With just over a week before next Tuesday’s aldermanic primary elections, three of the Democratic candidates from the three wards encompassing Yale’s campus campaigned in front of a small crowd in the Calhoun College common room to further reach out to Yale undergraduates.
The three candidates — Rebecca Livengood ’07 of Ward 1, Drew King of Ward 22, and Gina Calder ’03 of Ward 2 will face different levels of competition in the next eight days. Livengood does not have to run in a primary election, and Drew King, an incumbent, will face challenger Cordelia Thorpe, who was solidly defeated in a race to become co-chair of the Ward 22 Democratic Committee in 2004. Calder faces stiff competition in next week’s election, going up against incumbent Ward 2 Alderwoman Joyce Chen ’01.
“The next week and a half, the focus is going to be mainly on Gina,” said Adam Barth ’07, political director of the New Haven Action Fund, an independent PAC that sponsored the discussion and is helping with the campaigns of these three candidates.
Wards 1, 2 and 22 comprise Yale’s campus and its immediate environs: Ward 2 includes the area around Howe and Park streets behind Pierson College where many upperclassmen and graduate students live, Ward 22 includes Swing Space and Timothy Dwight, Silliman, Ezra Stiles, and Morse colleges, and Ward 1 includes the other seven residential colleges and Old Campus.
The candidates, all of whom were endorsed by their wards’ Democratic committees, focused on different issues in introducing their campaign platforms, although they largely agreed with each other’s proposals.
“They’re running separate campaigns, but they all support each other,” Barth said. “Each one would like the other two to get elected.”
King, whose ward also includes the Dixwell area behind the Payne Whitney Gymnasium, addressed the need for mentors and park space for youth in his ward, where he said there was until recently “a lot of shooting and killing and drug selling.” Calder too discussed issues of public safety, mentioning frequently the recent spate of violence around Lynwood Avenue, which she attributed to the closing of a police substation on Park Street. Livengood, on the other hand, focused primarily on the need to encourage responsible development in the city, suggesting that the recently closed York Square Cinema be revived as a neighborhood-based cooperatively run theater.
The three candidates also stressed the need for students to volunteer and become involved with their local wards so that the Board of Aldermen could respond to their needs.
“If there’s any issues we need to deal with, I’m there for support,” King said. “I’m looking forward to seeing students getting involved in the community.”
King said he had been working with students on campus to canvass door-to-door, in addition to meeting frequently with students over meals to discuss the state of Ward 22, particularly its recent revitalization.
In the Ward 22 primary, King is campaigning against Thorpe, who announced her candidacy in mid-August.
Calder, who is in the more difficult position of running against an relatively high-profile incumbent, said she has also been working on outreach to students in her ward, through door-to-door campaigning as well as through her Web site, ginacalder.com. She said that even though most students she has spoken with are hearing about their ward’s issues for the first time, her message, particularly as it pertains to public safety, has been resonating with most of her audience. Chen has also addressed issues of public safety in her campaign literature.
“I’ve been personally out knocking on doors trying to talk to students,” Calder said. “For the most part, I’ve had a really positive response.”
She said her campaign’s biggest job is voter registration, especially as this Thursday is the last day voters can mail in registrations and be eligible to vote in next week’s primary, the vote which Calder emphasized was likely to be the most important in determining whether she was elected as Ward 2’s alderwoman.
“I’m going to focus mostly on the primary, because in New Haven a lot of elections are decided at the primary level,” Calder said. “There’s such a strong Democratic presence here.”
Of the city’s 30 aldermen, all are Democrats except Arlene DePino, a Republican.