NAYAK: Why I’m running for Ward 1 alderman

New Haven is a great city, and this November we have an opportunity to take big steps to make it better. I envision a New Haven where no one is left behind, where providing equal opportunities will create a stronger community and where Yale students work within broad-based coalitions to realize the vision we share for our city. I am running to be your alderman for the next two years because I believe that New Haven residents and Yale students can work together to create a better, safer, and more vibrant New Haven.

When I arrived in New Haven last fall, I was eager to get involved with the community. Through the New Haven Policy Assistant program, I worked with the Board of Aldermen to cut the bureaucratic red tape that currently impedes entrepreneurial start-ups in the city and prevents job creation. I saw firsthand the problems New Havenites faced and I helped aldermen respond to these problems through legislation. Working with the Board of Aldermen gave me an understanding of how city government can best work for its constituents. Moreover, it showed me how students, residents and community groups can work together to improve our city.

Since announcing my candidacy for alderman last spring, I have been in conversation with campus leaders and community activists, discussing how I can work with the Board of Aldermen to solve problems. Over the course of the past few weeks, I have been talking to students to understand their concerns about New Haven and what constructive changes they would like to see. It is clear to me that Yalies expect an alderman who will deliver results.

In talking with students about how we can best deliver on our vision for a greater city, I’ve proposed three priorities that need our work. First, New Haven should be a safe haven. Violent crime is all too common. One of the most effective ways to combat violent crime is to find solutions to prevent prison recidivism. In 2009, 54 percent of New Haven residents placed on probation were rearrested within two years. Creating a Transitional Employment Program that cycles the formerly incarcerated through already existing public sector jobs will provide them with the job experience needed to successfully reintegrate. Furthermore, we can incentivize fair-hiring for the formerly incarcerated by allocating greater resources to the New Haven Prisoner Reentry Initiative and restructuring New Haven’s licensing protocols and grant distribution.

As a second step, we should take on the inefficiencies that hamper our community’s economy. Like the rest of the country, New Haven was hit hard by the recession. It is critical that New Haven citizens know that their government is working to attract employers and promote growth. The Board of Aldermen needs to be sensitive to the needs of businesses and their employees and enact policies that will facilitate start-ups in New Haven.

Taking policy to the streets, the Board of Aldermen can begin to restructure downtown transit in order to make New Haven more pedestrian and bike friendly. For example, extending bike lanes, coordinating traffic signal timing and creating raised crosswalks would create an urban environment far better for both Yale student pedestrians and New Haven drivers.

Finally, our city government must be more accountable in order to give residents the opportunity to make their voices heard and enact real change. I will work to increase the transparency of city government by making live streams of public meetings and audio of committee meetings available on New Haven’s city website. Furthermore, I’ll work towards a more efficient Civilian Review Board, so that law enforcement officials will always be held accountable.

Together, students, community groups and elected representatives can deliver results for the people of New Haven. We can take on the issues of crime, economic development and government accountability. We can create a better New Haven where no one is left behind. But we can only do that together. That’s why I am running to be your representative on the Board of Alderman and why I am asking for your support. I look forward to a spirited campaign and to continuing our dialogue about your vision for a greater New Haven.

Vinay Nayak is a sophomore in Davenport College and a candidate for Ward 1 alderman.


  • DebbieDowner

    Not sure that being a policy assistant to an alderperson who was just voted out of office qualifies as getting “involved with the community”, especially not in any meaningful way. And the truth of this sentence: “I saw firsthand the problems New Havenites faced” is dubious at most and offensive at least.

    • roflairplane

      Debbie’s working for the other one.

  • desch

    After talking to Vinay about his platform and the projects that he wants to see in New Haven, I can tell you that his proposed solutions are real possibilities. Good work, Vinay!

  • bcrosby

    I’m left wondering what exactly Vinay means when he talks about “taking on the inefficiencies that hamper our community’s economy.” I’m all for fostering economic development in New Haven – but I want to make sure that the benefits of this development are distributed equitably in the city. I know that the rhetoric of reducing inefficiencies and cutting red tape is often used to justify limiting neighborhood input in shaping changes to the local built environment, circumventing progressive wage and workplace standards legislation, and the like. I know I’d appreciate some clarity on this point.

    • River_Tam

      bcrosby’s comments on the YDN are limited to one criticizing Vinay and one congratulating Sarah on her decision to run.

      I love the sockpuppetry at work here.

      • alsoalsoanon
      • ChrisPag

        Isn’t sockpuppetry when you use a fake account to promote yourself? Wouldn’t Ben posting with his real name in discussions on the aldermanic campaign to state that he supports Sarah be the opposite of that?

        Anyway, I agree that I’d love to hear more from Vinay on the inefficiencies front if he’s pulling from real experience–I don’t assume the ideas are harmful for the poorest residents, since New Haven has a number of regulations of varying rationality and efficacy, but hopefully more of this will come out in debates.

      • rm13

        Not everyone can be a world-class YDN comment board troll. You’ve set the bar rather high, River.

        • River_Tam

          rm13, you seem a little obsessed with me. If you devoted more time to critical reasoning and less time fretting over my opinion, it might get you further.

          • Yale12

            You seem a little obsessed with the comment boards of a university from which you’ve already graduated. Perhaps if you devoted more time to fostering actual relationships with real people, you’d be less lonely and inclined to take it out on student writers you disagree with.

  • zaknewman

    @Ben/Chris – What Vinay is referring to is that its actually really difficult to be licensed to do business in the city. There are multiple city offices that you have to work with and its unclear how exactly the process works, even to aldermen and city staff. That’s a huge disincentive for business owners, especially small business owners, to do business in the city and bring in more jobs. Vinay also has talked a lot about ensuring that New Haven sets a high bar for wage and workplace safety standards and about putting the formerly incarcerated back in gainful employment so we make sure that business works for everyone. You can read up on what he’s proposed on all these issues at

    (NB – I am Vinay’s campaign manager.)

    • bcrosby


    • River_Tam

      ++ to Mr. Newman for disclosing his affiliation in his comments.