Running forWard 7 Alderman
Running as Non-Partisan Election
Regular Ink Link readers probably already know I share the same name as the Ward 3 Alderman and the famous cat. Beyond that, I’m a Manchester homeowner, an Iraq War veteran, and a small business owner (a lawyer). I’m a Democrat, but in addition to being a small business owner and a military veteran, I grew up in the ruby red state of Tennessee, so I understand and appreciate Republicans’ perspective on the issues. I had an interest in public service from an early age. My grandfather was a career Marine who fought in three wars. He died when I was just a baby, so I didn’t know him, but my grandma told me a lot of stories about his service and I always looked up to him. At first I just thought war and adventure sounded exciting, but over time she taught me about the sacrifices that he (and really the whole family, due to his frequent absences for both combat tours and ship duty) had made for our freedom. So I shipped to Army basic training when I was 18, spent 10+ years in the National Guard, and one year in Kuwait and Iraq. I wound up in Manchester because of my military service. From 2008-2014 I was in NH Army National Guard units based in Manchester’s Canal Street Armory (first the 3643rd Brigade Support Battalion, and then the 372nd Signal Company after I got a promotion). From 2010-2011 I deployed to Kuwait and Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn. I could have had a safer assignment in Kuwait, where most of my unit went, but I volunteered to go with another unit to serve on a gun truck escorting convoys into Iraq instead. Having spent a lot of time here for National Guard duties, I knew Manchester was a great place to live and that’s why I chose it when it was time to buy a home. I also really appreciated the politics here, having volunteered on several political campaigns in Manchester. Most of New Hampshire politics really is about solving problems, even when we disagree about the solutions, and the average citizen has much more of a voice in the process than in most other states.
Depends what you count as political. So I’m including government experience that was not political but which I think is still relevant. Personnel Appeals Board, City of Manchester, 2022-2023 Finance Committee, Town of Great Barrington (MA), 2007-2010 I’ve also worked or volunteered on various campaigns over the years, including volunteering in Manchester for Obama (‘08), Clinton (‘16), the NH Dems (’18, ’20, ’21, ‘22), Manchester Dems and a bunch of local campaigns (’21, ’22) and did multiple legal internships in government.
Current jobAttorney, Patrick Long Law Firm, P.C.
Time lived in NH2 years in Manchester. But I have had a connection to Manchester for 15 years. I was in National Guard units based here from 2008-2014, and have volunteered on various political campaigns here going back to 2008.
BA, Quantitative Studies, Simon’s Rock College, 2007
MIP, Franklin Pierce Law Center (now UNH Law School), 2008
JD, Suffolk University Law School, 2013
WebsiteVote Patrick Long
Why are you running for this office?
I think I can make a difference in the issues facing the city. I have always had an interest in public service, since I was a kid. My experience as an attorney, working with many clients who have mental health issues or substance addictions, is particularly relevant now because addressing our inadequate care for mental health and substance addiction is a key part of solving the homelessness crisis.
What qualifies you as the best candidate for this office?
1. Commitment to public service, whether in or out of politics (both military and civilian government experience). 2. My experience working with clients who have mental health or substance issues gives me a unique understanding of the challenges they are facing, and of the importance of creating a system that both has compassion for the fact that they did not choose to be mentally ill or addicted, but also teaches them to take responsibility for the choices they make going forward. 3. Better vision for the office. I think the homelessness crisis is the most important issue facing the city. My opponent has been an alderman before and he did not take the issue seriously enough at the time. For example, he voted against hiring a director of homelessness initiatives, and against a proposal that even some of his Republican colleagues supported to transfer money from the contingency fund to the welfare fund to help families of Manchester School District students at risk of homelessness at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. I would have voted for both of those decisions. Additionally, he voted against giving our teachers a raise, even though they are paid less than the state average and we face recruitment and retention problems as a result. I would have voted for the raise.
What are your thoughts on and plans for addressing homelessness?
