Clark may be eyeing Ward 7

New Haven’s next aldermanic elections are more than 13 months away, but political currents are already swirling in at least one of the city’s 30 wards.

Frances “Bitsie” Clark, the longtime executive director of the Greater New Haven Arts Council, is eyeing a run for Ward 7 alderwoman, city hall sources said this week. Current Ward 7 Alderwoman Dolores Colon, who recently purchased a new home at 34 Salem St., will no longer reside in the ward when she moves this year.

Clark, 71, retired on June 30 after 19 years at the helm of the arts council. Neither Clark nor Colon returned repeated phone calls this week.

Ward 7 currently includes part of the Hill neighborhood and part of downtown New Haven, including Pierson and Davenport colleges. But under a new redistricting plan that will go into effect before the elections, the ward will move out of the Hill and shift completely downtown, bordering the New Haven Green along Chapel Street. The ward will include no Yale dorms under the new plan.

By virtue of her position with the arts council, Clark was in many ways the most prominent member of the New Haven arts community. During her tenure, Clark was credited with developing the city’s Audubon Street arts district.

For the most part, however, she worked behind the scenes to promote the organization’s efforts within the city.

New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said he had talked to Clark about a possible bid but was uncertain if she had made a firm decision.

“I think Bitsie would be a terrific candidate,” DeStefano said. “But a lot of people are going to have to think about it, including Bitsie.”

Victor Corona, one of two party co-chairs who oversees Democratic politics in Ward 7, said Clark has expressed interest in running for a seat on the Board of Aldermen for several years but could not because of her position on the Arts Council.

Corona said he did not know if Clark would run in 2003.

“There’s a lot of time left before the election,” he said.

Despite Clark’s behind-the-scenes work ethic, her outgoing personality made her popular with local television stations and newspapers.

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