Four more Keene residents have declared their candidacy for two vacant City Council seats, the terms of which will expire at the end of this year.
This past week’s filings bring the field to four candidates in each race for the midterm vacancies.
David Lanier, Robert J. O’Connor and Michael Remy are running for the open seat in ward 4. They also face Frederick B. Parsells, a former councilor who filed his candidacy July 2.
John Therriault has submitted his declaration for the at-large seat. He joins three other candidates who filed earlier: Kate Bosley, Teresa “Terri” O’Rorke and Margaret M. “Maggie” Rice.
Rice stepped down last month from her position as one of two ward 4 councilors because her move to another part of the city made her ineligible for the seat. At-large Councilor Bartlomiej K. “Bart” Sapeta also cited an impending move in his resignation letter to councilors in June.
The at-large seat is open to any registered voter in Keene, but the other position is restricted to residents of ward 4, which runs northwest from downtown along Route 12 to the Surry border. (For a map of all five wards, go to ci.keene.nh.us/city-clerk/elections-voting, and look under “Where Do I Vote?”)
Per Keene’s city charter, the sitting councilors vote to fill vacancies with people who serve until the electorate can choose a successor in a municipal election. (The terms for these seats expire Dec. 31.)
Both positions will then appear on the ballot in the city’s elections in November: a typical two-year term for the at-large seat, and the remainder of the ward seat’s term, which will run two years from Jan. 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2021.
The City Council will fill the seats at its Aug. 1 meeting after five-minute presentations from contenders. The ward 4 candidate will be chosen first, and the winner sworn in to then immediately join the councilors in voting on the at-large position.
The filing period began July 2 and ends Monday at 4:30 p.m. Contact the city clerk’s office at 352-0133 with questions about how to file, or stop by City Hall.
The latest candidates
In the race for the ward 4 seat, newcomers and former city councilors have tossed in their names for consideration.
O’Connor is familiar with this process, since he was chosen by councilors to fill a vacancy in July 2012. He was reelected in 2013 but chose not to run again in 2017 because he wanted to focus on family, he said.
“I’ve always wanted to come back, and the timing is good,” O’Connor said, noting that his two kids are a bit older now and nearing high school graduation.
A career law enforcement officer, O’Connor now works as Roxbury’s part-time police chief and the safety director at Brattleboro Union High School. Past jobs included stints with the Keene and Swanzey police departments, the state highway patrol and as an investigator for the state liquor enforcement detail.
O’Connor said he enjoyed serving his ward on the council and, while noting he still has plenty to learn, said he felt like he did a good job. He liked working on the municipal services, facilities and infrastructure committee and built a good rapport with councilors and city staff, he added.
He plans to run for the ward 4 seat in the fall, regardless of whether he earns the council’s vote for this position.
Lanier ran unsuccessfully for an at-large seat on the council in 2017, and since he lives in ward 4, said he thought he’d try that seat instead this go-round.
He said he’s a candidate now for the same reasons he ran two years ago: “The chance to volunteer and give back to a community and a town that’s done a lot for me in the past 20 years. It’s that simple.”
Before leaving the newspaper in 2017, Lanier was The Sentinel’s sports editor for 15 years, the tail-end of a three-decade career in sports writing and editing for publications around the country. He works now as the golf technician at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Keene.
Lanier hasn’t decided for sure if he will go for the ward seat in the fall, though he said it’s likely he will. If elected, he’d like to emphasize the importance of youth sports and activities, which he said can structure education and work habits at a young age as well as help steer kids away from drugs.
This is Remy’s first attempt to join the council’s ranks, but he has plenty of experience serving on civil and nonprofit boards.
The director of operations finance at C&S Wholesale Grocers was born and raised in Westmoreland but traveled frequently for his job for about four years. More recently, he’s been able to settle in Keene, he said, and wants to be more connected and involved with the city again.
Remy is a member of the Keene Young Professionals Network’s board and the Monadnock United Way’s board and is an alternate on the city’s zoning board of adjustment. He plans to run for the ward 4 seat in November, adding that he brings to the table professional experience with financial analyses, budgets and long-term planning.
“I really like the fact that it’s not a partisan organization, and it’s looking after what’s best for the city,” he said.
This will mark Therriault’s third run for an at-large seat in four years; he ran unsuccessfully in 2015 and 2017. He also challenged Rep. Donovan W. Fenton, D-Keene, last year for the state Cheshire District 8 House seat but lost.
A former chairman of the Cheshire County Republican Committee, Therriault said he plans to run in the fall, though he’s not sure if it’ll be at large or in ward 5. That will depend on whether Councilor Thomas F. Powers runs for re-election, he said, adding that it’s “awful tough” to beat an incumbent in Keene.
But despite his prior losses, he intends to keep running for office.
“The level of government that impacts people the most is their local government, and so I think having a seat at the table … is an important civil duty,” Therriault said.
He retired four years ago after a 30-year career in high-tech aerospace and a stint as a Navy pilot. He ended as a general manager at Janos Technology in Keene, and said he and his wife fell in love with the community.
Therriault said his unique professional experience would give him a leg up as a city councilor in helping attract businesses to Keene.
Along with economic development, he said he’d like to see Keene take an interest in pollinators. As treasurer for the Monadnock Beekeepers Association, he underscored bees’ importance and suggested the city could install hives in public spaces on fallow land.