LIVE BLOG: The second Ward 1 debate

As the April 17 Ward 1 Democratic Endorsement Vote draws near, all three Ward 1 aldermanic candidates — Mike Jones ’11, Katie Harrison ’11 and Minh Tran ’09 — will speak together publicly for the second time tonight in a debate sponsored by the Yale Political Union, the Yale Daily News, Dwight Hall, the Yale College Democrats and the Yale College Council. The debate will be moderated by Paul Bass ’82, the editor of the New Haven Independent.

Zeke Miller, a politics reporter for the News, will be live blogging from SSS 114 as the debate kicks off at 7 p.m.

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7:02 p.m. | SSS 114 is empty with maybe 50 students in the room that easily seats hundreds – of them, the majority appear to be campaign staff.

7:06 p.m. | We are still waiting for the debate to begin. The candidates are just taking the stage. Moderator Paul Bass ‘82, the editor of the New Haven Independent, is going over the questions one last time before he begins.

7:10 p.m. | Members of the Yale Political Union are passing out note cards on which audience members can write questions. Other questions have been prepared in advance.

7:15 p.m. | We are just getting started. David Manners-Weber ’10, the president of the Yale Political Union, is at the lectern introducing the candidates.

7:20 p.m. | Minh Tran ’09 gets the first opportunity to speak by random drawing. He tells a story from his sophomore year of organizing a trip for 3rd graders to learn about illegal immigration. “I know more about these communities – the Yale New Haven communities because I have worked in them longer,” he says.

7:20 p.m. | Katie Harrison ’11 says her opponents’ platforms “lack substance on the issue” of development. She says development is a central theme to her campaign. Unlike Tran, she ends right on time.

7:22 p.m. | We are up to about 70 students now.

7:24 p.m. | Mike Jones ’11 says he called the Ward 1 Aldermanic seat the “student seat” because of the “long line of student leaders who held it in the past.” He defends the legislative aide program from criticism saying it would take a load off the backs of the other aldermen. “I proposed the legislative aide program is important because [as legislative aides] Yale students can free other Aldermen from spending time on minutia so they can focus on issues such as education reform,” he says.

7:27 p.m. | The first question is about Mayor John DeStefano’s budget. All candidates admit say it is not perfect.

7:30 p.m. | Candidates discuss downtown development. Tran asks about turning New Haven into a “pedestrian city” and suggests the return of streetcars.

7:33 p.m. | Jones said he regrets writing a blog post attacking the Elm City ID card in high school and the he now “unequivocally supports the Elm City ID card.”

7:34 p.m. | “I’m definitely up on the Elm City ID card,” says Harrison. Tran says it is “one of the issues we all agree on.”

7:36 p.m. | Tran says New Haven will “fall behind other municipalities if we do not continue Community Policing.” He criticized New Haven Police Department Chief James Lewis because “our new chief has not made [community policing] a priority.”

7:38 p.m. | Harrison says she is concerned by NHPD’s recent purchase of more police dogs saying they are often used to provoke fear.

7:40 p.m. | Jones appears to have toned down his previously strong support of community policing.

7:42 p.m. | Bass accidentally says, speaking to the candidates, “whichever one of you is elected.” It is still possible that another candidate will come forward to run as an independent in November.

7:46 p.m. | Bass asks each to talk about constituent services. Tran said he hopes to increase street safety and connect students to others in the New Haven community. Harrison said that the Safe Streets program is already in motion and that she would focus on ensuring that overall the city is healthy – dealing with crime, development issues and town-gown relations. Jones returns to the legislative aide program and says he too cares about Safe Streets.

7:50 p.m. | David Broockman ‘11 asks each candidate to mention an instance where Yale and New Haven are in conflict. Harrison said she thinks the interests of each really are the same, though occasionally they suffer in implementation. Jones says he thinks redistricting is one such issue because if the two new residential colleges are built they will affect the demographics of Ward 22. Tran says there is a tension between the expansion of Yale and the creation of new jobs and the loss of taxable revenue.

7:53 p.m. | Ward 22 Alderman Greg Morehead asks: “How would you go about building relationships with other members of the board of alderman and whether they will seek to solve issues independently?”

7:58 p.m. | Tran compliments Jones on his charm and smile.

8:00 p.m. | Harrison says she admires Mayor DeStefano’s engagement with the issue of development. Jones says the school reconstruction program is one of the administration’s greatest achievements, but he says there is little accountability in the preparation of the budget. Tran say he admires the mayor’s devotion to the city, but that he hoped to see a sense of urgency with regard to education.

8:03 p.m. | Minh Tran hails Board of Alderman President Carl Goldfield, the third time he mentioned Goldfield tonight.

8:05 p.m. | “I feel blessed by the quality and quantity of food served in our dining halls,” says Tran, saying he will be a visible presence on campus despite no longer being a Yale student.

8:15 p.m. | A question from the audience: what position do you have that is unpopular among your constituency? Jones talks about supportive housing units, Tran discusses charter programs and Katie says she does not believe more Yale students should have positions in City Hall with titles.