Aldermanic candidates highlight differences

With a week left before polls open, both candidates for Ward 1 alderman are emphasizing their differences.

Although they are running on platforms that have been criticized as similar, both Vinay Nayak ’14 and Sarah Eidelson ’12 have recently highlighted differences in what they would do with two years as the Ward 1 representative. But some of the largest differences between the two are not in policy matters but instead are in how they have chosen to run their campaigns.

Nayak, who spent his freshman year working as a policy assistant forthe Board of Aldermen’s community development committee, said his campaign is more policy-focused than Eidelson’s, adding that he has spent “probably double the time” studying policy through conversations with city leaders as he has campaigning.

“My thing is policy,” Nayak said. “I want to see actual changes in two years.”

One of Nayak’s major policy proposals is to strengthen the city’s “Ban the Box” ordinance — a law that expunges a question of prior criminal convictions from employment forms — which the Board passedin 2009. While Eidelson has accused Nayak of trying to pass legislation that has already been instituted at the federal level, Nayak said hisversion of Ban the Boxwould expandthe measure to include privatesector employers through stronger incentives that the Board could control.

By contrast with his plans, he said,Eidelson’s policies are vague.

Eidelson, though, said she has specific policy goals, including pushing for stronger community policing and utilizing Route 34 development to stimulate local job creation and provide students with a better downtown.

One of the issues that showcases the different approaches taken by each candidate towards Yale’s relationship with its host city involves the controversy over High and Wall Streets, which were closedto vehicular traffic in 1990 following a deal reached bythe University and the city. Under the 20-year agreement, the renewal of which depended on a traffic review, Yale made a one-time payment to the city and agreed to make annual voluntary donations in exchange for access rights to the streets. Union leaders and some aldermen have argued that the terms of the agreement made it a lease, not a sale, and thatYale should pay the city for the continued use of the streets, a claim flatly rejected by University officials.

Zak Newman ’13, Nayak’s campaign manager, said Nayakstands bythe University on this issue, whilesome of Eidelson’s supporters, including two of the three future aldermen who have endorsed her, are in favor of Yale paying more for continued closure of the two streets. Eidelson, however, said she does not see her supporters’ views affectingher position as a potential alderwoman.

“The street should remain closed,” Eidelson said. “It was suggested that I would see this as an opportunity to get more money from Yale, and that’s not true at all.”

She added that her views have been mischaracterized and that all she supports is the Board’s decision to hire an independent legal counsel to investigate the 1990 contract.

Another difference between the candidates has been their approaches to fundraising. The majority of Nayak’scontributions came from his home state of Illinois and tended to be larger than those to Eidelson’s campaign. He said that although he has out-fundraised Eidelson by more than double, this has had little bearing on his campaign as Eidelson has thus far spent more during the course of the campaign.

Campaign finance reports show that Eidelson spent $1,785.19 between Aug. 18 and Sept. 30, whereas Nayak spent $1,108.90 between Aug. 10 and Oct. 10.

Newman said that although Nayak received the majority of his funds from out-of-state, his campaign actually received three donations from students living in Ward 1 that were reported as out-of-state on the finance reports because of the donors’ hometowns.

Newman and Nayak said a more accurate pictureof each campaign can be derivedfrom the composition of workers for each candidate. Nayak’s campaign, Newman said, is staffed entirely by current undergraduates, most of whom have never been involved in politics before, which Newman said stands in contrast to Eidelson’s campaign.

“I would not question [Sarah’s] campaign as being New Haven-based, but I don’t think it’s student-based,” Newman said. “You look at the kind of people running her campaign, you look at the kind of references to what she’d do if she were on the board, and I don’t think it’s necessarily focused on students.”

Eidelson, though, dismissed Newman’s characterization, and said that her campaign has been run by more than 50 student workers, long-term city residents, New Haven high school students, community leaders and future aldermen. The mixof students and nonstudents shows the relative strength of her candidacy.

“It’s really indicative of the type of alderperson that I’m going to be that I’ve been able to connect with New Haven residents already,” Eidelson said.

Ward 1 is comprised of Old Campus and all residential colleges other than Ezra Stiles, Morse, Silliman and Timothy Dwight.

The election will take place on Nov. 8.


  • Ward1Voter

    So basically Vinay’s campaign is trying to throw something at Sarah’s campaign, hoping to change the momentum of the race.
    Nothing is sticking…

  • desch

    Actually, @Ward1Voter, I dont really see this as a change? Vinay has always been very clear that his policy platform is very detailed and well thought out. Which is true… Since the Ward 1 alderman has a chance to bring in a fresh voice and a creative approach to the Board, it’s worth noting the time and effort as well as the new approaches that he proposes in his policy suggestions.

