Today is city spokesman Adam Joseph’s first day on the job.
Leaving his most recent role lobbying Hartford officials for the city, Joseph comes to the job with six years of experience in Connecticut and New Haven politics. While Joseph comes to the job with less of a learning curve than did his predecessor, Jessica Mayorga, Ward 29 Alderman and President of the Board of Aldermen Carl Goldfield said Joseph’s appointment will not significantly change the way City Hall communicates with the press and the public.
“I’m really grateful to have the opportunity to work with the media in this community to ensure residents all well informed,” Joseph said.
Upon graduating from James Madison University with a degree in history, Joseph worked for New York State Senator Jeff Klein, first on Klein’s 2004 campaign and then as a community liaison. In 2005, Joseph moved to New Haven to work as a deputy finance director for Mayor John DeStefano Jr.’s unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign. After DeStefano lost the Democratic primary to Dannel Malloy, Joseph worked for former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz ’83 as a deputy communications director.
“Adam started off as a very young man and matured and shown a great deal of competence,” Goldfield said. “He seems to be a jack-of-all-trades because he’s done well in so many jobs.”
DeStefano said he was happy to be able to choose a internal replacement for Mayorga, his second-longest serving spokesperson.
While he said he is excited to serve the city in a new capacity, Jospeh added that he knows he has big shoes to fill. Mayorga, who started as the city’s director of communications in March 2007, earned the admiration of many of her colleagues at city hall and in the Board of Aldermen.
“Jessica works incredibly hard and was a great asset to the city and a good friend,” Joseph said.
But Joseph is not entirely new to Mayorga’s position.
When Mayorga was on maternity leave in June 2009, the Supreme Court ruled against the city in the famous Ricci v. DeStefano case. The ruling, which held that the city acted illegally in throwing out firefighter promotions exams not passed by a single African-American, overturned the decision of then-appellate court judge Sonia Sotomayor LAW ’79 in the run-up to her Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
Goldfield said he remembers Joseph exhausted during the weeks following the ruling.
“He was exhausted from having so much on his plate and working all day,” Goldfield said. “He’s a very hard worker.”
Joseph said he loves working for the city, but what makes his new job particularly exciting is that he will be working with local media. Through the press, Joseph said, he hopes to keep the public well-informed and “engaged with what City Hall is doing.”
Ward 7 Alderwoman Frances “Bitsie” Clark said perhaps the transition’s most important effect is that a man is now the mouthpiece of the mayor’s agenda.
“People will have to get used to it — I’ve had a lot of fun with Adam and he’s got a good sense of humor, but people tend to have different relationships with men and with women,” Clark said.
Goldfield said Joseph is above all competent, and that the city is in good hands.
The effort to replace Joseph is now underway and comes at a time when the city’s legislative agenda in Hartford is of heightened importance.
The most important item on the city’s wish list is for the state to grant municipalities like New Haven more flexibility to collect revenue outside of property taxes, which it currently cannot, said Goldfield. He said that the city, having relied on property taxes in the past, hopes to obtain permission from the state legislature to levy a tax on bars and nightclubs downtown. Joseph’s successor will be the city’s main advocate in Hartford for these changes.
Goldfield said the search for Joseph’s replacement is not close to an end yet and that he recently received an email soliciting recommendations.