Nashua roundly rejects change to police commission appointments, approves sports books

Nov. 3—Nashua voters shot down a ballot question that would have changed the way the city's police commission is appointed.

The commission provides civilian oversight for police on high-level matters such as hiring and firing leadership, and disciplining officers. With the failure of the ballot question, Nashua will remain the only place in New Hampshire where the governor appoints the police commission, with the approval of the Executive Council.

The ballot question proposed expanding the commission from three members to five, with three commissioners nominated by the mayor and two nominated by the president of the board of aldermen. The full 15-member board of aldermen would have to vote on the appointments.

The Board of Aldermen voted against the change earlier this year, so proponents of the change collected some 2,000 signatures to put the question on the ballot, saying they wanted more local accountability.

But by a nearly two-to-one margin, voters rejected the change. Opponents of the change said they worried the local appointments would put police oversight too close to city politics, raising the specter of local scandals past.

The question lost in all nine wards, according to unofficial results from the City Clerk's office.

Opposition was well-organized with a political action committee, "Citizens for a Better Nashua" raising and spending money to oppose the change.

Local investor Sandy Cleary was one of the PAC's leaders.

In a statement Tuesday, Cleary said she did not think the question had been properly vetted.

"Any suggestion to change oversight and control of the Police Commission should be studied thoroughly before any new effort is launched to send this question to the voters," she said. "The Nashua Police Department is independently managed, fully accredited, well-trained and has the full support of this community."

Proponents said the change would bring more local accountability to police, with commissioners vetted and appointed by Nashua elected officials rather than the governor and Executive Council, which, at the moment, does not include anyone from Nashua.

Sports book locations

As of 9 p.m., with seven of nine wards reporting, Nashua voters were on their way to allowing sports book locations in the city, after voters narrowly rejected the idea in the 2019 elections.

Since the 2019 vote, two sports book locations have opened in New Hampshire, in Seabrook and Manchester. Several other towns and cities have voted to open themselves to potential sports books. DraftKings, the company that contracts with New Hampshire to run sports betting here, has opened a Nashua office with 20 employees.

Proponents of the question said they wondered if Nashua voters needed more time to learn about sports betting. The law legalizing sports betting in New Hampshire was passed just a few months before Election Day in 2019.

The city's charitable gaming casinos, the River Casino and Boston Billiards, could pursue adding a sports book, as the Filotimo Casino in Manchester did in 2020.

Left-leaning candidates win at-large races

In the races for three at-large seats on the Board of Aldermen and four at-large seats on the Board of Education, more progressive candidates won out. Though city races are officially nonpartisan, the seven candidates who won at-large races in Nashua had the backing of the city's Democratic committee.

Incumbent Alderman Shoshanna Kelly was the top vote-getter in the race for at-large seats on the Board of Aldermen, with 6,121 votes to win reelection to her seat. Melbourne Moran, Jr. and school board member Gloria Timmons also won at-large seats on the Board of Aldermen.

School board chair Heather Raymond also won re-election. Christina Darling, Regan Lamphier and former Nashua teacher Neil Claffey also won at-large seats on the Board of Education.