The candidates agreed with each other more often than not during a forum at the Manchester Town Hall last night, all saying the most pressing issues are growth, water and sewer service, and communication.
On May 16, voters will choose between mayoral candidates Elmer C. Lippy and John A. Riley. For the two council seats, voters will choose between incumbents Christopher D'Amario and James Singer, and first-time candidate A. Geoffrey Rice.
Mr. Lippy has already served a term as mayor and was a county commissioner for four years before losing his bid for a second term last fall. Mr. Riley is a former council member and recently retired after 10 years as Hampstead town manager.
"We don't want a Hampstead up here," Mr. Riley said. "Each town has a personality of its own."
When resident Michael Stielper asked if the controversy over growth in Hampstead would follow him to Manchester, Mr. Riley said no.
"Development is inevitable," he said. "It's the law. It's going to happen. I can't change it; you can't change it. So what effect can I have on it? Whatever is up here is up here."
Mr. Riley said his main goal would be to bring users onto the wastewater treatment system in a fair way. "The more people you get on a system, the less per user it's going to be," he said.
Mr. Lippy said: "Had I won the last commissioner's race, I wouldn't be here now running for mayor, but it's not because I wanted to find something to do. I can contribute to government, and good government, for the town of Manchester."
He said he took the initiative after winning office in 1987 as mayor to use state and federal grants to build the town's wastewater treatment plant. The grants would have been pulled if the town didn't use them, he said.
Mr. Lippy also said he took a stand against the Ku Klux Klan when members held a rally at a Manchester farm.
Among the issues raised by the council candidates:
"I feel controlling growth and keeping it to our advantage would be the most important thing, and all the other issues will fall into place," Mr. D'Amario.
Mr. Rice said water and sewer issues were the most pressing ones, and that the council and staff would need to plan ahead for expansion.
Mr. Singer said he was concerned about county, state and federal mandates that interfered with the town's local control.
All of the council candidates praised the work of David Warner, the temporary part-time town manager who replaced Terry Short after he resigned in the fall.
Each candidate said he would want to retain Mr. Warner. But if Mr. Warner leaves, Mr. D'Amario and Mr. Rice said they would lean toward a full-time town manager.