With the end of a 24-day strike by Yale’s unions, the aldermanic race in Ward 1 is likely to shift focus as incumbent Ben Healey ’04 and challenger Daniel Kruger ’04 try to drum up support on the Yale campus.
Prior to last week’s settlement, the two candidates had expressed very different opinions concerning the labor dispute between Yale and locals 34 and 35. In particular, Kruger — who is running as an independent — criticized Healey for putting union supporters before Yale students, who comprise the vast majority of voters in Ward 1.
Kruger said Wednesday night he hoped the settlement would encourage voters to look beyond the strike and reassess Healey’s tenure.
“We don’t want to be arguing over the merits of a strike that everyone is happy is over,” Kruger said. “We want to talk about Ben’s record and what we can do differently.”
Healey also said the end of the strike changed the dynamic of the campaign, encouraging a discussion about the two candidates’ larger platforms.
“It returns a sense of normality to campus life and lets us focus on the long-term issues,” Healey said. “The strike was a moment of crisis, but the job of being alderman is about serving over the longer term.”
Healey’s campaign received a boost Wednesday night as the Yale College Democrats endorsed the incumbent. Healey is already the official Democratic nominee, but the College Democrats decided to hold a debate last week between the two candidates before choosing whom to support in Ward 1.
Kruger said after the College Democrats announced their endorsement that he was pleased the organization chose to hold a debate despite Healey’s long-standing ties to the group. The Yale College Republicans have not yet decided whether they will endorse a candidate in Ward 1.
Nirupam Sinha ’05, vice president of the College Democrats, said the endorsement reflected the group’s satisfaction with Healey’s tenure.
“He’s got a proven track record on issues that people who are part of the Yale College Democrats care about,” Sinha said.
Although the endorsement was the first issued by any campus organization, both candidates have already begun their get-out-the-vote efforts, registering new voters and canvassing the Yale campus. Although only 129 of the ward’s 850 registered Democrats came out to vote in the September Democratic primary, both said they believed turnout would be significantly higher when New Haven residents vote in the general election on Nov. 4.
Kruger said he would focus his message over the next six weeks on Healey’s failure to communicate with his constituents. Throughout the course of the strike, Kruger said Healey’s support of the unions was indicative of the alderman’s tendency to tell students what to think rather than listening to them.
“The debate has to go back to Ben’s record, which is one of very little consultation in the past two years,” Kruger said. “I will stand for what student opinion is, and that’s why I stood against the strike.”
Healey said he would center his campaign around his record on issues like public safety, the development of downtown New Haven, and civil rights. The incumbent also said the settlement proved Kruger was wrong when he said in last week’s debate that the leadership of locals 34 and 35 were not looking out for the best interests of rank-and-file workers.
“It’s a lot harder to say that the union leadership was duping its members when they walk out with pensions that are double what they were before,” Healey said.