Ward 1 finance reports reveal uneven fundraising

Ward 1 aldermanic candidates Sarah Eidelson '12 and Vinay Nayak '14 face off Nov. 8 in what appears a tight race.
Ward 1 aldermanic candidates Sarah Eidelson '12 and Vinay Nayak '14 face off Nov. 8 in what appears a tight race. Photo by Sarah Eckinger.

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.


  • slatest

    This stuff seems boring so I bet no one will read it BUT I actually think this is some of the most interesting coverage of the race so far. Clearly, Nayak was able to get big contributions from lots of people back home, and I see how that’s a tempting route to follow if you can swing it. But it doesn’t say a lot about his investment in people here. As someone who has done some development work, I will say that asking people for money is just like asking for anything else–based on relationship

    Also, kind of a rookie mistake.

    But I’m interested to see if and how Sarah catches up on fundraising/if the amount of pizza, cookies, campaign swag available to each candidate ends up being really important.

  • joey00

    Good luck to both candidates. To Miss Eidelson,tell us more about these contributing local “community leaders” .Most have been extremely problematic in the political arena,maybe not the ones you have chosen or has chosen you as to whom THEY want to represent the 1’st ward

  • streever

    Some of Ms. Eidelson’s donors include Douglas Hausladen–far from “problematic”–he is one of the most inspirational, energetic, and hard-working citizens I have ever known.

    Which community leaders are “problematic” and have donated to Ms. Eidelson’s campaign?

  • joey00

    To “Streever” , who are you ? Are you a 1’st ward co-chair ? A city official ? A Yale employee of any kind ? Is her campaign finance disclosed with the State of Ct ? Can we all access it ? Why isn’t Aldermanic candidate and Yale student who barely steps foot off of campus speaking for herself ?
    I know the names of these problems, some have been in the news before, some have been in police blotters, people involved know who they are. She ( Eidelson) received the Democratic nomination from the City’s Town Chair, THEY bring the finance and local friends for her, THEY will ask for and receive favors from Eidelson , IF ANY deny this they are either so in the dark and outcast or are paid consultants of the city Of New Haven.. Douglas Hausladen in very knew on the scene, we have’nt discosed his biz if any or the arena he is actually from – You maybe be right that he is a good person, but many have good resumes ,or good on paper… Some consider Court mandated slop serving in a soup kitchen as enough to claim a key to the city

  • streever


    I am a very easily discernible figure–I’m a ward chair in 10, and one of the few to not only nominate an opponent of the incumbent, but even deliver an endorsement to his opponent. “Streever” is not an alias, but my name.

    Do you know the community leaders who have donated to Eidelson? As I asked, please list a few names, if there are indeed “problematic” people in that list. The names I have seen include people like Hausladen, who is far from “problematic”.

    Instead of making vague and ambiguous scare-mongering comments, can you name even one community leader who has donated to Ms. Eidelson who is problematic?

    Thank you

  • joey00

    I asked you if the names are public of her contributors, if you don’t know then just say you don’t know.To retort with psycho babble. Sometimes the most simplest of questions baffles these “elected”officials. Are they that bad that you can’t post the list ? Is it that bad ? Just who is afraid ? No word from any 1’st ward co-chair / alder ,or candidate . ARE they that much the puppet that everyone accuses them of ? Brutal rubber stamping mute creations of Toulon the puppeteer

  • joey00

    You must have went Desteff machine but you have the same rythym in your hooked fish out of water dance and rehearsed flip flop.. From a guy so voiciferous in his on-line commentary about the police union badge wearing Voigt and her thugs of the police department, from such a brutal time at the hands of the mayors’ppointees on the Zoning Board ….To a on-line spinster for them, do you think this lady with all of the finance is going to be swayed by you come time for any vote on the Board ?
    Would they feel you are usurping the authority of Alder Elixer or Eliker ? Just who does Justin support in this race ? Have you are any of the sworn co-Chair majority talked to her opponent yet ?

  • joey00

    Sorry about the typos. My Lasagna needed tending to ..
    “You must have went Desteffano Machine because you have the same rythym in your hooked fish out of water dance and rehearsed flip flop”

  • streever

    Joey :(.

  • streever

    Joey, the point is that you’ve said her donors are bad people.

    You don’t know a single individual who donated to her campaign.

    If you don’t know a single one (the document listing them is freely available), how do you know they are bad?

    I asked you–first–who were the bad people on the list. You responded with gibberish.

    Please answer my first question, and we can continue the discussion. There is no discussion, however, if you just keep posting accusations without actually engaging in the dialogue with me.

  • Yale12

    TL;DR Rich kids’ parents help them fund pet project. One kid’s richer than the other.

  • bcrosby

    I think the take-away here is clear: more than half of the money raised for this aldermanic election was raised in Chicago, Illinois. This strikes me as pretty worrisome.

    Both candidates have claimed to be running grassroots campaigns. To be fair, it’s hard to know exactly to what extent decisions about fundraising are indicative of the approach of an entire campaign. But I think it’s pretty incontrovertible that in this area, the Eidelson campaign has been far, far more authentically student-based and student-driven.

  • joey00

    Learn how to read Streever.How old are you ? Are you sure your the same person who begged enough signatures from ward 10 voters to obtain a Co-Chair whose ob (job?) it is ,is to get people registered to vote. I said “Some people” who have contributed in the past have been problematic, very. Are these the same ones that folks have read about ? Like relatives of the Town Chair in East Rock ? Or Mortgage fraud folks in Westville ? This is not innuendo or surmise but fact.
    It’s a safe bet that since she received the votes from the corrupt and useless Democratic Town Chair then we will have the same financiers who demand contracts,favors,caucus prizes,city Hall entitlements from inside foreclosure issues tofacade grant hustles

  • streever

    My point remains: You can easily pull the entire list of community leaders–it is available to you at no charge–and review for yourself.

    Or, you can make vague accusations and implications on the internet, while hiding under a fake name, and some very direct and aggressive attacks against people who are treating you with a sincerity and respect that you have done nothing to earn. It is your call.

    Either satisfy your curiosity, or satisfy your bad mood by lashing out at strangers: You decide :).

    Have a great day either way, sir.