With a land area of about 45 square miles, Rochester is geographically the largest community in Strafford County. And, with a population of about 30,000 people, it trails only Dover as the second most populous community in the county. It is the northernmost community in the Tri-City region, located on the cusp between the bustling Seacoast area and more rural parts of New Hampshire.
In recent years, the Lilac City has experienced significant development, especially along the Route 11 corridor and around the Spaulding Turnpike exits. Now, city officials hope to promote Rochester as a desirable destination for shoppers and visitors from around the region. Several of this year’s city council candidates addressed the need to improve the city’s image so that it can better compete with popular nearby cities like Portsmouth and Dover to attract tourists and businesses.
At the same time, Rochester’s elected officials must produce balanced budgets that provide funding for aging infrastructure and school building repairs, all while living within the constraints of the city’s tax cap. They must also continue working to lower the city’s crime rate and address the regional heroin epidemic, which has hit hard in both Rochester and neighboring Somersworth.
Rochester is divided into six wards, each of which has two city councilors, plus the mayor. This year, there is a three-way race for mayor, and three contested races for seats on the council (Ward 1, Seat A; Ward 4, Seat A; and Ward 6, Seat A). This survey includes only candidates in contested races. Candidate Eric Sirles, who is running for Ward 4, Seat A, did not participate. The following candidates are running unopposed and are not included in the survey:
Raymond Varney Jr. (Ward 1, Seat B), Elaine M. Lauterborn (Ward 2, Seat A), Sandra B. Keans (Ward 2, Seat B), Peter A. Lachapelle (Ward 3, Seat A), Thomas Abbott (Ward 3, Seat B), Ralph Torr (Ward 5, Seat A), Robert W. Gates (Ward 5, Seat B), and James P. Gray (Ward 6, Seat B).
Note: This is the fourth and final installment of The Sound’s series of voter’s guides for Seacoast cities. Previous installments of the series covered city council races in Portsmouth, Dover, and Somersworth. For full election coverage, visit our local elections page. For more voter resources and coverage from local independent media outlets, visit seacoastlocal.org.
For City Council: