Rawls-Ivy steps down from board

Ward 28 Alderwoman Barbara Rawls-Ivy, who pled guilty Monday to embezzling almost $50,000 from a local nonprofit, announced Thursday that she would resign her seat on the Board of Aldermen.

Rawls-Ivy is potentially one of three aldermen resigning this month. Ward 14 Alderman Joe Jolly is planning to resign because he has moved to Ithaca to attend Cornell Law School, and Ward 9 Alderwoman Elizabeth Addonizio GRD ’09 of East Rock may resign to care for an ill relative. Elections for all three seats will likely be held on Election Day, Nov. 7.

In a letter to Board President Carl Goldfield, Rawls-Ivy apologized for her crime and said she has lost the trust necessary to continue holding public office. Rawls-Ivy had admitted to embezzling funds from the nonprofit Alliance for Strong Communities that had been earmarked for public-housing anti-drug efforts, and both Goldfield and Mayor John DeStefano Jr. had urged her to resign her seat.

“I am profoundly sorry that I have broken a sacred trust of those I was hired to serve,” she wrote. “I take full responsibility for my actions and have taken the necessary steps to ensure that my crime does not go unpunished.”

Each of the departing aldermen — Rawls-Ivy, Jolly and potentially Addonizio — have been strong supporters of Goldfield, who won a fierce battle for the aldermanic presidency in January against his predecessor, Ward 5 Alderman Jorge Perez, and many aldermen said they hoped the upcoming races would focus on ward issues, not citywide politics.

“Things have certainly changed since a year ago — so many factors are different,” Jolly said.

Jolly said New Haven’s effort to establish publicly funded elections is the one item on the city’s agenda that could be affected by the board’s changed composition. Jolly and Addonizio, along with Goldfield, have been instrumental in designing a plan for publicly funded mayoral elections, following the passage of legislation by the state assembly in December that would allow New Haven to establish such a system. But although Jolly said the program is complex, he said enough progress has been made that the system is on solid footing.

Jolly has already moved to Ithaca, but Addonizio has not yet decided whether she will finish her second term, according to Paul Wessel, the co-chair of Ward 9’s Democratic Town Committee. Wessel said Addonizio is trying to juggle professional and family commitments in New York City and Long Island with her political commitment in New Haven. He said he expects she will announce any decision to resign in time for the Nov. 7 elections.

Rawls-Ivy, who will be sentenced at a hearing Dec. 4, faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. As part of her plea, she must also repay the money she stole.

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