Michael Jones ’11, a member of the Yale College Democrats and the Yale Black Men’s Union, announced Wednesday evening he would run for the Ward 1 aldermanic seat in this fall’s municipal elections.
Jones, a Saybrook College political science major from Winston-Salem, N.C., will campaign for the seat currently held by Rachel Plattus ’09. Plattus, who will graduate from Yale this May, has not yet announced whether she plans to run for a second term, and did not return three requests for comment Wednesday.
No other individuals have announced that they will run for Ward 1 alderman in the upcoming elections.
According to friends of Jones, he would like to use his position to establish a comprehensive health education program in New Haven schools and to encourage greater Yale-New Haven integration.
“I want to help address the concerns of those who may not have much of a voice in the city government — including the young and homeless,” Jones said in the e-mail.
Indeed, Matthew Ellison, Jones’ campaign manager, said Jones views the Ward 1 alderman as having a unique role as liaison between Yale students and the city of New Haven.
Jones has been certain that he will run for the seat since before Thanksgiving break, said one Yale student close to Jones who asked to remain anonymous.
“He told me he was running about 10 days ago,” Bradford Williams ’10, a friend of Jones, said.
When asked to comment Wednesday afternoon about his then-unannounced candidacy, Jones said he did not want to be rushed into declaring his candidacy before he was ready. Jones said he was planning to announce his candidacy on Jan. 22.
Hours later, at about 8:45 p.m. Wednesday, Jones officially declared his candidacy via an e-mailed press release.
In reaction to Jones’ announcement, members of the Yale community were enthused, but said it was not unexpected.
Said Arjan Singh ’11, another friend of Jones: “I am not surprised — he seems like the type of person to run for office.”
And Ben Stango ’11, president of the Yale College Democrats, added, “It is always exciting to see students stepping up and standing up for the issues for students and their communities.”
Last semester, Jones enrolled in a Davenport College seminar entitled The American Concept of Citizenship. Professor Kenneth Harbaugh LAW ’08, who taught the class, said Jones was a student who understood the responsibilities of being an American citizen. Throughout the class, Harbaugh said, Jones expressed his desire to give back to his country through public service.
“Within the class, Mike in particular exuded this sense of duty,” Harbaugh said. “Mike was particularly open-minded about what it would be to serve your country, and he held fast to this idea that we owe something, especially if your country isn’t perfect.”
Jones’ engagement in the class was not grounded in the theoretical “ether of Yale,” Harbaugh said. Instead, he maintained, Jones understood that the class’s theoretical arguments could have real effects, if enacted.
Harbaugh said Jones attended all but one of the seminar’s classes — that which met the Wednesday after the presidential election.
“I would vote for him,” Harbaugh said.
The aldermanic elections will not occur until Nov. 3, 2009. But the Democratic primaries, to be held this year on Sept. 15, 2009, usually indicate the future winner of the election.
To win an endorsement from the Democratic Town Committee for the primaries, Jones will almost definitely have to garner an endorsement from the Democratic Ward 1 Committee. Ward 1 Committee endorsements are typically decided in the spring.
Zeke Miller contributed reporting.