Ward 1 candidates talk policy over apple pie

Aldermanic candidates Vinay Nayak ’14 and Sarah Eidelson ’12 discussed engagement within the New Haven community Tuesday night.
Aldermanic candidates Vinay Nayak ’14 and Sarah Eidelson ’12 discussed engagement within the New Haven community Tuesday night. Photo by Sarah Eckinger.

Yale’s two Ward 1 aldermanic candidates discussed their hope for the future of Yale-New Haven relations while engaging in the best tradition of American politics: eating homemade apple pie.

On Tuesday night, Branford College Master Elizabeth H. Bradley and her husband, Associate Master John Bradley, hosted a study break that featured candidates Vinay Nayak ’14, Sarah Eidelson ’12 and baked apple pie courtesy of Branfordian Dan Tahara ’14. Around 20 students showed up to the master’s house to sample the pie and learn about the candidates. At the event — which was the first event at which the two candidates have appeared together ­— both candidates discussed how, if elected alderman, they would encourage Yale students to be more involved in New Haven amidst a friendly question-and-answer session.

Although both Nayak and Eidelson discussed increased Yale engagement within the New Haven community, they emphasized different policies and projects they want to take on.

Eidelson began by noting the divide between the Yale campus and the city. She remarked that students come to Yale despite New Haven, causing the majority of students to be confined within the boundaries of campus, rarely exploring all that the city has to offer.

Eidelson said that she wants to rid the city of the “I don’t really know too much about New Haven, I just stay here at Yale” mentality. She suggested that her plans to revitalize the downtown area would make the city more appealing to Yalies, giving students more opportunities to get involved with their local community.

In turn, Nayak centered his comments on small, specific policy initiatives that he hoped to enact as an alderman. He mentioned a prisoner re-entry initiative that would help ex-convicts reintegrate, a bicycle project that would involve getting “bikes respected as a vehicle in New Haven” and further funding for the New Haven Promise, an education program that helps guarantee affordable college for New Haven high school students.

Still, Nayak acknowledged the limitations of the position he and Eidelson are seeking when Jacob Sandry ’15 asked what powers the Ward 1 alderman possessed to legitimately effect change in New Haven.

“Anyone in this position needs to have an understanding of what we can and cannot do,” Nayak said.

Despite the differences between Eidelson and Nayak, Justin Schuster ’15, another attendee, said that the candidates were “shockingly similar.” Indeed, the candidates agreed that while they differed on specific initiatives, they were in support of for the city and shared similar visions about the future of New Haven, as well as the hope that Yale students would become more immersed in New Haven culture.

Also in attendance were current Ward 7 Alderwomen Frances “Bitsie” Clark and former Ward 1 Alderman Ben Healey ’04, FES ’12 SOM ’12, who both shared words of advice for the candidates and prospective voters. While Clark emphasized the importance of student involvement in local politics, Healey warned the candidates of the hard work and dedication that roles in government demanded, emphasizing that the Ward 1 Alderman plays a “bridge-role” between Yale and New Haven.

“One of the things about this job is that there are not a lot of rewards,” Healey said. “The ideal candidate is the one who has the humility to admit how much they still have to learn.”

Nayak and Eidelson will face off in the general election Nov. 8.

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