This article has been corrected. You may view this article’s correction here.
In the Ward 1 Aldermanic race, Elis interviewed by the News were more likely to favor a familiar face.With only a few academic weeks left before the April 17 Ward 1 Democratic primary election, the candidates — Mike Jones ’11, Katie Harrison ’11 and Minh Tran ’09 — are moving their campaigns into full swing. Although a few students confessed ignorance of the contenders and their platforms, most students interviewed said personal ties toward the candidates have had the strongest influences on their preferences.
“I know there are three candidates,” Justin Thaler ’09 said of the race for the Ward 1 seat, “but I don’t know anything about them.”
Indeed, this was a concern shared by several students interviewed: they know of the election, but admit they cannot distinguish one candidate from another.
Even self-proclaimed politically minded Elis are anxious about making a decision based on their limited knowledge.
“I don’t really know what the candidates stand for,” Kate Falkenstien ’12 said.
Rather, the students most confident in their votes are those with personal relationships with one or another of the candidates. For instance, Kevin Adkisson ’12 is a strong supporter of Tran — “He’s a great guy,” he said. But Adkisson recognized his choice was clearly biased.
“I mean, obviously,” Adkisson said. “He’s my freshman counselor.”
Similarly, in the Jones camp, personal ties play a significant role in determining voter preferences. Matthew Bedrick ’12, who said he was initially undecided, said he was won over by the Jones campaign’s “friendly and responsive” manner. Now, he said, he is considering working for the campaign.
While some students have been trying to inform themselves of the candidates’ platforms, personal connection continue to win their loyalties.
“I’ve been to all of the Web sites,” Danielle Wiggins ’12 said, adding she had even attended a campaign event for Jones.
Still, Wiggins said she remains a staunch Tran supporter because she has personally seen him act as a generous counselor to her friends.
But early campaign efforts by all three candidates have targeted at specific student groups and even particular demographics.
Harrison, a female Berkeley College student, has spoken at the Yale Women’s Center and Berkeley College. Likewise Jones, an African American Saybrook student and member of the Dems, has addressed the Black Men’s Union and Dems.
Jim Berry ’12, Tran’s co-campaign manager, stressed that Tran would similarly be targeting a range of student groups, though he did not specify any in particular.
But despite the campaigns’ efforts, most organizations have so far avoided endorsing anyone.
A.T. McWilliams ’12, a freshman ambassador on the staff on the Afro American Cultural Center, said the Center is remaining nonpartisan in the race.
“The AfAm House doesn’t endorse candidates,” Williams said, “but we’re willing to provide a stage for any candidate who would like to hold events here.”
The Women’s Center is also staying out of politics.
“We haven’t announced an endorsement, and we don’t plan to,” the Center’s public relations coordinator Alice Buttrick ’10 said.
But personal preferences have still been informing the actions of some organizations and their members.
Buttrick noted that her personal endorsement was reserved for Harrison. And the Women’s Center’s constituency director, Kathryn Olivarius ’11, is also Harrison’s communication director.
Students residing in Morse, Stiles, Silliman and Timothy Dwight are not eligible to vote in the race.