“I want to see the books! I would want to know where the money came from and where did it go and what strings are attached. I have no conflict of interest in seeking this position. I am a taxpayer like everyone else and I would work for the benefit of the citizens of Claremont”-Patrick Lozito

“While we can do more to reduce operational expenses, it will not be enough to provide the resources for the investments that need to be made in Claremont or provide meaningful relief to the taxpayer. So, we need to do two things. Implement policies that provide financial opportunity, and aggressively seek and advocate for outside funding. For example, several years ago the Council adopted several policies that directly impacted our Moody rating. We also adopted 79-E which offered development opportunities. Because of our collective efforts to advocate for state funding, we recently received $6.2M. More efforts are going into seeking grants. So, while we are not where we want to be financially, things are improving and we will continue to build on that momentum.” -Charlene Lovett

“We continue to be hamstrung by the downtown TIFF district, with general fund taxes subsidizing a portion of each years loss. There needs to be a workout plan developed. Certain unfinished projects continue to just sit undone.” -Allen Damren

“As someone who hasn't served on the city council before I would concentrate on educating myself as to the inner workings of the city. In order to help anything one must understand it.” - Erica Sweetser
What do you see as our top three things that would make a business want to open/move here and/or an individual/family live here?
“Middle class and professional housing options, Incentivize taxes, improve infrastructure (cell, Internet, utility options)”-Bill Kennedy

“1. Lower taxes 2. Better education opportunities 3. A more welcoming and involved community”-Erica Sweetser

“Seeing continued work being done regarding our infrastructure. For visitors, roads are the first thing they notice- they need to present Claremont as a city that takes care of its assets. Remove blighted structures. Again presenting Claremont as a city taking care of itself and its assets. I know continued workforce training and housing need to be addressed, but I would also include determining what is going to be done to set our downtown apart from others and to truly put a distinctive brand on Claremont. And by the way, what is Claremont's brand?” -Allen Damren

“Claremont is a desirable place for a business when the elements exist to achieve profit. So, overhead needs to be reasonable, workers need to be available and a customer base needs to exist. For individuals/family, Claremont needs to be affordable, a place of opportunity (both educational and employment), and a place of creativity.” -Charlene Lovett

“Regarding a business: A business, to be successful, needs to know what the cost of doing business will be and not be blindsided by a sudden "correction" in it's taxes, fees, or regulations. A business needs a competent work force. A business needs low overhead costs.
Regarding a family/individual: We moved to New Hampshire for the "New Hampshire Advantage." We moved here for a quality of life that was far and away better than New York, low taxes, low crime and, most of all, good people. To maintain that and have it flourish would be best for Claremont.” -Patrick Lozito

“Contrary to what people say, we have a beautiful town overall. Sure there are problems, but what town doesn't need fixing? I originally moved here for employment. If we can offer more jobs, affordable housing, and lower (hopefully) taxes, I could see Claremont become a popular destination. For businesses and individuals.”-Chris “Garrett” Fazio

“Trained workforce, good schools, and quality, affordable housing. We lack on all three of those areas.” -Deb Matteau
“1) Our community. While there can be disagreements among citizens our community is quite amazing. Never have I ever lived in a community that is so welcoming, generous, and fun. There are so many events and ways to get involved and there are so many people who care about their city.
2) Housing. While I know this may be a point of contention for some folks, this was one of the reasons I chose to move to Claremont. The community was great, the town was cute, and the housing was very affordable. Claremont is a wonderful community to work in, and it is a wonderful bedroom community for other large cities north of us.
3) Amenities. Claremont has all you could want! We have amazing dining options, arts and entertainment, as well as many shopping options. We also have great options of available land for companies to relocate to and our City employees do a great job of working with new interested parties. I can also do all of my errands within 2 miles of my house which is not common in our area, and it is something that is a great draw.” -Abigail Kier

“Location, a viable marketplace and a base of customers for business to thrive. The Chamber of Commerce's mission is to promote and meet the needs of business and industry and to create the best community in which to live, work and do business. We all need to look for good ideas and get behind the chamber, the city and civic organizations that promote our city. I moved here from another state 15 years ago and I have a nice home and I have been able to find adequate employment when I wanted it. For people who want to live here, we need to make the city affordable, we need better education funding and we need property tax relief. We need to get out and vote and make all levels of government financially accountable to the people. All of these things can only help Claremont thrive.” -James M. Contois

“The Master plan surveys that were filled out and all of the feedback I get indicates, decreased tax burden, healthy vibrant community and recreational opportunities on the individual/family side. On the business side that is different. Workforce, housing stock and lower tax rate.” -Nicholas J. Koloski
Additional Comments
“I’ve lived in Claremont for nearly 50 years, all of my adult life. It’s home. I am very pro Claremont and will bring integrity, hard work, and experience to the City Council. I want Claremont to continue to move forward, but also believe tax rate stabilization is important. Let me bring my many years of experience and knowledge of our great city to work for you. I would appreciate your vote for City Council.”-Deb Matteau

“I was planning on retiring after this current term I am in. 10 years of 3 to 5-hour nighttime meetings, other boards and commissions duties and daytime events take a toll on one's life. When I made that decision public I had an overwhelming amount of visits, calls, and emails asking me to reconsider. It was the phone call I got from a senior citizen that moved me to tears. The question asked of me was who's gonna look out for me, us? I didn't know what to say. I have given up a lot of my life to this community by choice. I don't mind being a very loud voice for those who feel they have none. My answer to that question now is me. I will continue to if its the will of the people.” -Nicholas J. Koloski

“I love Claremont and I want to be a part of the success that is to come. I want to contribute in guiding the city to the best place it can possibly be. Claremont is a fine place to live and work. Together we can improve it to become the city we envision.”-James M. Contois

“I am very excited about all the people running for Council this term. I think it is a sign of a strong community when there are so many people willing to volunteer their time to make where they live better. I would be excited to represent Claremont in serving another term and hope to be chosen to.”-Abigail Kier

“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!” -Bill Kennedy