As a student in Silliman College, I have the opportunity to become part of the broader New Haven community as a member of Ward 22. For me, one of the greatest benefits I get as a Yale student is the opportunity to become involved in my adopted city. I have worked and will continue to work on New Haven issues, and that is why I am supporting Alderman Greg Morehead in the Democratic primary this Tuesday.
Ward 22 is an interesting composite of the Dixwell neighborhood and four of Yale’s residential colleges: Silliman, Timothy Dwight, Ezra Stiles and Morse. The link between the city and the University should be someone who has an established track record of building up a community and fighting to improve the lives of others in the neighborhood. Over the last two and a half years, Morehead has proven to be that link.
In Dixwell, Morehead understands his role as an alderman to be one of service to his community. Morehead has been a leader in Dixwell, doing everything from bringing Ludacris to talk to at-risk youth and get them involved with Street Outreach workers, to helping residents find jobs, to aiding organizers of local block parties. Morehead’s commitment to youth is particularly striking: as a father of four boys, he knows that kids need positive influences and good education. Morehead serves as a personal mentor to neighborhood youth and becomes involved in their lives.
At City Hall, Morehead has become a leader on the Board of Aldermen and serves as assistant majority leader. In a move particularly important for students, Morehead introduced and unanimously passed a resolution to encourage a BoltBus stop in New Haven. Though getting a bus stop is a long-term goal, it should be a goal that we are all interested in pursuing, since Bolt’s fares to Boston start at just $1. Further, Morehead was a co-sponsor of Complete Streets legislation to make our roads safer, an effort that has attracted the support of many city activists, including Ward 1 aldermanic candidate Michael Jones ’11.
Initially, I felt that Morehead had not kept up to speed with his student constituents as much as he could have throughout his term. While he conducts tours of Ward 22 each summer to FOCUS program students and has helped sign up students to tutor at Wexler-Grant School, many of us were unaware of Morehead and what he was doing on the Board of Aldermen. But I believe that he has made it clear with his presence now that he plans to reach out again to Yale students. He has made himself heard on campus throughout this campaign, and in the process he has established ties with current students that I trust he will maintain. After all, he is known for being a strong neighborhood leader. He understands the importance of the Yale community to Ward 22, and he is committed to keeping that relationship solid.
It should be noted that while some students may not be familiar with Morehead, the Yale administration certainly does know him. Morehead has reached out to the Yale administration, particularly with regard to securing jobs for residents at the new Yale University Health Services building. Yale’s development in Ward 22 will make a big difference in Dixwell, and Morehead knows that it is critical for the Ward 22 alderman to be the conduit between the ward and the administration. Morehead takes that role seriously, and he has already had success in fulfilling it.
Finally, I know that while broad policy discussions do not always sweep through the Board of Aldermen, in the coming months and years Mayor John DeStefano’s education reform package will come to the forefront. Education is the city issue that I am most passionate about, having worked at the Yale Law School Clinic this summer on education reform and having conducted research on education policy with the Roosevelt Institute’s education center. One piece of this education reform effort, the New Haven Promise Program, commits to giving college scholarships to New Haven residents who graduate from a city public school. This could be a huge step to reducing the barrier so many children face in attaining a college education. Morehead understands this, and he will fight to see the quality of education grow and sustain itself in the years to come.
The best thing for Ward 22 is a representative who knows the community and who has already worked hard to make it better. Greg Morehead has done that on the Board of Aldermen, and he is the best choice for us.
Sam Schoenburg is a junior in Silliman College and a volunteer for Greg Morehead’s campaign.