Letter: Keep asking me questions

I feel compelled to respond to Hugh Baran’s column published yesterday that criticizes my campaign (“Candidate(s) short on ideas,” Jan. 29).

At our kickoff event last Thursday, I outlined my platform. The vision I articulated at that event was not narrow; it was pragmatic. Furthermore, it is intended to be a starting point, not an entirely comprehensive list of the things I plan to do as alderman. In order to take those ideas and turn them into policies, I plan to have discussions and events with students and community leaders about issues that matter to our community. Through those conversations, we will develop realistic plans to address those issues. My platform will be constantly updated throughout this process, and more specific plans will continuously emerge.

Over the past two weeks, I have had a number of conversations with a wide array of students from our community. Baran or anyone else who would like to discuss my candidacy or my vision for the city should contact me for accurate information.

In that spirit of responding to student concerns, I am more than happy to respond to the specific issues Baran raises.

While I agree with him that it would be fantastic if Yale were to increase its voluntary contribution to the city, it is important to recognize that this contribution is, in fact, voluntary. As Ward 1 alderman, I would not have any more power to persuade Yale to increase this contribution than any of our representatives on the Yale College Council. In fact, I would probably have less. The state of Connecticut is obligated, however, to fund its own Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program, which provides municipalities with funding to replace property tax income lost by properties owned by institutions which do not pay property taxes — like Yale. Urging the state to fulfill its own mandate would be a far more constructive use of my time as an alderman.

I do think local government provides us with some exciting opportunities to improve our city. I think we will take advantage of those opportunities as we work for comprehensive health education in our schools, assistance for our homeless population, and increased opportunities to engage young people like ourselves all across New Haven. While doing so, we will be cognizant of the city’s current economic state, because anything else would be totally irresponsible.

I agree with Baran that this campaign offers a great opportunity to discuss important issues, and I will continue to do so even if no other candidate enters the race. I invite all Yale students, and other folks across our city, to join me in this conversation so that we can work together to form a vision for a better New Haven.

Michael Jones

Jan. 29

The writer is a sophomore in Saybrook College and a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Ward 1 alderman.

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