Victoria Sullivan & Tammy Simmon’s Put Down of French Canadians Linked to Free State Project Allies
Libertarian Group Allegedly Has Targeted Ward 11 for Political Takeover — OPINION
MANCHESTER, NH — To understand the bizarre discussion of “French Canadian Catholics” by Victoria Sullivan and Tammy Simmons on the latter’s ManchTalk public access TV broadcast, one needs to know that the Free State Project allegedly has targeted Ward 11 on the West Side with a political takeover.
Apparently, they see the French Canadian community that is the dominant demographic group in Ward 11 as a problem. Ward 11 was the heart of Manchester’s Le petit Canada.
A former State Rep from the West Side who is Greek-American told me several years that Franco Americans (a.k.a. French Canadians) were extremely tribal and favored voting for their own, more so than any of the other ethnic groups in the Queen City. And nowhere was the French Canadian population and culture stronger than in Ward 11.
“Jon, the French in Ward 11 might vote for an Irishman, or maybe somebody who’s been around forever with a German name,” he told me. “But for a Greek? Never!”
This is a maxim of Manchester politics. So, what does one do when one has targeted a ward for takeover, and one lacks a French name?
The Ron Paul Connection
When I read that U.S. Senator Rand Paul had endorsed Victoria Sullivan, a political lightweight for the not-exactly within-the-ken of outlander Senators office of Mayor of Manchester, New Hampshire, I was puzzled.Why would he become involved, as he apparently doesn’t have any intention of running in the New Hampshire Presidential Primary in 2024.
But former Congressman Ron Paul is featured on the Free State Project website saying, “I am a friend of the Free State Project. Check it out and if you like it, join and continue the effort.”
Then I remembered that State Rep. Tammy Simmons (Hillsborough Dist. 17) supported the libertarian Ron Paul during the 2012 New Hampshire primary. He came in second, behind Mitt Romney.
Michael Biundo, a consultant to the Victoria Sullivan for Mayor campaign who often serves as a spokesperson for her, served as a senior adviser to Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign. He actually was the one who attacked Rich Girard for criticizing Sullivan for what he sees as bigoted remarks.
“Just because Rich Girard is desperate and losing, it doesn’t give him the right to lie,” Biundo said in a quote carried by manchesterinklink. Victoria has respect for all of Manchester’s residents. Respect is a word that would serve Rich well to learn.”
Biundo earlier had said, in my opinion, that Manchester stinks, when he was serving as Victoria Sullivan’s mouthpiece in an attack on Mayor Joyce Craig.
Is We Heart West Part of the Free State Project?
During their discussion of a new generation of proactive West Siders who are poised to takeover power from the senescent “French Canadian Catholics” — a group of tired old farts that need to be replaced, according to the gist of SImmons and Sullivan’s argument — Tammy Simmons discussed a new organization called We Heart West.
This is a group that is planning “the first West Manchester Day” at Rock Rimmon Park in Ward 11 on Labor Day weekend, she explained. The group seems to be dedicated to neighborhood cleanups, a passion of Victoria Sullivan. However, it also seems to have a political bent.
Louis Calitz, who blogs on the We Heart West website, is a member of the Free State Project. He also is the husband of Carla Gericke, a Free State Project board of directors member who advocates for the secession of New Hampshire from the United States. (Perhaps the West Side will secede and become part of Quebec, a joke I heard many a time when I was a kid growing up on the West Side.)
Gericke appears frequently on Simmons’ ManchTalk show.
Although mayoral candidate Richard Henri Girard is rightly offended by what he — in my opinion — correctly sees as anti-French Canadian bigotry, the verbal mugging of Franco-Americans on the West Side was motivated by Sullivan and Simmons’ desire to defeat Ward 11 Alderman Norm Gamache, who like Girard, is Franco-American (of French Canadian heritage).
They also want to see political power in Ward 11 pass from the French Canadian community to their Free State allies, who reportedly are targeting the ward for a takeover Tammy Simmons and her libertarian-Republican allies never quite achieved in neighboring Ward 10.
A transcript compiled by the Girard at Large website details the conversation:
Simons: A large portion of Manchester are French Canadian Catholic and that’s okay. They were all from the mills and everything.
Sullivan: And they do a wonderful job with the West Side.
Simmons: There’s nothing wrong , but I’m just saying you can’t live in 2021 and think that you have to do everything in the city based on what we needed in the 80s or the 90s.
Simmons: You know, I mean, we have, we have…
Sullivan: A very different demographic.
Sullivan: No, and if you haven’t gone on the West Side and talked to some of the folks who are over there, that are really invested in the community, they take so much pride in what’s happening over there and they love the rest of the city.
