As both Yale students and residents of Ward 2, we believe that Frank Douglass is far and away the best candidate in Tuesday’s election. Douglass has the commitment, relationships and experience needed to work effectively on the Board of Aldermen and represent the members of his community.
Unlike Ward 1 and Ward 22, which largely consist of Yale students, Ward 2 is not primarily a student ward — less than 20 percent of the area’s residents are undergraduate and graduate students. Ward 2 needs an alderman who will be able to relate to student concerns but also has the interests of the neighborhood’s more permanent residents at heart. Having lived in New Haven for over 50 years, Douglass knows well the ins and outs of his community. He has raised his children in the city, and understands the needs of youth and their families. He has worked at Yale for nearly 20 years, and knows firsthand the experience of New Haven’s working residents. At the same time, his experience working at Yale gives him the ability to relate to students that is necessary for a Ward 2 alderman. Douglass may not have Gina Calder’s Yale degree, but he has deep roots within New Haven and a commitment to the city and its people which is unparalleled. Having made his life in New Haven, we believe that he will work tirelessly for the interests of his neighbors and will not give in to outside pressures.
Secondly, though some articles in this paper have painted Calder’s decision to ignore the issue between the Service International Employees Union Local 1199 and Yale-New Haven Hospital as bold and courageous, we believe that it instead represents a lack of commitment to the city and a shallow understanding of what is really at stake at the hospital. Not only has Calder claimed that the conflict between the union and the hospital is not a central issue, but she also has called it a distraction from the “real issues” in New Haven and has failed entirely to criticize the hospital administration for breaking the Community Benefits Agreement and federal labor law.
In a debate sponsored by the Black Students Alliance at Yale last Tuesday, Calder demonstrated her lack of understanding of the issue or how it will affect New Haven’s workers. Rather than answering a question about how she felt about the hospital issue, Calder simply posed further rhetorical questions, asking “what we can do” beyond the union issue to ensure that workers will have good career opportunities. Yale-New Haven is this city’s second-largest employer. For the 1,800 workers at Yale-New Haven Hospital, the issue is most definitely a real one, and one that has tangible ramifications for New Haven’s families.
Frank Douglass not only believes in the fundamental importance of good quality jobs, but he understands how the issue is related to other concerns of Ward 2 residents. Despite claims by the press and Calder’s campaign that he is a one-issue candidate and only concerned with the hospital issue, Douglass in fact has a broad understanding of the challenges facing his neighbors. The union issue is not the first thing he brings up in conversations or in his literature — instead, he focuses on reducing crime in the Dwight area and providing more opportunities for youth. Douglass understands that stable jobs for hundreds of New Haven workers are integral to building strong, safe neighborhoods in the city. No number of additional policemen on duty can equal the impact of parents whose secure, well-paying jobs allow them to provide for their children and raise a stable family. We believe that Douglass will address the concerns of his community without hiding from difficult and controversial issues.
Finally, Calder’s behavior in her 2005 campaign for alderwoman suggests that she is hardly trustworthy in the benevolent claims that she makes. During that election, Calder signaled to many constituents that if elected alderman she would support the domestic partnership legislation being introduced to the Board of Aldermen. It was for this reason that many volunteers became involved in Calder’s campaign, despite having supported her opponent Joyce Chen in the past. However, in the final weeks before the election, Calder made a dramatic reversal in her position, opposing the legislation and betraying those who had devoted time and energy to her campaign. We believe this record speaks for itself.
Frank Douglass is straightforward about his views and dependable in his beliefs. Douglass is a leader in his community and in his workplace, and will continue that leadership citywide as Ward 2’s next alderman.
Margaret Sharp and Lauren Jacobson are seniors in Ezra Stiles College.