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Apr. 15—Now there are two.
The number of candidates officially in the running to become mayor of Manchester in 2021 doubled Thursday, as former at-large school board member Rich Girard announced his candidacy.
Girard joins former state Rep. Victoria Sullivan in the pool of official candidates, after the 2019 mayoral candidate announced her intention to run again on Monday.
Incumbent Mayor Joyce Craig has yet to declare whether she will seek a third term in office, though a decision is expected in the coming weeks.
Girard launched an exploratory committee a few weeks ago following news reports of his interest in running. Citing positive feedback from those news stories and feedback collected through a survey at his website, Girard believes the time is right for a run, saying it's "past time for the city of Manchester to get a handle on the many and serious issues that have festered and worsened in recent years."
"Manchester's facing serious issues that threaten its quality of life and viability as a community," Girard said. "It's clear from the feedback in our survey that people are worried and believe the city is headed fast in the wrong direction. After thirty years of involvement with city issues and government, I believe I bring a unique combination of knowledge, experience and skills that will enable me to lead on the issues facing the city and just simply get some important things done."
Democrats didn't delay in going after Girard. New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley said that in less than a week "two of the most laughable, extreme, out-of-touch candidates" will "race to the fringe" against Craig.
"This time we have Rich Girard, who voters roundly rejected two decades ago, and is now planning to run again in a race he will almost certainly lose," said Buckley. "He engaged in voter fraud conspiracy theories, he has defended anti-trans discrimination, he wants to defund our public schools, and has spread dangerous anti-mask, anti-public health disinformation. All in all, he is a fringe right-wing candidate who doesn't deserve anyone's time or attention."
New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman Stephan Stepanek said the emergence of two opponents indicates Craig has "repeatedly failed the people of Manchester."
"The New Hampshire Republican Party will work with the Manchester GOP to educate Manchester voters as to how taxes, crime, and homelessness has skyrocketed under Mayor Craig's crippling leadership," Stepanek said. "Granite Staters will surely hold her accountable this November, and we look forward to electing the Republican candidate Manchester primary voters choose to support in their run against her."
Girard said between now and the candidate filing period in July he will release detailed plans and proposals designed to "fix what's broken" and help the city "overcome its many challenges."
Girard, 51, served two terms as an at-large member on the Manchester school board. He was first elected in 2015, and won a second term in 2017. He did not run for re-election in 2019.
Girard previously served a term as an alderman at-large on the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, from 1998 to 2000.
Girard is a 1987 graduate of Manchester High School West and earned his A.B. in political science from Boston College in 1991.
After college, he served as campaign manager during Raymond Wieczorek's successful mayoral bid, then served as his Wieczorek's assistant from 1992 to 1997.