Vinay Nayak ’14 to run for alderman

A Davenport freshman enters the Ward 1 Alderman race.
A Davenport freshman enters the Ward 1 Alderman race. Photo by Zak Newman.

Vinay Nayak ’14 has become the first candidate to enter the race to replace Michael Jones ’11 as Ward 1 Alderman.

A Davenport freshman from Oak Brook, Ill., Nayak said he will soon file candidacy papers to run for alderman in the election this November. In an interview Tuesday night, Nayak, a registered Democrat and the son of Indian immigrants, said his run for Ward 1 alderman, a position whose constituents are mostly Yale students, is motivated by a desire to be a “champion for New Haven families.”

“My family immigrated here from the working class in India, and I grew up just 20 minutes from the city of Chicago,” Nayak said. “Having that lens has given me a dose of perspective.”

While he said he is interested in learning what the Ward 1 electorate wants in its alderman, Nayak said he believes fundamentally that the interests of Yale and New Haven are intertwined.

“What’s good for New Haven is good for Yale,” Nayak said. “The Ward 1 Alderman ought to be able to represent both the interests of the New Haven community and those of Yale students.”

In high school, Nayak mentored Chicago schoolchildren who had dealt with classes being cancelled for a lack of chalk, or because teachers did not attend, he said. Many of the same issues face New Haven, Nayak said.

Through the Board of Aldermen’s policy assistant program, which assigns undergraduates to aldermanic committees, Nayak has worked under community development chair and Ward 24 Alderman Marcus Paca. Paca commended Nayak’s work for the committee in a press release Tuesday evening.

“Vinay’s energy and commitment to our sustained community and economic development has convinced me that he will remain a vital part of our city for many years to come,” Paca said.

Nayak said his involvement in the program has educated him about the issues facing city residents. As alderman, he said he would focus his efforts around public safety, education and community development.

“Working with the Board of Aldermen, I’ve seen firsthand how important vigorous, responsible economic development is for this city,” Nayak said in the release. “I will be a tireless advocate for fair policies that empower both permanent New Haven residents and Yale students.”

Over the next few months, Nayak said he plans to see what Yale students want in the alderman representing them. The question has been the source of debate recently, with some arguing the Ward 1 Alderman should advocate progressive citywide initiatives and others insisting that he or she focus on the specific interests of Yale students.

While he is a Democrat, Nayak will run as an Independent in the Nov. 8 election, in accordance with the Ward 1 Democratic Committee’s request. Because the Democratic primary is Sept. 13 — leaving only two weeks for candidates to mount campaigns in the fall — the committee has asked Democratic candidates to run as Independents in the general election.

Nayak and his supporters will hold a meet and greet event Thursday at 7 p.m. at Blue State Coffee on Wall Street.


  • dportyalestudent

    He’s a really kind, genuine guy – he’d be an incredible asset to this city!

  • yaleyale6

    I’ve known seen Vinay around since I’ve got to Yale and I’ve gotta say, I think he’d be an amazing candidate for Alder. Working in NHA’s policy program should not be underestimated when all this stuff gets rolling. Excited we’ll have at least one qualified and progressive candidate for the job! Now let’s see who else comes out of the woodwork!

  • glibmonster

    How cute. The widdle freshman who’s been here for 8 months thinks he can take on the big, bad city.

  • JEyalestudent

    @glibmonster, thats because Vinay is a big, bad candidate.
    Anyone who speaks to Vinay for about 25 seconds will see how perfect he is to represent both Yale students and New Haven families in the political arena.
    Also, anyone who realizes that Yale has a commitment to supporting the people of its home-city has my vote.

  • grumpyalum

    I’m sorry, someone in the city for 8 months has no business running. None.

  • yalieeleven

    hooray for the policy assistant program!

  • 201Y1

    Sorry, Zelinksy.

  • ickthyus

    heard this dude is a chill bro

  • des13

    While I am also concerned that he is a freshman, it is worth giving him the benefit of the doubt and attending the event on Thursday to ask him about his experiences within New Haven and his ideas for New Haven. Good for you, Vinay, just dont get sucked into machine politics.

  • aseem720

    @service1 — before you start using the anonymity of the internet to slander and criticize an incredible individual you don’t even know, take 30 seconds to talk to Vinay. You aren’t impressing anyone by running a google search in a desperate attempt to discredit someone who has worked so hard since coming to Yale to become involved with the New Haven community and understand the issues that this city faces. Challenge Vinay — ask him the questions you want answers to, find out about his ideology, talk to him before you judge him. I guarantee you that once you build up the courage to actually engage with him, rather then sheepishly criticizing him from a far, you’ll come away realizing what an extraordinary student, advocate and individual Vinay is.

  • yalie458

    I agree that he does not have any perspective and that he views this purely as an opportunity to advance his own political career. There is nothing wrong with that of course, except for the fact that I have met this man at Yale and I was with him at the Yale-Harvard football game. He was as drunk as could be adn was shouting controversial comments at Harvard students and other women who were walking along the street. I would not trust a guy like this with absolutely no real character. If you do meet him and talk to him for 30 seconds, you will definitely be caught up in his mastery of the English language and his ability to persuade you to his point of view but if you look deeper you will see that it is all very superficial. He may make a good politician but he is not the right guy for New Haven and I certainly will not vote for him.