Portsmouth Mayor John Rowe said he will not seek re-election this year so he can spend more time with his family.
Rowe, who was elected to the job in 2016, is in his first term. Residents will choose a new mayor this fall. “I’m still having fun and enjoy doing what I do in public service but in another four years I’ll be 80½,” he said in an interview Friday.
Moments before clinching the race for mayor, John Rowe promised to unite his city in the wake of a contentious election that highlighted tension between black and white communities.
“Let’s work together for a new beginning,” the former city manager told a crowd of about 300 supporters who packed inside the Scottish Rite Temple after polls closed Tuesday night. “The message that we got, was that we want change.”
Ousted City Manager John Rowe has raised more than $87,000 to fund his bid for mayor, nearly as much as his five competitors combined.
He’s just $2,800 short of matching the total raised by all other candidates, according to campaign finance reports released this week. Businessman Shannon Glover, who claimed $46,000, has the next highest total, and incumbent Kenny Wright is third with $29,000.
“Are you satisfied with the Portsmouth city government?” asked Pam Kloeppel, director of the People for Portsmouth PAC and the organizer of Thursday’s mayoral forum, the first since the deadline for candidates to file to run.
“No,” answered the nearly unanimous crowd of a few hundred people, setting the tone .
Mayor Kenny Wright says the city he’s led since 2010 is better off than it was six years ago, but expect several political foes to disagree.
Uneasiness over Portsmouth’s economic future and a widening racial divide has brought five challengers to Wright’s doorstep, in hopes of unseating the mayor who’s been criticized for contributing to infighting among its politicians.
Facing five challengers in the November election who all say they could do a better job, Mayor Kenny Wright said Wednesday he thinks it’s all “pretty thrilling.”
“We’ve got something here that’s worth working for, fighting for and creating a new future for,” he said of Portsmouth. Wright hadn’t raised any money as of June 6 but has loaned his campaign $20,000. He said he’ll emphasize the city’s improved financial footing in the past six years, including its now-stable bond rating.
The first set of campaign finance reports for the Nov. 8 mayoral and City Council races were filed Friday, and three mayoral candidates have raised more than $9,000 each.
Mayor Kenny Wright, who has $334 on hand, isn’t one of them.
Mayor Kenny Wright highlighted the city’s community engagement, development, education and challenges at Portsmouth’s State of the City speech on Wednesday.
“I stand here humbly but confident that the Portsmouth we seek is already taking shape,” he said.
A low-speed police chase in January involving Sheriff Bill Watson and Mayor Kenny Wright resulted Monday in the mayor having to pay $65 in court costs.
Special prosecutor Verbena Askew, who was appointed to handle the case after the Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office bowed out because of a conflict of interest, asked a judge to dismiss all charges. She said the chase never reached the level of a “pursuit” because there was no evidence Wright took evasive actions or was driving more than 10 mph over the speed limit.
City officials say John Rowe, who is running for mayor, might have improperly received retirement benefits while drawing a paycheck as city manager.
Rowe said he didn’t think he did anything wrong and blamed “politics” for the issue being raised at recent City Council meetings. The city is waiting to hear from the state on whether it will have to make up retirement contributions for him.