Contrary to information circulated in several student e-mail newsletters over the past few weeks, Ward 1 Alderman Ben Healey ’04 said he is not responsible for selecting his own successor and people interested in becoming alderman should s,top e-mailing him.
An announcement that was sent out to three separate e-mail lists said Healey was “on a hunt for a successor” and encouraged students interested in the position to contact Healey directly by e-mail. The message also stated that “women of color” in particular were sought for the position. But Healey said he currently has no plans to step down before the end of his term and that people interested in becoming alderman should not contact him.
“I am not the one who picks my successor,” Healey said. “It’s a democratic process.”
Healey said he was frustrated by the announcement, which he said originated from a comment he made to a friend that he would not seek reelection next year. Healey said this fact was distorted in the message that ultimately circulated by e-mail.
The message was first sent to the Yale Pre-Law Society e-mail list and was then picked up by The Urban List before being included in the Dwight Hall “D-Holla” e-mail. The managers of The Urban List and D-Holla said they will stop publishing the announcement and that they regret the misunderstanding. The manager of the Pre-Law Society list did not respond to calls Tuesday.
Even if Healey were to step down, he said he would not appoint his successor. Instead, the Ward 1 Democratic Committee would present a list of three candidates to the mayor, who would choose a replacement from the list to serve out the remainder of Healey’s term.
Healey himself first became alderman in August 2001 by this process. After winning the endorsement of the Ward 1 Democratic Committee, he was nominated by Mayor John DeStefano Jr. to fill the position vacated by Julio Gonzalez ’99.
Healey estimated that he has received “a couple dozen” responses from people interested in becoming alderman. He said he responded to each e-mail saying the announcement was issued in error and encouraged people interested in running for alderman to approach the Ward 1 Democratic Committee instead.
The committee is charged with the task of finding and endorsing a nominee in time for next year’s aldermanic election. The committee’s co-chairs, Nazneen Mehta ’06 and Amia Srinivasan ’07, are currently in the process of rebuilding the 50-person committee, filling a number of spots that were vacated by students who graduated in 2004.
Before Thanksgiving, Mehta and Srinivasan asked for applications to be on the committee in an e-mail sent to all registered Democrats in Ward 1. The e-mail included five questions for students to answer, describing their experience and interest in local politics.
“We’re interested in getting as many people involved as possible,” Srinivasan said. “We want a wide range of participation so we make this as democratic a process as possible.”
Healey is currently working with the Ward 1 Democratic Committee in what he described as an advisory role, to help prepare for next year’s election.
“My advice has been basically to make sure that everyone understands the role of the committee, that what they’re going to do is not pick someone who is going to be dealing with other Yale students but mostly in terms of the business of the city,” Healey said. “The goal is to build a committee that can really understand what the role of the alderman is.”