Keene Mayor Kendall W. Lane, who isn’t seeking a fifth term, endorsed City Councilor George S. Hansel for the post Monday. Two days earlier, Hansel also won the backing of one of his fellow city councilors, Steve Hooper.
In a news release, Lane said Hansel has exceeded his expectations on the council. He listed the committees to which he’s appointed Hansel during his tenure, including the airport master plan committee, the Mayor’s Drug Addiction Solutions Committee, the planning board, the conservation commission and the economic development committee.
Lane also noted that Hansel founded the Keene Manufacturers Consortium and is active with the Keene Young Professionals Network.
“George has run a positive, community-driven campaign that highlights our strengths,” Lane said in the release.
He said Monday morning that he made the decision to endorse Hansel so close to the election after watching the mayoral race develop. Local elections should be about bringing people together, he said, but political campaigns are designed to elect their candidates and are inherently divisive.
Lane said he’s been unhappy with the Democratic party’s involvement in Councilor Mitchell H. Greenwald’s campaign. Greenwald is a Democrat, and Hansel is a Republican, although Keene’s city charter states that all municipal primaries and elections “shall be nonpartisan in nature.”
“People in Keene make the decision. ... It shouldn’t be influenced by national candidates who know nothing about our issues,” Lane said, referring to a video posted online in which Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker of New Jersey appeared with Greenwald and announced his support.
The letter to the editor Hooper sent to The Sentinel Saturday announcing his endorsement of Hansel also decried partisanship in the race.
“Potholes don’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican, they just need to be filled,” wrote Hooper, a Ward 1 councilor running to continue serving the council in one of the five at-large seats. At the end of his letter, Hooper — after describing the strengths he thinks Hansel would bring to the mayor’s office — urges voters to “worry less about party affiliation and more about character, fresh energy and leadership for Keene.”