New Haven Green Party co-chair and former congressional candidate Charlie Pillsbury ’70 DIV ’90 announced yesterday he will run for Ward 19 alderman unless current Ward 19 Alderwoman Alfreda Edwards decides to seek reelection.
Pillsbury said he will attend community meetings in the coming weeks, and plans to begin making phone calls and going door-to-door after Labor Day. He said he decided to run because he thinks the seat will be open.
Edwards did not return phone calls last night inquiring about her plans.
Pillsbury — who roomed with Gary Trudeau ’70 at Yale and was in part the basis for the comic character Mike Doonesbury — said he is interested in local issues such as crime, traffic and schools, but he would also push for election reform and environmental issues, in particular clean air.
“I myself contracted asthma while living in this city, and up to 20 or 25 percent of the school-age children in this town suffer from mild or severe asthma,” he said. “That’s a major public health issue.”
With regard to Yale-New Haven Hospital’s cancer center expansion proposal, which is currently before the Board of Aldermen, Pillsbury said he would like to see the hospital’s employees vote on unionization before the cancer center is approved.
“We all recognize the need for a world-class cancer facility,” he said. “At the same time, I think the only way to make it world class is to have an organized labor force.”
New Haven Director of Public Information Derek Slap said Mayor John DeStefano Jr. believes Edwards has been a strong advocate for her ward.
“The mayor understands that she’s deciding whether to run right now, and that’s her decision and something that she needs to ultimately make on her own,” Slap said. “The mayor feels that she’s done a great job for her constituents and would certainly support her candidacy … We’re just waiting to see what she’s going to do before we go anywhere else.”
Ward 1 Alderman Ben Healey ’04 said that, as far as he knows, Edwards has told members of the Board of Aldermen she does not plan to run for reelection.
Healey said he thinks that Pillsbury has done good work in the community on clean elections, progressive taxation and environmental causes, in addition to giving to various local philanthropic causes.
“While I have some disagreements with the Green Party, I feel that Charlie has excellent values, and I think he would make a great alderman,” Healey said.
Ward 2 Alderwoman Joyce Chen ’01 is currently the only Green Party member on the Board of Aldermen.
Pillsbury said he would not run against Edwards because she is a popular incumbent among Ward 19 residents.
Pillsbury graduated from Yale in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in Latin American studies. Since 1989, he has served as executive director of Community Mediation, a local nonprofit dedicated to enabling individuals and communities to resolve disputes amicably.
He ran against U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro for Congress in 2002 and lost to Edwards in the 2003 Ward 19 aldermanic race.