Living in Timothy Dwight, I have never been jealous of the other colleges for their Gothic architecture or their spots on Old Campus. However, I have often felt that I was missing out because my beloved TD was not located in Ward 1. The Ward 22 students in Timothy Dwight, Silliman, Morse and Ezra Stiles rarely engage in their aldermanic elections to the same degree as our friends in Ward 1.
Yet Yale students make up a third of Ward 22. The other two-thirds of the district are located in the Dixwell community. The incorrect and unfortunate perception in the past has been that Yale students and Dixwell residents could not find a politician to unite their interests. I believe that Gregory Morehead, a 29-year-old entrepreneur and father of three, has a positive vision that will not only strengthen New Haven, but also help to unite Yale students with the Dixwell community. That’s why I’m proud that the Yale College Democrats are endorsing Greg Morehead for Ward 22 alderman in the April 16 special election.
I first met Greg at a contentious open meeting of Ward 22 residents. It was immediately clear that he was not the typical politician. As various participants of the meeting traded accusations, Greg opted against throwing barbs. Greg told me that he was not interested in finding individuals to blame for the problems of the city or the ward. Rather, Greg wanted the politicians to create a forward-looking vision of how to improve the lives of their residents, especially the youth.
Greg’s commitment to youth services and education stems from his life experience. Greg grew up around drugs and violence, but because of the public school system, a caring family and his individual determination, he was able to become a successful musician and businessman. (Morehead has played the drums at Carnegie Hall, at Madison Square Garden and on Saturday Night Live.) His concern for youth services is also heightened by the fact that he has three young children.
Two factors distinguish Morehead’s plans for youth services. First, he wants to work with the city to open a 24-hour youth center. With his business background, Morehead is uniquely qualified to put together a public-private partnership to create the center. In the Dixwell community, there is an especially large need for a 24-hour youth center because the “Q House,” the neighborhood’s longtime youth center, was recently shut down. Rather than focus solely on the restoration of the “Q House,” it’s time to open a youth center for the next generation of Dixwell residents.
Second, Morehead wants to collaborate with Yale students to work on youth services and education. Many Yale students and organizations already are passionate about education in New Haven. This semester, there has been a discussion on campus about how Yale students can better coordinate with the city to ensure that our energy and ideas are helping the New Haven students as effectively as possible. Morehead will have the unique perspective of representing Dixwell families as well as Yale students. By actively engaging both the Dixwell neighborhood and Yale students, Morehead will strengthen both communities.
Morehead’s other policy proposals demonstrate his commitment to progressive ideals and his entrepreneurial mindset. Morehead wants to encourage economic development throughout the city. It benefits both Yale students and New Haven residents when we work together to build an economic development plan that not only attracts outside businesses downtown but also encourages local entrepreneurs to start businesses. Morehead also wants to renew New Haven’s commitment to community policing, which has previously proved to decrease both crime and police brutality.
The Yale College Democrats will be sponsoring an event next Wednesday at which Morehead will detail more of his policy proposals. The Dems will also be registering voters in Ward 22 tonight from 8 to 10. The mail-in registration deadline for the Special Election is April 2.
I want to encourage Ward 22 residents, especially those who have never been politically active, to get involved in Morehead’s campaign. Ward 22’s combination of two very different communities presents us with an exciting opportunity. Perhaps in a country full of gerrymandered congressional districts, politicians have forgotten that the true goal of democracy is to bring together people of differing backgrounds to work for the common good. In addition to his policy proposals, a deeper proposition underlines Greg Morehead’s run for Ward 22 alderman: It’s time for the Dixwell neighborhood and Yale students to build a common agenda to strengthen both communities.
Eric Kafka is a junior in Timothy Dwight College. He is president of the Yale College Democrats.