(NASHUA, N.H., July 26, 2023) This morning, Nashua mayor Jim Donchess held a citizens’ forum at the Nashua Center for the Arts. Perhaps due to the promise of free coffee, Bagel Alley bagels, and access to the mayor, the space reserved for the event was overwhelmed and it was quickly apparent that attendance was significantly higher than Donchess’s staff anticipated. Fortunately, they did a quick pivot to another, more spacious area to accommodate the crowd.

It was heartening to observe such a strong display of civic engagement in our city. Let us give credit where credit is due. Inviting the electorate to share their concerns and ask their questions at no cost is what every executive office holder should be doing on a regular basis. Hopefully, we will see more of this kind of open dialog between residents and holders of elected offices.

Before opening the floor to questions, the mayor shared some of his highest priorities for the city. First, he discussed the importance of making Nashua’s downtown an attractive destination and a hub of commerce. He emphasized the need for increased retail businesses as well as available housing in the downtown area so that people were within walking distance of Main Street and able to patronize those businesses easily. He went on to mention several approved and proposed projects that will convert downtown properties into apartments to address the lack of available, affordable housing. Without a doubt, the housing shortage is one of Nashua’s greatest challenges at this time.

The question and answer portion of the event saw the mayor fielding questions regarding commuter rail, the proposed asphalt plant, education spending, and renewable energy. The tone fluctuated from inquisitive to complimentary to contentious, but it was through-and-through a civil and productive conversation.

If you are able, try to attend these kinds of events. Take the opportunity to learn more about what is going on in the city and have your voice heard by the people who are shaping policies that effect us all.

Also, the bagels were excellent.