I don’t know what all the answers are here, and I would like to hear your ideas. But to start we need to build more affordable housing, and help people get the treatment they need for substance abuse and mental health issues, so they will stay off the streets. I will work to ensure that everyone who wants to buy or rent a home in Manchester is able to afford it. Opioid users, alcoholics, and anyone else addicted to a drug that causes medically significant withdrawals who want to quit need to be able to get into detox immediately, and users of any drug need to be able to get into rehab right away when they are ready to quit, so they don’t change their minds. We can also do a better job of connecting people to mental health help right away. In my law practice, I work with a lot of people who have mental health or substance abuse issues, and my experience is that it is important to be humane about meeting their needs, while also demanding accountability for harmful behavior.
What are your thoughts on housing costs and plans for addressing those concerns?
Housing is too expensive because we don’t have enough of it. We are about 3000 units short of what we need for a healthy rental market, and by the time those are built we will probably need more. The first part of this is for government to get out of the way and give people more freedom to use their property as they see fit. While we do better than some of our neighboring towns, the current Zoning Ordinance makes it too hard for people to build. We need to review it and find appropriate opportunities to relax it so that we can solve out housing crisis. One specific complaint I have heard from multiple voters in Ward 7 is that they own 100 foot by 50 foot lots, which used to be buildable lots but no longer are because the minimum lot size for even a single-family home is 6,500 square feet. This makes no sense—many of the existing single- or two–family homes (entire neighborhoods even) in Ward 7 were built on 100’ x 50’ lots back when that was legal! Building more housing will create more competition and bring market rate rents down. But some people will not be able to afford market rate rentals at any realistic price, because they work in below-living-wage jobs, or have disabilities, etc. We also need to make more affordable housing available. The City of Manchester has an affordable housing trust fund that developers are currently not taking advantage of. I have asked a few of them why, and the consistent answer is that it’s just not enough money to make building affordable housing viable given the current cost of everything—materials, labor, interest rates, etc. We need to identify a new funding source (or sources) that will provide enough money to make it possible to build affordable housing.
What are your thoughts on and plans regarding crime and public safety?
We should make sure we have a full complement of police officers, address any recruitment issues that are keeping us from getting there, and give the police the tools they need to do their job as effectively as possible. I support the introduction of ShotSpotter (which helps them identify right away where gunshots are coming from) and Fusus (which allows homeowners and businesses to more efficiently share information with the police when a crime occurs). I don’t want to pre-judge new technologies without knowing the details, but in general I would support more technological solutions that allow the police to be more efficient and effective. Additionally, we need to do everything we can to resolve the homelessness crisis. We need to get people housed and off the streets whenever possible, and when not possible we need to ensure they are able to get help for mental health and substance problems that cause them to be in that situation. Those same problems lead to many types of criminal behaviors, and if we can solve the underlying problem we can stop the crimes that come from it. Someone who can’t get they help they need becomes someone the police have to deal with frequently, instead of interacting with them once, getting them help, and moving on to other problems. Dealing with the issues created by homelessness takes up police officers’ time that could otherwise be spent on other needs. The more we can eliminate those problems, or find non-law enforcement-based strategies to mitigate them, the more the police are free to do the rest of their jobs. New Hampshire is one of only 13 states that do not allow civil commitment for substance addiction. Once the state actually has enough rehab facilities available to make it a viable option, I would also advocate that our legislators change this law. It is always better if people choose to get treatment, but some people do benefit from enforced sobriety, with appropriate medical treatment and counseling available to help them get through it. Massachusetts allows civil commitment for addiction if the person poses a danger to themselves or others, and I have seen it help some people there. The key thing is they have to stay sober long enough to get over the withdrawals and the earliest, most intense cravings, so they don’t just mistakenly learn that sobriety sucks. Currently we don’t have enough facilities even for those who already want treatment, but I am optimistic that the recent increase in Medicaid reimbursement rates will encourage rehabilitation providers to make more beds available.
What are your thoughts on and/or plans for addressing concerns about property tax rates?
The number one thing we can do to reduce or at least stabilize taxes is to expand the tax base. Building more housing means we have more taxpayers, paying on more units, and each individual is responsible for a smaller portion of the total tax burden. While they will require some new services, we will benefit from economies of scale in most areas. Longer-term I would like to see Manchester become prosperous as a place to do business. I am particularly excited by the idea of becoming a bio-manufacturing hub. Attracting more businesses will also bring in more taxpayers to share the costs of providing city services.
