Jones ’11 prepares for new role

Although four months remain until the official start of his term, Ward 1 aldermanic candidate Mike Jones ’11 is starting to step into his new shoes.

Five months after winning a contentious battle against Katie Harrison ’11 and Minh Tran ’09 for the Ward 1 Democratic endorsement vote, Jones stands unopposed, and it looks as if it will stay that way. The deadline to run in the November general election was Aug. 5; any candidate interested in running against Jones for the Ward 1 aldermanic seat would have to run as a write-in candidate, and registration for that ends Oct. 20.

But even before that date comes to pass, Jones has already begun meeting with local leaders and reaching out to his Yale constituents.

“Since April, I’ve shifted the focus of who I’m communicating with,” Jones said. “I’ve tried to look across the city and meet a wide cross section of aldermen and community members in order to have some substantive conversations.”

Jones said he has met with at least a dozen members of the Board of Aldermen in the time since the endorsement vote, and he has also had conversations with some of the candidates who ran against incumbents in last week’s Democratic primary, including Ward 22 candidate Lisa Hopkins and Ward 10 hopeful Justin Elicker FES ’10 SOM ’10.

Jones has also communicated with local figures outside of the Board of Aldermen. He said he plans to co-host a forum with State Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield this semester on Holder-Winfield’s efforts to repeal the death penalty in Connecticut. Jones also worked with Yale College Council President Jon Wu ’11 to organize a bicycle tour of New Haven last weekend.

Jones’ Web site has changed from a campaigning Web site to a blog where he has been adding posts since Sept. 8 about events and issues taking place in the city.

But Jones still has four months until he actually succeeds current Ward 1 Alderwoman Rachel Plattus ’09, and while he said he hopes to continue building relationships across the city, he does not want to bring too much attention to himself until his status as alderman is solidified.

For her part, Plattus said she is glad Jones has begun to take up the mantle of alderman and is preparing himself for the role, though she maintained that she still has several items on her agenda before she leaves office in January: Plattus said she will spend her remaining months as alderwoman contributing to the citywide efforts to reform public schools, as well as continuing last year’s efforts to ensure that New Haven’s homeless shelters stay open throughout the winter.

Jones said he readily understands that Plattus is the elected leader of the ward until her tenure officially ends, and he said he is not trying to pre-emptively replace her.

“Rachel is the current alderwoman, and I won’t be giving myself that kind of authority to speak in that capacity until the time when it is dictated appropriate,” Jones said. “But there are a lot of students currently engaged in a really productive way, and it’s not really prudent to maintain such a low profile that we lose those students, or lose that level of enthusiasm that we had.”

The New Haven general election will take place Nov. 3.

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