Tammy Simmons then brings up a new organization called We Heart West, that is planning “the first West Manchester Day” at Rock Rimmon Park in War 11. The group seems to be dedicated to neighborhood cleanups, a passion of Victoria Sullivan.
Louis Calitz, who blogs on the We Heart West website, is a member of the Free State Project. He also is the husband of Carla Gericke., a Free State Project board of directors member who advocates for the secession of New Hampshire from the United States. Gericke has appeated on Simmons’ Manchtalk show.
Sullivan: And that organization is largely made up of new residents to the city.
Simmons: Those are people who are not French Canadian Catholics that settled here prior to 1990. [Emphasis added.] They are young people who want to make the community there more vibrant and they want to clean up their neighborhoods and they’re organizing and it’s very similar to what happened in the North End with Stark Park.
Sullivan: And I will tell you that the elderly people that live on that side love that they’re passing the torch to another generation of people.
(I am a native of the West Side. I have the suspicion Victoria Sullivan’s assertion that the elderly people of the West Side “love that they’re passing the torch” is something made up by a paid political consultant. Her idea that the Franco-Americans of the West Side want to be taken over by the Free State Project’s extreme libertarians borders on delusional, in my opinion — at best, it is extremely cynical as it’s not true.)
Simmons went on to say — unbelievably — that the French Canadians of the West Side, who are fabled for their hard work and their clean, tidy, well-maintained yards, essentially don’t give a damn about clean streets!
Simmons: If you’re 70 years old, you are the French Canadian Catholic that’s lived here all your life and you don’t stick to cleaning the street.
Sullivan: You want somebody that’s going to take pride in your side of the city.
It is my feeling that Tammy Simmons may be bitter after being rejected by in her frequent attempts to obtain political office. She served two terms in the State House of Representatives, but lost races for reelection and for alderman.
A resident of Manchester Ward 10 on the West Side, another locale with a large French Canadian population, Simmons won election to the State House of Representatives in 2010 and 2014. She lost bids for reelection in 2012 and 2016. Ward 10 voters rejected her attempts to return to the State House in 2018 and 2020.
In 2017, in a matchup with Ward 10 Alderman Bill Barry, she was defeated by the considerable margin of 324 votes out of the 1,892 votes cast.
Btw, I was one of the candidates that Simmons beat in 2014 in the general election.
Free State Project Allies
Brittany LeClear-Ping is running for School Board, and her fellow Free Stater Andre Rosa is running against incumbent Alderman Norm Gamache, who is Franco-American (French Canadian). Rosa lost the primary, and Gamache went on to beat fellow Franco-American (French Canadian) Russ Ouelette, who had previously served as alderman, by 20 votes.
LeClear-Ping is married to Matthew Ping, who is prominent in the Free State movement. They own Ledgeview Commercial Partners.
Candidate profiles from a 2018 manchesterinklink article revealed their affiliation with the Free State Project:
Brittany Ping (R), age 30, earned an MBA in Human Resources from SNHU in 2018 and is an office manager and realtor at Ledgeview Commercial Partners. Her top three issues are: School choice/education reform, right-to-work, and cannabis decriminalization. She wrote, “I live, work, shop, and play in Manchester Ward 11 and feel very connected to my neighborhood. I am very passionate about being a voice for those who are fiscally responsible in Ward 11 including renters, homeowners, and businesses across the political spectrum.
Matthew Ping (D), age 31, earned a BS from Ball State University in Business and Property Management. He is the Principal Broker and owner of Ledgeview Commercial Partners. His top three issues are cannabis decriminalization and drug treatment, attracting and retaining entrepreneurs in NH, and increasing civil liberties for all. He wrote, “We owe it to our families and our communities to push beyond establishment party politics and start standing up for the individuals and their struggles in our neighborhoods.” He moved to New Hampshire in 2012 for the Free State Project.
According to Granite State Progress’ Free State Project Watch website, “Manchester Ward 11 Selectman Candidate Alexander Avery” is a Free State movement member who moved to Manchester in 2016. (Avery is not running for office in Ward 11 or apparently anywhere else in Manchester in 2021.)
When he first moved to Manchester, Avery lived in an apartment managed by Ledgeview Commercial Partners, LLC, a real estate and property management company run by Free Stater Matthew Ping, a former State House candidate. Ping manages several Free Stater owned and/or occupied properties in Manchester. The Free State Project has a network of real estate agents and properties to help new movers with short-term or long-term housing.
Victoria Sullivan and Tammy Simmons are allied with the Free State Project. The Free State Project, rumor has it, has targeted Manchester Ward 11 for takeover (and possible secession).
Only when this is understood, can their remarks be understood. It is not an attack on French Canadian Catholics per se, but an expression of frustration with a demographic group that keeps them and their allies from power.