2017 Municipal Review
Coming out of the 2016 elections, Millennials were incredibly energized and more willing than ever to run for office. These young leaders understood that if they wanted to ensure their communities reflected the progressive values that will make our state a better place to live, work, learn, and start a family, then they needed to step up and run themselves. In order to help foster and grow this energy, the New Hampshire Young Democrats aggressively organized and executed a statewide plan to elect these young leaders first time candidates this past municipal cycle in New Hampshire.
As the only statewide group organizing millennials in New Hampshire, we intimately understand how vital it is to elevate the voices and the bold ideas of young leaders across our state and to get them elected. Considering the greatest barrier young candidates face with their first campaign is access to a competent and proactive political support network, the New Hampshire Young Democrats, with our 603 Forward program and our network of young politically-minded professionals who offer campaign resources to young Democrats seeking office, we are uniquely equipped and positioned to help build the pipeline of progressive leadership in New Hampshire.
The New Hampshire Young Democrats established the 603-Forward program, which works year round to recruit, train, and elect the next generation of progressive leadership to local , state and federal offices. Since its inception, the New Hampshire Young Democrats have supported over 150 Young Democrat campaigns, launching 38 Young Democrats into office from school board to the Executive Council.
The 603-Forward team began discussions about fall municipal elections coming out of the March 2017 Town Meetings, where we worked with a limited group of candidates in small communities across the state to help elect Young Democrats to Boards of Selectmen, budget committees, and other local bodies. Following our efforts last March, there was no doubt that building a strong Democratic bench in New Hampshire starts with local office and we understood that we had to invest more substantial resources at the local-level to build a slate of young leaders.
The following memo will outline the extensive, successful, and unprecedented coordinated campaign the New Hampshire Young Democrats undertook this past year to ensure the development of a strong, Democratic bench of young candidates for the future.
Following the inauguration of Donald Trump, the New Hampshire Young Democrats began soliciting and collecting information on prospective candidates for both the 2017 municipals and the 2018 general election. Our first formal recruitment event was in early June when we hosted a ‘Prospective Candidates Night’. The purpose of the event was to introduce interested young leaders to what a bid for office entails. The event took place on June 27th and we had nearly 60 people in attendance. New Hampshire Young Democrats board members along with experienced political operatives, current and former elected officials, presented on such topics as; choosing which office to run for, basics of fundraising, social media best practices, and how to write a campaign plan.
In addition to the prospective candidates night, we solicited our membership list and created a social media campaign to find young Democrats interested in running for office. In total, 38 Young Democrats ran for office in the fall 2017 municipal elections in nine cities across the state.
Once a young Democrat has filed to run for office and is working on starting their campaigns, they are eligible for endorsement or support from the New Hampshire Young Democrats. The candidate must fill out our form which asks questions related to: the details of their campaign, as well as their vision for young people in New Hampshire, and asks their biggest campaign needs. The candidate must submit that form along with a detailed campaign plan in order to be considered for endorsement. Overwhelmingly, the biggest campaign need for young candidates is funding and getting their name out. In order to maximize our resources, we develop and adjust our 603-Forward field plan to incorporate this type of feedback.
Fifteen of the 36 candidates who ran for office sought endorsement from 603-Forward. Support for these candidates, and all young Democrat candidates who ran, varied from different amounts on campaign advising, independent expenditures, and donations of up to $1,000.
Days of Action
In September and October we held four regional Days of Actions for the municipal candidates. The purpose of these days of actions is to recruit Young Democrat volunteers to participate in a canvass launch or phone bank to help elect the young Democrat candidates. As a result of these events 145 volunteers around New Hampshire and New England knocked about 7,250 doors in five different cities. All together, close to 10,000 doors were knocked for a young Democrat candidate by a young Democrat volunteer.
Understanding the fundamental goal of the the New Hampshire Young Democrats to elect the next generation of leaders, our annual budget dedicated funds for the 2017 municipal election cycle. From September through Election Day, we leveraged our work in these municipal elections to donors statewide to help push beyond our budget allocation for this cycle. To help fundraise we sent multiple specific, goal-oriented email solicitations to our membership, sent mail solicitations to over 600 reliable Democratic donors, and executed traditional call time. Additionally, we held weekly leadership meetings to strategize election spending, participated in one-on-one candidate advising, and spent time on crafting paid communications - which amounted to over 1,000 volunteer hours dedicated to these races from high level New Hampshire operatives.
On November 7th, fifteen candidates won their elections. Five were red to blue flips. Of the 36 Young Democrat candidates, 31 were first-time candidates. Of the fifteen candidates who sought endorsement from the 603-Forward program, nine of those candidates won their election - a 60% success rate.
