In one of New Haven’s most contested races this election cycle, Democrat Justin Elicker FES ’10 SOM ’10 beat incumbent Green Party candidate Allan Brison for the East Rock aldermanic seat with a vote of 652 to 339.
Throughout their campaigns, Ward 10 candidates Elicker and Brison focused on walking door-to-door to talk to constituents, and on Tuesday they stood by the polling place at Wilbur Cross High School in a last-ditch effort to woo voters. By the end of the night, 1,005 Ward 10 residents had voted in Tuesday’s election, compared with approximately 700 voters in 2007. Outside the ward, city voter turnout was low; on average, about 350 residents voted Tuesday in each ward, according to city records..
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By beating Brison, Elicker unseats the sole third-party member of the Board of Aldermen. The only two non-Democratic winners of Tuesday’s elections were Ward 18 Alderwoman Arlene DePino, the Republican incumbent, and Maureen O’Sullivan-Best, an independent candidate for Ward 11 who was supported by City Hall officials.
“It’s great to have these contested elections, and to have relatively close elections, because it drives turnout,” Elicker said. “People are talking about the issues in the neighborhood.”
Brison said that for Ward 10, this campaign season as a whole has been more intense than previous years because it involved more fundraising, manpower and big-name endorsements. Brison attributed much of Elicker’s success to Elicker’s “vigorous” campaign, though Brison also admitted he had failed to generate the amount of support he had last election. In the 2007 election, Brison defeated Democratic incumbent Edward Mattison LAW ’68, 393 to 304.
Elicker, a co-leader of the neighborhood group Friends of East Rock Park, said that although he found it difficult to get graduate students living in Ward 10 to vote, he received some support from Yalies at the polls.
Despite the competitive campaigns, there was a positive atmosphere Tuesday in front of Wilbur Cross, the polling station for Ward 10. Former Ward 10 alderman Dick Lyons volunteered for Elicker by greeting voters arriving at the polls. He said the race has remained very grassroots-oriented, as it was when he ran for office in the late 1980s. Both Brison and Elicker cast their votes early in the morning and then, accompanied by volunteers, spent the rest of the day chatting with voters, many of whom they knew by name.
On the whole, supporters of both candidates expressed satisfaction with what the two have done for the community.
After casting his vote Tuesday, Ray Smith ’66 GRD ’68 said he has been happy with Brison’s work, especially in trying to keep property taxes low.
“I’m all for our current alderman because I think he’s done a good job and provides an independent voice,” he said.
Meanwhile, Elicker supporter Sabrina Bruno came to vote along with her 22-year-old son, Christopher. She said she thinks Elicker will help to make New Haven a vibrant community for youth like her son.
“I think he breathes a wonderful breath of voice and fresh air to this community,” she said.
Elicker said one of his first projects in office will be to work with the police department to reduce crime and implement traffic-calming programs. He added that he has already decided to seek re-election.
Elicker said balancing schoolwork at Yale and aldermanic duties will be a challenge, but that his job as alderman will take priority.
“I plan on being a horrible student. And I’m actually serious,” he said. “I came back to school to run for office. I plan on using what I’m learning in school to be a more effective politician.”
Brison said he plans to help Elicker to adjust to his new job. He added that he intends to continue to volunteer as a community activist, particularly by working with prisoners.
Originally from New Canaan, Conn., Elicker has been living in New Haven for the past two and a half years while studying at Yale. During the election, Elicker received endorsements from government officials such as U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and state Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney.