The candidates for Ward 1 alderman have taken different approaches to fundraising.
Campaign finance reports released last week state that candidate Vinay Nayak ’14 raised $6,596 for his campaign between Aug. 10 and Oct. 10, more than twice the $2,851 that his opponent, Sarah Eidelson ’12, raised between Aug. 18 and Sept. 30. While Eidelson has received smaller contributions from more local donors, Nayak’s larger donations have overwhelmingly come from his home state of Illinois.
Eidelson’s campaign has received 45 donations to Nayak’s 40, with an average contribution of around $60, while Nayak’s donors have given an average of $166. Over 70 percent of donations to Eidelson’s campaign are $50 or below, whereas that figure is only 10 percent for Nayak’s campaign coffers.
The origins of the contributions also differ, with more than half of Eidelson’s donations coming from New Haven residents, including students and community leaders. In contrast, the only in-state donation to Nayak’s campaign listed in his finance report is from Bridgeport, with 75 percent of his contributions flowing from Illinois.
Eidelson said this figure shows that her campaign is more focused on New Haven than Nayak’s.
“I reached out primarily to people I know in New Haven who have a personal stake in the future of this city and who donated to my campaign because they believe I’m the person who’s going to make a positive change,” she said. “It is clear that that’s not the fundraising outreach that Vinay has done.”
But Zak Newman ’13, Nayak’s campaign manager, dismissed this claim. He said Nayak did not ask for donations in New Haven because he had already raised sufficient funds through family and friends, allowing him to devote more time to “knocking on doors and working on policy” instead of fundraising. He added that it appeared Eidelson also went to friends and family first, as indicated by the cluster of donations from her home state of Pennsylvania in her finance report in late August and early September, before soliciting donations in New Haven.
Eidelson said she spent the beginning of her campaign gathering monetary support from donors in the Elm City.
“I have really reached out to basically all of the people [with whom] I’ve built relationships in New Haven over the past few years as a first step, both students and people I’ve worked with in the city through community organizations and political initiatives,” said Eidelson. “It felt important to me that my campaign be funded by as many of my constituents as possible, with small donations from New Haven residents.”
Abby Lawlor ’11, who has lived in New Haven since graduating last spring, is listed as having donated $50 to Eidelson’s campaign and said she contributed because she believes in Eidelson’s vision for the city. Having worked with Eidelson on a voter registration drive called the Community Voter Project, Lawlor said she is excited to see Eidelson bring her experience in grassroots organizing to New Haven government.
Eidelson said her campaign is more of a ground-up, grassroots campaign than Nayak’s. But Newman disagreed, and said the Vinay for Ward 1 campaign represents a diverse group of Yalies.
“As the person that is overseeing the team, I can tell you that Vinay’s campaign is really, truly a cross section across Yalies,” Newman said. “You have people who are really passionate about prison re-entry, people who are really passionate about wage theft, people who have been involved in politics, people who are just getting interested and who want to know more.”
Both campaigns said the majority of funds are used to cover publicity, including T-shirts, posters and campaign literature. Though having more money is an advantage for Nayak’s campaign, she said, she hopes students will vote based on who they think will represent them most effectively on the Board of Aldermen.
Newman said in the case of Ward 1, money is only helpful to a certain extent.
“There are only so many things you can spend money on,” Newman said, though he added that “it has allowed us to reach out to voters effectively.”
He added that Nayak’s campaign will donate any money it does not spend to a local nonprofit.
Eidelson and Nayak will face off in a debate on Monday sponsored by the Yale Political Union, Yale College Democrats and the News.