DeStefano to answer citizens’ questions on biweekly television program

New Haven might not be Hollywood, but Mayor John DeStefano Jr.’s television career is on the rise nonetheless.

After a multi-year hiatus, DeStefano is resurrecting his bimonthly show “In Touch with Mayor DeStefano,” in which he will discuss topics ranging from city park development to Yale’s forthcoming expansion into Dixwell. The show, which DeStefano briefly resurrected prior to his gubernatorial campaign, will next air on May 23.

Mayoral spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga, who will produce the program, said “In Touch” is part of the mayor’s recent attempt to reach out to all of New Haven’s neighborhoods.

“The show is not about his ideas or his platform — it’s really about addressing the issues facing New Haven residents,” Mayorga said. “This show is about answering the questions that citizens need answered.”

The show will feature guests around a relevant city issue, and DeStefano will also field phone calls from residents during the show.

Programs on public access television starring a city mayor are not unprecedented, but they have debuted to mixed reactions and generally have not managed to last through multiple terms. In Yonkers, for example, former mayor John Spencer televised a program for several years called “Yonkers Matters,” in which he purported to focus on “the issues” but instead turned the show into a political bully pulpit, rarely inviting guests who disagreed strongly with him.

But DeStefano is casting his program as apolitical.

“The goal is to ensure that all of you feel more connected to what we’re doing in City Hall,” DeStefano said in his Monday Message to city residents. “That I am able to personally respond to your needs.”

Mayorga said the mayor might involve Yalies in a fall program dedicated to discussion of the possible new residential colleges.

“In Touch” will air on Channel 23.

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