What are your thoughts on the city's snow removal and trash pickup services?
My trash is always picked up on time and my street is always plowed on time. That seems to be the case for most people so I think DPW is overall doing a good job with those. I have heard of a few isolated opportunities to do better on snow plowing here and there.
What are your thoughts on the city's small business climate?
Manchester is a good place to do business but we can always find ways to improve. We should look at opportunities to reduce the red tape involved in starting and running a business. We also need to make sure businesses are able to attract the workforce they need, and a lot of that goes back to lowering housing costs. People can’t afford to move here and that often means they can’t afford to take jobs here. While I generally oppose the proposal to make the no camping ordinance enforceable even when there is no shelter available, I am open to a more narrowly targeted ordinance prohibiting camping near sensitive sites, including businesses that are disproportionately affected by encampments, and I support the ability of businesses to have trespassers removed from their property.
What are your thoughts on and plans on improving the city's medium and large business climate?
Like small businesses, large and medium businesses currently have problems with workforce recruitment and retention. The biggest thing we can do at the city level to fix this is work to lower the cost of housing so that people can afford to live here and work here.
What are your thoughts on and plans on improving parks and recreation in the city?
Keep them clean and make sure the law is being enforced. I have heard some complaints about trash at Prout Park, so it may be necessary to increase trash collection there. I suspect the pickleball court has been more popular and therefore resulted in more trash than anticipated.
What are your thoughts on how public transportation and infrastructure in the city can be improved?
The area of Maple Street running through Ward 7 is one of the lowest-income areas of the city, where many people do not own a car, and yet has no bus stops because it is not safe for a bus to stop there. We need to calm traffic on Maple Street so that it is safe to ride the bus there, or to bike or walk. I would also support extending the Maple St bike lane south of Bridge St as long as we can resolve any parking and traffic flow challenges it presents. In general, we should invest in bike lanes, pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, and public transportation where possible, in order to reduce pollution and traffic and increase safety. I would also advocate for restoring full Boston Express Bus service to Manchester and would support the commuter rail if there is a fiscally responsible path to building it. However, the MBTA’s mismanagement of their current train lines has been a huge disappointment, so we would need more New Hampshire control over it than current proposals call for.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the city's civic pride and ideas on how to improve it?
I think most people here already have pride in Manchester. We can always do better, but I think that will be a downstream consequence of making Manchester the best place it can be to live, work, and play.
What are your thoughts on any neighborhood specific issues in your ward as well as any plans on addressing those issues?
Hallsville School—I am disappointed that the previous plan by Southern New Hampshire Services fell through. I think we need to put out a new Request For Proposals and see what happens. We will probably have to remove some of the restrictions in the old RFP to generate enough interest, since we only had two bids before. I have also heard from some city that they have an interest in obtaining portions of the building for office space, and I would like to hear more detailed proposals from them as well as from potential buyers. But regardless of which proposal we adopt, we should move quickly to address it so that we do not have a vacant building draining city resources and potentially attracting crime. 39 Beech St—The shelter there is going well so far. I support the engagement center, with the caveat that it needs to actually provide the promised services and not just become a hangout spot, and the police and fire departments need to maintain an adequate presence in the area to prevent/mitigate any issues that arise as a result of it being there. I recently visited Boston’s Engagement Center and was not impressed, because it has become too much of a hangout spot for people who just have nowhere better to be. We need to learn from their mistakes, because we cannot allow it to become that. But ultimately, giving people the help they need to get back on their feet and become productive citizens is the most important thing we can do for them. Providing emergency shelter is a stopgap solution; providing people access to mental health and addiction services, help finding housing, employment opportunities (and sometimes even basic hygiene and sanitation so they can be presentable for a job interview) is the long-term solution.
What is your view on the main role of an Alderman?
The main job of an Alderman is to solve problems—whether that’s citywide problems via policy and the budget, or local problems via helping a constituent deal with a city department.