  • eli2015

    This article frustrates me a lot. The first couple of paragraphs read as an advertisement for Nayak, and the Eidelson campaign’s response to the numerous attacks from Nayak and his campaign manager, Newman, receives little space. Simply put, this article isn’t news; it’s a fairly biased recap of the same arguments that any reader of the YDN has seen issue after issue.

  • EastRockIndependent

    Eidelson’s been very clear and detailed in her policy. There’s plenty of clear, well-thought out positions and proposals in her literature, and online.

    It is frustrating to see the Daily parrot Nayak’s attacks on Eidelson as though they are true. The article says both campaigns are highlighting their differences, but what are the differences that Eidelson is highlighting? These are not detailed, instead the article is a set up – Nayak/his handler Newman saying what they believe the differences are, and then Eidelson responding to those charges.

    Poor journalism, all around.

  • yalepolitico

    The YDN has noted when it is the candidate speaking and when it is the reporter’s reporting, and I think that’s been clear. Saying that the YDN is passing on Nayak’s criticism as fact is incorrect.

    Also, Eidelson has not been detailed on what policies she would pursue, she has only talked about some of the broad issues/concerns in New Haven and she wants to re-constitute the city with sweeping change (charter reform) in order to fix them. She’s a great activist, but I don’t see her making policy within the context of the Board of Aldermen.

  • eli2015

    @yalepolitico – it’s not that the YDN is passing on Nayak’s criticisms as fact. It’s that they’re devoting ostensible “news” space to “reporting on” the Nayak campaign’s talking points.

  • brajerlok

    @eli2015: I think the same thing can probably be said of the articles written about Sarah’s endorsements and about the finances. If you’re calling this article “reporting on talking points” I think you should probably extend your criticism to those as well. I’m not levying criticism myself, merely pointing out that it seems hypocritical to only make this point for a single side of the debate.

    I don’t think that anything on here is out of line (granted, I’m helping out Vinay, so I’m doubtlessly a bit biased). But as far as I’m concerned, the stuff about finance, for instance, (i.e. the disparity in spending and the thing about hometowns obfuscating the identity of Ward 1 student donors) should probably have come out in the previous coverage of the campaigns’ finances, but didn’t. That information is entirely relevant to any discussion of inferences made from the candidates’ donations.

    As has been said, the article clearly delineated where campaign people were speaking and what was being reported, and I think it goes without saying that anything coming from one campaign is going to be slanted in that campaigns favor. But I don’t think anything here shouldn’t have been said- on the contrary, as none of this was said earlier in the race, it’s all the more important now.

  • eli2015

    @brajerlok: Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a supporter of either side. My real problem here is that the article isn’t really reporting on news, which is why it sounds so much like an opinion piece. Perhaps if this article *were* referring to a newsworthy event, the event in question would be “both candidates emphasizing their differences,” as the first line states. But even if that is the case, the article reads as a series of arguments from the Nayak campaign, each of which the Eidelson campaign refutes in turn. If the YDN is going to publish such an article, at least call it what it is: “Nayak Continues to Campaign.”

    As a side note, the articles about the endorsements and the finance were actually about newsworthy developments in the campaign.

  • yayasisterhood

    Glad to hear EastRockIndependent[s] like Sarah. Yalies like Vinay.

  • joey00

    I was wondering if reporter Nick Defiesta is using a pen name or is that his real name ?
    Fiesta means party in spanish of course, so it’s Nick TheParty YDN

  • bcrosby

    I’m with eli2015 – this is a kind of frustrating article, especially given fairly strong YDN coverage of the race thus far. The uncritical repetition of Zak Newman’s (pretty unsavory/baseless) insinuations about Sarah’s campaign staff is probably the most egregious example – there really doesn’t seem to be a story here beyond “Vinay’s campaign attempts to attack Sarah.”

    And desch, I’m not really seeing bold new approaches in Vinay’s platform – it’s not that his policy platform is necessarily ‘bad’ or ‘wrong,’ but it doesn’t strike me as especially innovative. Nor does it take into account quite possible the most legislative task of the Board of Aldermen in the next two years, namely the revision of the city charter. It’s Sarah whose policy platform addresses systematic issues in New Haven governance and explores the ways in which the unique task of this term’s aldermen may enable them to resolve them. And it’s Sarah who has demonstrated the leadership and experience with the Board to actually make some of these changes happen.

  • 81

    @joey00 It’s his real name

  • River_Tam

    JoeyOO – Defiesta would mean “of the party”, not “the party”.

  • IsaacBloch

    Aside from questions of the article’s bias, from what I understand of the two candidates it misses the real difference between them. Sarah’s proposals come from her experience in New Haven, working with students about economic justice issues, as well as talking with residents and community leaders. From what I understand of Vinay has said, he’s just copied his policies from other cities around the country. They have no direct connection to New Haven, no direct input from students or residents.

    On a personal note, I’m voting for Sarah because she’s committed to students and seems extremely invested in this city. She’s already shown that through her past dedication and her commitment to live here after graduation regardless if she wins.