Thirteen years ago, when I was arrested for my second DUI, I knew I had to chart a new course. I knew I needed to remove alcohol from my life, and I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to serving others in the hope that I could help just one person avoid my mistakes.

I began working in advocacy and public policy and was fortunate to join my passion for such causes as veterans care, addiction, and mental health with my professional positions. There I  advanced bipartisan policy that helped address these issues through a divided Congress.

I next worked at a national nonprofit seeking to assist patients and families impacted by the addiction epidemic. I worked with stakeholders from around the country to develop and promote evidence-based practices with the goal of one day ending addiction as a major health condition.

And in 2020, after years of effort to overcome my past mistakes, I was sworn into our armed forces. Today, I’m honored to serve our state and country as an infantry officer in the New Hampshire Army National Guard.

Along my life path, I’ve learned lessons in leadership, the importance of listening, being honest, and possessing integrity. These characteristics allow a leader to build consensus and offer pragmatic, bipartisan solutions. I have had to make difficult decisions and choose the harder right over the easier wrong.

Now, Manchester has the opportunity to chart its own new course. Ours is a city filled with promise. I am proud of it and I love our community. But we are failing to reach our potential.

Four key issues confront our city: Homelessness, public safety, economic development, and education.

To address homelessness and public safety, we need to take a holistic approach. It would include working with stakeholders to confront addiction and mental health, tackling the threat of violent crime, supporting and bolstering our police and fire departments, fighting for bail reform, along with enforcing our ordinances, and providing more affordable and transitional housing. We must address the homeless crisis with empathy, creating opportunities for those in need while requiring accountability for those impacted.

On economic development, Manchester must become more business-friendly. We can do that by reducing burdensome regulations in order to encourage growth. Our citizens, facing a variety of economic concerns, need a break and deserve a tax cut. We cannot spend money we don’t have while hiking taxes to compensate.

In education, we should encourage innovation, protect parental rights, and make sure that with fewer children enrolled in public schools, we stop the cycle of spending more and start spending better.

To respond to these challenges, one thing is clear—we need a new perspective in City Hall.

We need to elect a fiscally responsible leader with a fresh vision that will tackle homelessness, public safety, and economic development head-on. We need someone who can collaborate and solve problems, not perpetuate partisan politics.

We need someone who can lead by example and bring people together while offering a vision for the future.

There is no reason Manchester cannot and should not be the envy of all Northern New England, but that will not happen on its own.

Our choice is clear.

Do we wish to usher in a new era in city government? One that solves problems, and promises an even brighter day for our Queen City. An effort rooted in a common interest— a Manchester that works for us all.

Or do we wish to continue with the status quo while challenges go unmet?

I’m realistic about the obstacles we face, but I am also optimistic about our future because I have lived a life where failure need not be final. I have a deep and abiding love for our city, and I believe its strength comes from you and your resilience.

The choice is ours.

DISCLAIMER: Jay Ruais is a soldier in the Army National Guard. References to his military profession and service do not imply endorsement by the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense.