Somersworth is a city in the process of reinventing itself. Since the last city council election in 2013, the city has moved forward with a massive downtown reconstruction project that upgraded roads, sidewalks, and water and sewer infrastructure, and also replaced the bridge between the city’s downtown and neighboring Berwick, Maine.
Much of the work is driven by Vision 2020, a long-term city plan that aims to make Somersworth a Seacoast destination by the end of the decade. The plan has manifested itself in other ways — this year, the city council adopted an ordinance that allows officials to fine property owners who won’t clean up their properties, and another aimed at curbing panhandling in the city. It’s part of a renewed emphasis on the city’s downtown and commercial districts, with officials hoping to attract new businesses that, in turn, will bring younger residents into town.
But like most Seacoast cities, funding those improvements, and other city services, requires a careful balancing act. Somersworth, like Dover and Rochester, has a tax cap that limits city spending by linking tax increases with the regional consumer price index. During this year’s budget process, councilors voted in favor of a tax cap override of $350,000 in order to provide additional funding to the city school system, which lost approximately $800,000 this year after the town of Rollinsford ended a long-standing tuition agreement with the city.
Note: Somersworth city council candidates are listed alphabetically by ward. Incumbent Ward 2 councilor Jennifer Soldati declined to participate in the survey. Incumbent councilor Martin Pepin (Ward 1) did not respond to The Sound’s requests for participation. Update 10/23/15: Ward 3 incumbent councilor Martin Dumont has responded to the survey and his responses have been added to the guide.
Responses were edited and condensed for the print edition of the voter’s guide. Full responses are available here. This is the third in The Sound’s series of voter’s guides for Seacoast cities. A guide for Rochester will appear in print and online on Oct. 28. View our guides for Dover and Portsmouth here.
Where and when to vote
Elections take place on Tuesday, Nov. 3. Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can register to vote at your polling location. Remember: New Hampshire state law requires that you bring a photo ID with you to vote. If you do not have a photo ID, you’ll be required to fill out a “challenged voter affidavit.”
You can find out which ward you live in at the Somersworth city clerk’s website. You can also call the clerk’s office at 603-692-9511. Contact the city clerk’s office for more information. If you’d like to register before election day, contact the city clerk’s office for information.
Ward 1: City Hall, 1 Government Way
Ward 2: Summersworth Historical Society, 157 Main St.
Ward 3: Flanagan Community Center, 25 Bartlett Ave.
Ward 4: Charpentier Apartments, 28 Franklin St.
Ward 5: Romeo J. Messier Building, 218 Main St.
Meet the candidates
City council and school board candidates running in contested races will participate in a forum on Thursday, Oct. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at Somersworth City Hall, 1 Government Way. Sponsored by the Greater Somersworth Chamber of Commerce.
For City Council: