When Daniel Kruger ’04 decided to challenge incumbent Ben Healey ’04 in this fall’s election for Ward 1 alderman, he found out that Connecticut law did not make it very difficult for him to get on the ballot. In fact, Kruger only needed to get a petition signed by a number equivalent to 1 percent of the voters in the ward in the prior election — requiring him to get a whopping three signatures.
But while getting on the ballot was easy for Kruger, capturing Healey’s seat — which represents most of Yale — may be somewhat more difficult. Healey, who is currently serving his first term, is running unopposed on Sept. 9 for the Democratic nomination in a ward that tends to overwhelmingly favor the Democratic Party in local elections.
But Kruger, who is running as an independent, said he can effectively challenge Healey’s record of providing constituent services and Healey’s position on the ongoing strike of locals 34 and 35. While Healey has supported the unions, Kruger said he opposes the strike because he feels it was specifically timed to target Yale students and their parents.
“I personally support many of the goals of the unions, especially Local 34 and especially on the issue of pensions,” Kruger said. “[But] I think I can criticize the tactics of — union management that harm the poorest and the most vulnerable members of the unions themselves.”
Kruger, who announced his candidacy in July, also said Healey has not been effective at communicating with Yale students or advocating issues like airport extension that might better benefit Yale students.
In response to Kruger’s comments, Healey said his record, including efforts to increase community policing in the city and to pass an initiative that would recognize same-sex domestic partnerships, illustrated his commitment to voters in Ward 1.
“My primary message is that I have a record of experience and commitment to the students I represent — and I believe the work I’ve done reflects that,” Healey said. “I’ve never left an e-mail unreturned or a phone call unanswered.”
Healey, who said he looked forward to a “frank discussion” over the coming months, also said he hoped the strike would end as soon as possible.
“I believe that both the administration and the unions have a responsibility to find a resolution to it,” Healey said.
Both candidates said they are raising funds and recruiting volunteers to prepare for a full-scale campaign in the weeks leading up to the election. The two candidates will square off in a vote on Sept. 16 sponsored by the Yale College Democrats. While Healey will be the Democratic nominee on the ballot in November, Yale College Democrats president Alicia Washington ’05 said the group would wait until after the debate to endorse a candidate, even though she said most of her group’s members were pleased with Healey’s record during his first term.
Local 35 President Bob Proto, who has worked closely with Healey in the past, said the incumbent would have the full support of his union’s members.
“Ben Healey is someone who took the time to understand what this struggle is about,” Proto said. “We will help Ben in any way Ben needs.”