The race for mayor has begun in the city of Keene, with two candidates having filed. The elections are scheduled to take place Nov. 7 and primary elections are set for Oct. 3, according to the City of Keene website.
Former District 10 New Hampshire State Senator and Vice President of Financing and Planning for Keene State College Jay Kahn filed to run for mayor this upcoming election. Kahn said he decided to run because he was approached by numerous people in the city about running. The people who approached him, along with himself, see the value that could be brought to Keene if elected, he said.
Over the course of his time in the state senate from 2016-2022 and his time with KSC from 1988-2016, he said he has made a lot of connections within the area and within the state that he would be able to bring to the table.
“I know the towns and I know the state leadership,” Kahn said.
According to Kahn’s website, he is running on five specific issues:
Public safety, housing, workforce, infrastructure and community
engagement. If elected, during his term as mayor he said he would
work towards improving these.
Limited housing within Keene is one issue Kahn is looking to address. He said during an analysis the city conducted, they found Keene would need 1,400 additional housing units in order to address the needs of the people.
One way to look at this problem would be to try to build more or work with surrounding towns to keep people in the Monadnock Region, Kahn said. He also acknowledged how expensive renting can be within Keene.
According to Zillow, the average monthly rent in Keene is $1,600. One way to help lower the cost of rent would be to increase the supply of apartments, with the current vacancy rate being 2%, according to Kahn.
“There is some market balancing that needs to occur through the housing development,” he said.
As a state senator, Kahn said he worked with people in the mental
health profession through 30 different entities in the state.
According to Mental Health America, New Hampshire is ranked 38
out of the 50 states for access to mental health care. Additionally, New
Hampshire is ranked 35 for the prevalence of mental illness.
Kahn said the state needs to work with the mental health services in
New Hampshire to create a better network so that gaps can be filled. He
said they also need to work with institutions and providers so that they
can hire more interns to free up counselors.
“We need to leverage services of all of these [mental health providers]
to form a network in our community,” he said.
Another thing Kahn said he wants to work towards is increasing civic engagement in Keene.
Kahn said he wants to get more people involved in municipal
government. He mentioned trying to create a “youth council” for
younger people who are in middle or high school so that they can get
involved. Even though they can’t vote yet, they still are affected by
decisions made at the local level.
He also said he encourages college students to run if they are able, as
most live within the first ward of Keene.
“It costs nothing for us to improve civic engagement and raise social
capital,” Kahn said.
Tim Bruns can be contacted at