Voters will go to the polls today at Dwight Hall and throughout the city to elect New Haven’s mayor and all 30 of the city’s aldermen.
In Ward 1, Democratic incumbent Alderman Ben Healey ’04 is trying to defend his seat against a challenge from independent Dan Kruger ’04 in one of the most competitive general election races the Yale-dominated ward has seen in recent years. While several other wards may feature close elections today, candidates in 20 of the city’s 30 wards are running uncontested races.
Mayor John DeStefano Jr. will also be running for a sixth term today, but he is not expected to face a serious challenge from his only opponent, Ralph Ferrucci, a member of the independent Guilty Party.
With fewer than 24 hours remaining in their campaigns, both Healey and Kruger said they were focusing their efforts on bringing voters out to the polls. While the two candidates said they were uncertain as to how high turnout will be, both Healey and Kruger said interest in the race has been high in Ward 1.
Ward 1 includes eight Yale colleges and Old Campus, while Ezra Stiles, Morse, Silliman and Timothy Dwight colleges, along with Swing Space, lie in Ward 22. Voters who originally registered in a ward but moved out within the last year can still vote in their original ward, so both Ward 1 candidates have been campaigning among Pierson students living in Swing Space.
Kruger said on Monday that unlike recent years, when general elections in Ward 1 have gone uncontested, this year’s race has generated excitement on both sides.
“There’s a real difference here, and I think people understand that,” Kruger said. “People understand that Ben and I are standing for different platforms.”
On Monday, Healey’s campaign tried to further emphasize those differences by hosting an event at Dwight Hall that included speeches from DeStefano and the leaders of several student groups Healey has worked with during his term in office, including the Yale Student Environmental Coalition, Students for Clean Elections and Project Orange, a group that advocates gay rights.
At the end of the event, which about 35 people attended, Healey urged his supporters to come to the polls to help him continue the work he has done in his two and a half years as alderman.
“We are here to make a statement,” Healey said. “We have a vision for a stronger, a safer and a more progressive New Haven.”
Healey and Kruger have expressed similar views on several issues — both support extending domestic partnership rights to same-sex couples, and both speak frequently about civil rights, homelessness and the environment. But the two have also clashed on issues related to Yale’s unions, while they have also argued about whether Healey has adequately communicated with his constituents.
In two debates, Kruger criticized Healey for his support of the three-week strike earlier this fall by Yale’s two largest unions locals 34 and 35, which represent 4,000 maintenance, technical and clerical workers. In response, Healey has argued that the strike was in the best interest of Yale students and the New Haven community and that his connections to the unions are no more important than Kruger’s ties to Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs, where Kruger worked last year.
While DeStefano appeared at a Healey campaign event for the first time on Monday, he has focused much of his energy on the city’s aldermanic races since defeating former Empower New Haven CEO Sherri Killins in the September Democratic primary. At the event, the mayor praised Healey for displaying the political skills necessary to get legislation passed before the Board of Aldermen.
“Ben is not a Yale alderman,” DeStefano said. “He is a good alderman. He connects with other people, and he connects around good ideas.”
Elsewhere throughout the city, the four wards currently held by non-Democrats — two Greens and two Republicans — are all being fiercely contested. In Wards 2 and 9 — both of which include many Yale graduate students — incumbent Alderwoman Joyce Chen ’01 and Vic Edgerton EPH FES ’03 are trying to defend Green seats against Democrats Andre Baker and Elizabeth Addonizio GRD ’06, respectively.
In Ward 22, incumbent Alderwoman Mae Ola Riddick is running a write-in campaign against Drew King, who defeated her in the September Democratic primary.