As filing deadline nears, a contested race emerges for Concord mayor

  • Byron Champlin. Courtesy

  • Kate West in East Concord. GEOFF FORESTER

  • Concord parent and activist Kate West is one of three candidates running for Concord Mayor. Courtesy photo

Monitor staff
Published: 9/14/2023 6:04:40 PM

With just two days left to file to run in the upcoming Concord election, the city has a contested race for mayor.

Former school board member Kate West and newcomer George Jack filed to run against current At-Large City Councilor Byron Champlin to replace outgoing Mayor Jim Bouley, who announced he would not be running for reelection after 16 years as the city’s top elected official. 

On the first day of filing, Champlin was in the City Hall filing his paperwork. He said he was encouraged by community members, family, friends and other city councilors to run.

On Wednesday, West joined the race. On Thursday, Jack made it a three-way contest.

West said she wants to be a voice of equity for the city.

“I really want to continue the work and have the opportunity to create positive change in our community,” West said Thursday. “I do have a unique perspective because I am a renter, I was unhoused, I am dependent on public transportation, I don’t own property and I don’t make six figures.”

West was removed from her seat on the Concord School Board in January because she was living with friends after she was evicted. The school board decided she could no longer represent her district due to her housing situation, a position West disagreed with.

If elected as mayor, West said she will focus on breaking down systemic barriers for members of marginalized communities while continuing to advocate for them and give them a voice at the table, themes she worked toward on the school board. 

“I understand that I don’t have experience as a City Councilor but I was on the School Board in Concord and I have been an advocate in our community for a long time with Change for Concord and other organizations and I do think those are experiences that serve as a foundation in my ability to serve in this position,” she said.

So far, city voters will see contested races for mayor, at-large city councilor, two school board seats, and in Wards 2, 6, 8, 9 and 10.

Incumbents Brent Todd (Ward 1), Jennifer Kretovic (Ward 3), Karen McNamara (Ward 4), Stacey Brown (Ward 5), Keith Nyhan (Ward 7) and Zandra Rice Hawkins (Ward 10) and Nathan Fennessy (At-Large) all filed to run again.

Michele Horne and Rob Kliener will face each other in Ward 2. Jay Belyea and Paula McLaughlin will vie for the Ward 6 seat. Ali Sekou and Dennis Soucy will square off in Ward 8. Kris Shultz and Andrew Georgevitz will compete in Ward 9. In Ward 10, incumbent Rice Hawkins will face a challenge fro newcomer Jeff Foote.

In addition to Fennessy, Taylor Hall, Matthew Hicks, Judith Kurtz and Kevin Porter all filed to run for two at-large seats

Hall has previously run for mayor while Hicks is an educator and state representative. Kurtz, the board vice president of the Concord Greenspace Coalition, and Porter, a community development professional, have been active in council meetings as joint advocates for DEIJB efforts within the city.  

In Ward 8, Sekou, an immigrant of Niger with experience and education in economic development, will be running against Soucy, who has run unsuccessfully in the past for both state and city government positions.

Though most city councilors confirmed they were running for reelection, Ward 2 Councilor Erle Pierce, Ward 8 Councilor Gail Matson and Ward 9 Councilor Candace Bouchard announced they were stepping down.

The filing period will be open until the end of business Monday. Interested candidates can file at Concord City Hall on Green Street or the school district offices on Liberty Street.

On the school side, incumbent Brenda Hastings is the only candidate who filed to run in School Voting Zone C (Wards 8, 9, 10) which is one of three seats up for re-election. 

Newcomers Robert Avery, Jessica Campbell and Michael Guglielmo filed for School Voting Zone A, (Wards 1, 2, 3 & 4) a seat currently held by Thomas Croteau. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Boucher and G. Bruce West filed for School Voting Zone B, (Wards 5, 6 & 7), a seat currently held by Jonathan Weinberg, who said he is not running for reelection. 

Guglielmo made headlines in March when he attended a school board meeting dressed as Julius Caesar as he denounced the gender-fluid fashion choices of a male Christa McAuliffe elementary school art teacher. The teacher filed and later withdrew a restraining order against Guglielmo, who he called intimidating, aggressive and homophobic. 

If elected to school board positions, members will serve a three-year term beginning in January 2024. 

Candidates for city and school offices can declare at the City Clerk’s office at City Hall or the school district offices until  Monday. The filing fee is $5. 

Elections will take place on Tuesday, November  7.  

Jamie Costa

Jamie Costa joined the Monitor in September 2022 as the city reporter covering all things Concord, from crime and law enforcement to City Council and county budgeting. She graduated from Roger Williams University (RWU) in 2018 with a dual degree in journalism and Spanish. While at RWU, Costa covered the 2016 presidential election and studied abroad in both Chile and the Dominican Republic where she reported on social justice and reported on local campus news for the university newspaper, The Hawks' Herald. Her work has also appeared in The *Enterprise *papers and the *Cortland Standard *and surrounding Central New York publications. Costa was born and raised on Cape Cod and has a love for all things outdoors, especially with her dog.

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