Mike Jones ’11 won the Ward 1 Democratic Endorsement Vote on Friday, taking 49.2 percent of the vote.
Katie Harrison ’11 finished second with 36.9 percent, followed by Minh Tran ’09 with 12.8 percent of the vote. Nearly 474 Ward 1 residents cast ballots in the election, the first Democratic endorsement vote ever to be held in Ward 1.
In a William L. Harkness Hall classroom full of campaign supporters and campus activists, Ward 1 Democratic Committee Co-Chair Rhiannon Bronstein ’11 announced the results of the race late Friday evening. Jones officially received the endorsement of the Ward 1 Democratic Committee at a meeting at 5 p.m. Sunday.
Although Bronstein congratulated Jones and thanked the three candidates for their commitment to improving the city, she held her highest praise for the endorsement vote itself.
“The enthusiasm around the process and the dialogue it generated proves that it was a success,” Bronstein said.
Jones garnered 233 votes in Friday’s election, besting Harrison — who received 176 votes — by 57 votes. Tran received 61 votes, and four voters did not choose any of the three candidates. (There were two empty ballots and two write-ins.)
Upon learning the outcome of the race, the three candidates remained seated and composed. There as polite clapping throughout the audience. Tran and Harrison congratulated Jones but then made a quick exit with the rest of their supporters. The classroom was virtually empty minutes after the announcement.
Jones’ supporters gathered in the hallway outside, hugging one another and taking a commemorative photo.
After the announcement, Jones, a political science major from Winston-Salem, N.C., said he was relieved that the campaign was over. He praised the other candidates for driving an issues-based race.
“It’s been a fun couple of months, and I’m excited to start joining forces with Minh and Katie on issues facing the city,” Jones said.
New Haven Democratic Town Committee Chair Susie Voigt, who attended the election results announcement, said this endorsement vote yielded more voters than most aldermanic elections in other wards.
Turnout for the regular elections of the 2003 and 2005 Ward 1 aldermanic elections — the two most recent elections that were contested — drew 541 and 800 voters to the polls, respectively. Given these numbers, Voigt said, drawing 474 people to a mere endorsement vote was impressive.
Currently, 1,417 Democrats are registered in Ward 1, though that figure includes students who may have moved out of New Haven after graduating.
“Frankly, I was a little skeptical when they first started talking about this idea of an endorsement vote,” Voigt said. “But I’m really, really glad it turned out this way.”
Jones acknowledged that he expected voter turnout to be slightly higher, but he maintained that he was satisfied with the dialogue and debate fostered by the endorsement vote.
Bronstein said the Ward 1 Democratic Endorsement Vote Board will convene in coming months to assess the success of the endorsement vote and brainstorm ideas on how the vote might be improved in the future, if it occurs once again. For instance, the voter registration deadline might be changed to two weeks before the vote from one, Bronstein said; a few students were turned away at the polls because they no longer lived in Ward 1 or had not registered in time, she added.
After the Ward 1 Democratic Committee endorsed Jones on Sunday, the New Haven Democratic Town Committee will almost certainly endorse the Saybrook College sophomore in July, Voigt said. But the race is not over yet: The final aldermanic election will not take place until November, and it is still possible for candidates to enter the race as Republicans or third-party candidates.
When asked about the possibility of having to conduct a second campaign in the fall, Jones said he prefers not to dwell on the thought.
“I think that if you’d asked me that question five months ago, I would have given you a different answer than I would now,” Jones said. “But I’ll think about that tomorrow.”
Although Jones may soon be worried about a challenger in November, his mother, Denise Franklin Jones, said she was worried for an entirely different reason: Jones has admitted that in the chaos of the campaign season, he may have allowed his schoolwork to fall a bit to the wayside. Franklin Jones said she hoped her son, who is a member of the Black Men’s Union and Yale College Democrats, would be able to accommodate an aldermanic position with an academic schedule.
“I understand what he’s doing — he’s getting real-world experience. It’s a balancing act, and a challenge for any student, and this position isn’t just doing community service, or doing something that looks good on a resume,” Franklin Jones said. “That’s up to him to find that balance, but I trust he will find it.”