Ward 1 candidates differ little in ideology

Sarah Eidelson ’12 and Vinay Nayak ’14 are candidates for Ward 1 alderman, an area that includes Old Campus and eight of the colleges.
Sarah Eidelson ’12 and Vinay Nayak ’14 are candidates for Ward 1 alderman, an area that includes Old Campus and eight of the colleges. Photo by Sarah Eidelson for Ward 1 .

While candidates Vinay Nayak ’14 and Sarah Eidelson ’12 are running against each other for the Ward 1 alderman seat, the race has revealed that the two differ little in their ideology — especially on union issues.

Vinay Nayak for Ward 1 Alderman

Last Tuesday, a slate of labor union-backed candidates ousted several incumbents in primaries across the city and raised the specter of a more assertive Board of Aldermen next year. Union-endorsed candidates won 14 of the 15 primaries in which they competed, and both Eidelson and Nayak said the influx of new blood into city politics will invigorate the city’s civic life.

“I’m thrilled to see so much active democracy and engagement happening in our city — I think that’s a major part of what we need to move forward,” Eidelson said.

In the past year, unions representing Yale and city employees have actively worked to recruit candidates and funnel money into aldermanic campaigns with the goal of strengthening the board’s resistance to DeStefano. The mayor’s fiscal policy — which has included layoffs of city workers and a call for concessions on their benefits and pensions — sparked discontent that unions have capitalized on in their campaign efforts. Union-endorsed candidates won 14 of the 15 primaries in which they competed.

While both candidates expressed general support for the goals of labor unions in improving the lives of working New Haveners, they made clear their intention not to be pigeonholed into any one coalition on the board. And Nayak added that some of the City Hall-union tension has been counterproductive.

“The divide between pro-City Hall and anti-City Hall is not productive,” Nayak said. “We’re all progressives and Democrats here.”

Still, on at least one dispute that has been inflamed by labor tensions, a potential split between Nayak and Eidelson was apparent.

In the fall of 1990, Yale entered into a 20-year agreement in which it paid the city $1.1 million and committed to increase its investment in the city in exchange for the closure of portions of High and Wall streets to general vehicular traffic. Now, under pressure from city union leaders who argue Yale is not “paying its fair share” to the city, some aldermen want to renegotiate the deal despite opposition from DeStefano and Yale administrators.

After the city’s lawyers said renegotiation was legally impossible, the Board of Aldermen decided to seek independent counsel, a move Eidelson said she supports.

But the controversy that surrounds the deal is misplaced, Nayak said. He said the streets should remain closed, adding that the agreement was subject only to an examination of the closure’s benefit to the city.

In addition to their disagreement on the High Street gate, the candidates pointed to their divergent experiences in New Haven to distinguish themselves.

This past summer, Eidelson managed the Ward 18 aldermanic campaign of union-endorsed Sarah Saiano, who lost in last week’s primary. She worked on a voter registration and outreach project two summers ago. Eidelson, who has committed to staying in the city past graduation, said her background in community organizing will help her become a coalition builder on the Board of Aldermen.

“The way to solve the problems we face as a city is not through technocratic solutions, but through substantive citizen engagement, democratic participation and partnerships with key leaders,” Eidelson said.

But while he acknowledged Eidelson’s longer history of engaging city residents, Nayak, who hails from a suburb of Chicago, said his time as a policy assistant for the B oard’s community development committee has given him a deeper understanding of the legislative process. Because of his work on the committee, he has made connections with the “movers and shakers” who will be essential to the policies he would pursue as alderman, he said.

Ward 1, home to Old Campus and eight residential colleges, is currently represented on the board by Michael Jones ’11, who is not seeking a second term. Nayak and Eidelson will square off in the Nov. 8 general election as independents.

While both candidates expressed general support for the goals of labor unions in improving the lives of working New Haveners, they made clear their intention not to be pigeonholed into any one coalition on the board.

“The divide between pro-City Hall and anti-City Hall is not productive,” Nayak said. “We’re all progressives and Democrats here.”

Comments

  • Frashizzle

    Let’s make more things sticky (wages, benefits, jobs); that’ll help New Haven balance its budget and improve the city’s economy. [Frashizzle’s sarcastic voice] Economics is the largest major at Yale. Could we please get more of our economists interested in politics!

  • observer

    I agree there is little significant difference between the candidates. Yale and New Haven will be the loser, no matter which one of these self-styled “progressives” prevails.

  • River_Tam

    > “The divide between pro-City Hall and anti-City Hall is not productive,” Nayak said. “We’re all progressives and Democrats here.”

    I thought Yale loved diversity.

  • Super11

    Run, River Tam, run!
    I’m not joking. Do you still live in New Haven? I think you could make the debate much more interesting. Don’t settle for just being an armchair critic.

    • jamesdakrn

      seconded.