Dave Tencza | Alderman-at-large
Shoshanna Kelly | Alderman-at-large
Brandon Laws | Alderman-at-large
Heather Raymond | School Board-at-large
Erika Connors | State Representative Special Election, ward 8
Marissa Chase | Selectman, ward 3
Caitlin Curran | Selectman, Ward 8
Jeremy Paris | Selectman, Ward 9
Karen Ladd | Clerk, Ward 6
Lindsey Williams | City Council-at-large, Dover
Zachary Kohler | School Board, Dover, ward 1, Dover
Edward Levasseur | City Council-at-large, Somersworth
Jeremy Hutchinson | City Council, Rochester, ward 1, Rochester
Josh Denton | City Council-at-large, Portsmouth
Maggie Rice | City Council, Keene, ward 1
Italics indicate first time candidate | Blue indicates red to Blue Flip
There are many obstacles a new candidate has to face when making a run for office which is why win or lose, we commend all of the young candidates who ran for office. There were at least three young candidates who, despite losing their race, still had wins in terms of progress made in a Republican district
Hassan Essa, Alderman, Ward 12
Hassan Essa is a student at UNH Manchester, Airforce National Guardsman, and refugee. At just twenty years old, Hassan would have been the youngest Alderman in Manchester’s history. Hassan lost by just 67 votes to a 3-term incumbent.
Pete Macone, Alderman, Ward 6
Peter Macone is a downtown business owner and first-time candidate. Peter lost by just 26 votes in a Republican stronghold district in 2016.
Erika Connors, Board of Education, Ward 8
Erika Connors won her State Representative Special Election but lost the race for Board of Education by just 119 votes to an incumbent in a Republican stronghold district.
Perhaps no city in the state performed so well as Nashua. Nashua won all but one seat where Democrats ran, including electing three Young Democrats as Alderman-At-Large and Board of Education. The Nashua Board of Alderman is now majority women and has two women of color for the first time ever. The New Hampshire Young Democrats partnered with Nashua Democratic City Committee (NDCC) to help lead a coordinated campaign effort. On September 11th the NDCC began its field program with a part-time Field Director. Throughout the campaign they sent out three slates of ward-specific mail for all endorsed candidates, staged over thirty canvass launches, and hosted over twenty phone banks. They knocked 4,000 doors and had 850 conversations and made over 1,500 phone calls where they had 350 conversations.
When compared to a similar election year overall turnout for Nashua was up 2.71% from 2013. The total voter turnout in 2017 was 10,730 voters which is 18.81% of all eligible voters. Ward 1 had the highest turnout of 25.79% of all voters; followed by wards 3, 5, 9, 8, 7, 2, 6, and lowest turnout was in ward 4 with 11.87% of registered voters turning out.
The New Hampshire Young Democrats invested in digital advertisements which reached nearly a half-million Granite Staters. The Young Dems also hosted a Get Out The Vote campaign using a peer-to-peer texting application.
16 WINS IN SIX CITIES. While the mayoral race in Manchester attracted most of the statewide political attention Tuesday night, the New Hampshire Young Democrats says it backed 16 winning candidates for aldermen, city councilors, school boards and ward selectmen.
In Nashua, five incumbent aldermen were ousted from office and a former Republican candidate for mayor, Chris Williams, also lost in a six-person race for three alderman-at-large seats.
The winning candidates in that city for aldermen-at-large – David Tencza, Brandon Laws and Shoshanna Kelly – were backed by the New Hampshire Young Democrats through a broad digital campaign. The group said the ads yielded nearly 500,000 impressions in the city and resulted in more than 750 visits to their page promoting the candidates and providing voting locations.
The Young Democrats said it also employed a GOTV texting campaign through Hustle, a new peer-to-peer texting app.
The group said it backed three winning candidates for city council at-large seats -- Josh Denton in Portsmouth, Lindsey Williams in Dover and Ed Levasseur in Somersworth. It backed two city council candidates -- Maggie Rice in Keene and Jeremy Hutchinson in Rochester.
Winners of school board seats who were supported by the New Hampshire Young Democrats were Zachary Kohler of Dover and Heather Raymond of Nashua, while Manchester ward selectmen winners were Marissa Chase, Caitlin Curran, Jeremy Paris and Kate Marquis. Karen Ladd won a ward clerk post in Manchester. Erika Connors lost a Manchester Ward 8 school board re-election bid while winning a New Hampshire House special election. All but Denton, Connors and Ladd were first-time candidates – and Connors was a first-time House candidate.
New Hampshire Young Democrats president Lucas Meyer said the group has been working for about a decade to strengthen its influence. “Millennials across New Hampshire aren't waiting around for others to make the change we need to make our state better. They are ready to lead and to make our communities thrive,” he said.
“We are sick and tired of seeing our peers moving out of state because of short-sighted decisions made by out of touch politicians, like forcing tuition hikes at our universities, restricting our ability to vote, lack of sensible transportation options like commuter rail and seemingly annual threats to basic women's health care.”
Meyer said that overall, 16 New Hampshire Young Democrats-backed candidates won, while 19 lost – a 47 percent success rate. But among candidates who ran for alderman or city councils seats, he said, the success rate was 67 percent.
Among the candidates who lost was 20-year-old Hassan Essa, who fell 68 votes short of veteran Alderman Keith Hirschmann in Manchester Ward 12. Meyers said that Essa and 17 other losing candidates were first-time candidates and will likely be heard from in the future.
Meyer said the New Hampshire Young Democrats provided “support, training and resources” to candidates through its 603-Forward program, a grassroots effort begun in 2008. This year the program, headed by Theo Groh, activated 200 volunteers, organized more than 50 canvass launches and phone banks and four days of action.