Ward 2 Alderwoman Gina Calder ’05 EPH ’08 confirmed to the News on Sunday night that she will run for a second term on the Board of Aldermen.
Elected to the Board of Alderman in November 2007, Calder defeated a union supported opponent to represent Ward 2, home to many Yale students who live off-campus in the Dwight neighborhood. Calder said she plans to continue working on the community youth outreach programs that defined her previous term. No one else has publicly announced a plan to run against her.
Calder said she believes it is important for her to run for a second term because, in her view, no alderman can achieve lasting change within the community in a single two-year stint on the Board of Aldermen.
“Anytime you commit to being a part of a legislative body, you have to have a longtime vision,” Calder said. “There’s not much you can get accomplished in one, or even two, terms.”
Indeed, if re-elected, Calder said, she plans to initiate more youth programs that will encourage young New Haven residents to become involved in the city’s political process. Since winning her seat, Calder has concentrated her efforts on the children and teenagers of her community, working to ensure that they have the access to after-school programs and the means to become involved in the neighborhood.
Last year, Calder honored a group of Yale students with official aldermanic citations for their get-out-the-vote efforts in the November elections. Additionally, she helped to promote the passage of national legislation that would provide grant money to curb gun violence and youth crime within the community. A constricted budget, however, will change things for her second term.
“One of the things we will have to determine this coming budget year is how best to prioritize, because clearly we’re not going to be able to afford everything we want to do,” Calder said. “So we need to get the biggest bang for our buck and figure out how to partner with local non-profit organizations.”
Though Calder’s focus on youth initiatives and youth-oriented programs may seem one-dimensional, Aldermanic President Carl Goldfield said she is “smart” to concentrate on one vein of work, especially because she is a first-term alderwoman. Because she is still relatively new on the Board, Goldfield said, her primary responsibility is to respond to the issues specifically facing her ward, rather than attempting to tackle all of the city’s problems at once.
“As a new alderperson, you could become overwhelmed,” Goldfield said. “As far as other issues and initiatives you might want to take on, some people will end up doing nothing. But some people, like Gina, will pick one issue that they want to focus on, and that’s the smart thing to do.”
In addition to centering her efforts on youth-oriented initiatives, she has also proposed the institution of crime-prevention measures within the Dwight neighborhood. Specifically, Calder pushed the establishment of student-led neighborhood “block-watches” and requested that the University install campus blue-phones in neighborhoods populated with student living off-campus.
Calder said the recent increase in crime is a reflection of the need for her to stay on the Board of Aldermen for a second term; crime and other issues plaguing the city will only be alleviated through long-term efforts.
Ward 1 Alderwoman Rachel Plattus ’09 heads the ward that borders Calder’s — between the two of them, Plattus and Calder represent most of the University’s students.
Goldfield commented that Calder plays an important role in maintaining good relations between Yale and New Haven because she has “a foot in both camps.” But Calder maintained that her allegiance lies first and foremost with the neighborhood she represents — Ward 2.
“My role is primarily to help my community identify its own agenda before I can identify partnerships with anyone else,” Calder said.
Calder was elected to the Board of Aldermen in 2007, replacing Joyce Chen ’01, and beating Trumbull dining hall chef Frank Douglass Jr. by 28 votes.