Another Yale dining hall worker will be on the ballot this fall.
Tyisha Walker, a cook’s helper at the pizza station in Commons and steward at Yale’s Local 35 union, announced her candidacy for Ward 23 Alderman Thursday. If she wins, she will unseat Yusuf Shah, who as chair of the Board of Aldermen’s finance committee played an important role in guiding the city budget to its passage Monday night.
But Walker’s bid is not about Shah or the budget he helped pass, she said. She is motivated by changes she has seen in her West River neighborhood since her days there as a child.
“Since I came back [to West River], I notice people don’t have relationships like they once did,” Walker said. “There used to be a real sense of community here.”
Most of the change, Walker said, is due to heightened crime, which has “taken a toll” on the neighborhood. As alderwoman, she said, she would work to reduce crime by increasing the availability of jobs for residents.
Walker, the latest in a series of recently declared candidates with ties to unions, criticized Mayor John DeStefano Jr.’s decision to lay off 82 city employees in February, most of whom were near the bottom of the city’s pay ladder.
“Laying off people who are already struggling — that’s unsustainable” Walker said, using a word DeStefano has often used in the past year to describe city employee health benefits and pension plans.
Still, she insisted, her candidacy is not motivated by the current labor tensions at City Hall, but instead by conversations she has had with West River neighbors. One day, she said, the desire to represent her community on the Board of Aldermen “just sort of burned in me.”
Shah has not officially announced whether he will seek reelection, indicating that he may choose to cede the race to Walker if she clearly has the support of voters in Ward 23, the New Haven Independent reported. Either way, Walker said, she intends to go “all the way.”
Walker will be on the ballot in a Democratic primary Sept. 13.
Frank Douglass, a second cook in the Trumbull dining hall, is running for Ward 2 Alderman.