After a heated spring, Ward 22 quiets down

And then there was one.

Almost two months after Gregory Morehead swept the Ward 22 Democratic primary election on Sept. 11, his long-time — and outspoken — opponent Cordelia Thorpe has all but given up, she said this week, even though she is a registered write-in candidate. Then again, in the effort to bring voters out to the polls, so has Morehead to some extent.

Ward 22 Alderman Greg Morehead speaks to students in Swing Space last year. He is all but guaranteed to win a two-year term in Tuesday’s election.
Ryan Galisewski
Ward 22 Alderman Greg Morehead speaks to students in Swing Space last year. He is all but guaranteed to win a two-year term in Tuesday’s election.

“For people to come out and vote three times in one year? That’s crazy!” said Morehead, who is similarly not making a push for more voters.

Just months ago, however, Ward 22 was bustling. After the arrest and ultimate resignation of former Ward 22 Alderman Rev. Drew King for alleged third degree assault, four candidates — Thorpe, Morehead, housing developer Lisa Hopkins and prison lieutenant Reggie Lytle — stepped forward for an April special election. So did the voters, including Yalies, in droves.

Morehead, who was supported in the April election by both the Democratic Party and the Yale College Democrats, ultimately secured a decisive victory in a four-way special election.

The three losing candidates in the April election vowed to return in September for the Democratic primaries and challenge Morehead again.

But after Hopkins and Thorpe — two of the three losers in the April election — lost by equally substantial margins in the primaries, the outcome of the general election has become a near certainty as the candidates, including Morehead, focus on their neglected personal lives rather than their campaigns.

“I didn’t do a lot [of campaigning] this election,” Morehead said. “Two elections in six months — it took a toll on me. I devoted all my time and effort to running, and I neglected my businesses … It’s my only income, and I have to make sure I don’t get kicked out of my home.”

Thorpe came in second during the spring election, but her vote total fell from 108 to 31 this fall. Since Morehead’s vote totals were nearly identical in both elections, many of Thorpe’s votes — along with the 31 votes from the fourth challenger in the special election, Reggie Lytle — appear to have gone to Hopkins, who saw her total rise to 114 from 57 in September.

Notwithstanding the precipitous drop in votes, Thorpe said she was still campaigning — but not as publicly or vociferously as she had done in the spring. And unlike in April, when she complained loudly that she was not given a fair opportunity to campaign for Yalie votes — she was not permitted within the college gates without an escort — she said her attention was focused solely on her community members in the Dixwell neighborhood that comprises Ward 22.

Yale students, she said, were too impressionable under the sway of the Democrats and the local party.

“Yale students — they are supposed to be thinking people,” she said. “But they just did what they were told to do. They’re just androids.”

Morehead said he has continued to publish his quarterly Ward 22 newsletter — the last issue came out in October — and his monthly ward calendar. But he said he has spent the majority of his time over the last month on his personal and financial well-being.

“I didn’t do a lot [of campaigning] this election,” he said. The elections took an equal toll on Thorpe, who credits this strain for her inability to mount an effective third challenge to Morehead this November.

“I didn’t campaign that much, this time around,” Thorpe said. “That’s why you haven’t heard of me: finances. So I’ve started my own business, a home day care center.”

Thorpe said she hoped that by next election she would have the cash to compete with the Democratic Party machine “that ran me over.”

Yale College Democrats President Eric Kafka ’08 said after the exhaustive campaigning and the aldermanic debates held during the special election, residents of Ward 22 will likely want to see how Morehead performs for a complete governing cycle before changing their minds.

New Haven’s races next Tuesday promise little, if any, surprise for students. In Ward 1, Rachel Plattus ’09 is running uncontested, and in the once-heated Ward 2, Gina Calder ’03 EPH ’08 is facing no independent challengers. On the city-wide level, incumbent mayor John DeStefano Jr., Republican H. Richter Elser ’81 and Green Party member Ralph Ferrucci are facing off for the mayoralty.

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