Gina Calder inspires even the non-political

I am not a very political person. I can’t quote every line from “The West Wing.” In fact, whenever my political-junkie roommates talk about politics, I ask myself whether the fall out of my apartment window would really hurt all that much.

Just because I do not care for this city’s politics, however, does not mean that I do not care for the city or that I am entirely oblivious to the world outside of Yale. As vice president of the Yale Entrepreneurial Society last year, I had the opportunity to meet and work with Gina Calder ’03 EPH ’08 on an initiative to teach business and organizational skills to New Haven high school students. From our first meeting, I was struck by Gina’s enthusiasm, intelligence and dedication to improving the fortunes of New Haven’s residents. Despite all my misgivings about the local political scene, I was genuinely excited to hear that Gina was running for the Board of Aldermen from my ward — Ward 2 — which covers all of the off-campus housing behind Pierson.

Since her graduation from Yale, Gina has remained an active member of the New Haven community, focusing on the health and well-being of the area’s young people. She founded and currently chairs the Youth Concerns Committee in order to give young people positive opportunities, and she works to secure jobs for young people as part of the Youth at Work program. She also holds quarterly leadership training sessions for parents in order to help the community help itself.

Despite all of Gina’s qualifications, New Haven Action, a student-run PAC, chose last week to endorse Gina’s opponent. Though my exposure to politics is limited to the buzzing noise from my roommates’ mouths whenever they “talk shop,” I know that sometimes the other candidate gets endorsed. I usually don’t take it personally — I rarely even notice. So, naturally, when I found out about the endorsement, I had to call Gina to ask her how she could have lost their endorsement. The moment she told me that New Haven Action had never contacted her during their “deliberations,” my thoughts wandered back to that increasingly appealing pavement three stories below.

I take issue with a student group that claims to represent New Haven’s best interests but bases its support on conversations with only one candidate. Maybe Yalies should not meddle in local politics if our attempts at understanding the dynamics of New Haven political campaigns are so half-hearted and insincere. Now, I never claim to be the guy with all the answers, especially when it comes to politics. But I do know that it is deceptive for any group to say that they have made such an endorsement without adding the appropriate footnote: “He was only guy we spoke to.”

Gina is the most qualified candidate in this race, and I know that when I think about who will work to make my neighborhood safer, I put my faith in her. When I ask myself who will push for better business training for New Haven students, an issue near and dear to my heart, I put my faith in her. And I know that Gina will fight for job creation that brings livable wages and ensures workers’ rights. The issues that affect the residents of the Dwight neighborhood — a neighborhood Yalies rarely venture into except during the occasional stumble back from Rudy’s — are too real and important to be dealt with haphazardly. Ward 2 needs a representative who can relate to all of his or her constituents, be they Yalies or life-long Dwight residents. That is why I will be voting for Gina Calder for Ward 2 tomorrow.

Joe Citarrella is a senior in Timothy Dwight College.

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