Ella Wood seeks Board of Alderman spot

If Ella Wood ’15 defeats Doug Hausladen ’04 for the Ward 7 aldermanic seat, she will be the first Yale undergraduate to represent that ward.
If Ella Wood ’15 defeats Doug Hausladen ’04 for the Ward 7 aldermanic seat, she will be the first Yale undergraduate to represent that ward. Photo by Andrew Stein.

A current Yale student is challenging a former Yalie for the aldermanic seat in Ward 7.

Doug Hausladen ’04, who has represented the ward including downtown New Haven since 2011, will face off against Ella Wood ’15 in the Democratic primary this month. If she wins, she will become the first Yale undergraduate to represent that ward, which is home to city residents, Yale graduate students and a small group of undergraduates.

Yale students have previously only won spots on the board in University-dominated Ward 1.

Wood became a resident of Ward 7 and entered the race in early August, days after moving into a house on Humphrey Street. She previously lived on Dwight Street outside of the ward in which she currently resides.

“It takes a lot of concerted effort to reach out and draw people into the new direction the city has been headed in, and the current leadership in the ward is not invested in that vision of the city and therefore has not drawn in some voices,” Wood said.

Wood, who spent the summer in New Haven working with New Haven Works, a jobs pipeline program, and New Haven Rising, a community advocacy organization, said her previous work in the Elm City inspired her to run for alderman with the goal of serving underrepresented groups in Ward 7.

Hausladen said he looks forward to having a discussion with Wood about the issues facing Ward 7 and encourages voters to look at both of the candidates’ records. He added that he has been involved in community activities for years now, whereas Wood has just moved into the ward.

Hausladen has been a member of the Downtown Wooster Square Community Management Team since 2007, served as the coordinator of the New Haven Safe Streets Coalition in 2008, and has led several neighborhood working groups.

Wood, however, said she would be able to better represent Ward 7 residents despite having moved there in early August.

“There’s one kind of engagement and familiarity with the community that comes from living in it for a long time, and I don’t want to devalue that,” Wood said. “But the other kind of familiarity with the community is impossible to get without doing the footwork it takes to reach out to people from different backgrounds and whose experiences are very different from yours. … I think that’s the kind of involvement I have had in New Haven.”

Ward 10 Alderman and mayoral candidate Justin Elicker FES ’10 SOM ’10, who serves with Hausladen on the Board of Aldermen, said Hausladen does have that deep connection with his neighborhood and has had “a very positive impact on the board.”

“He’s independent-minded, votes his conscience and is not afraid to ask the hard questions, so I consider him to be the type of person who is vital to the success of the board,” Elicker said. “I think the most important thing for a representative is to understand who they’re representing and what issues are important to them.

“If [aldermen] haven’t lived in the neighborhood or haven’t been to any neighborhood meetings, that brings up the question of how effectively they can represent their constituents,” Elicker added.

Tricia Caldwell, communications manager for the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, said Hausladen has been “visible in the nonprofit realm” and is known for his work in the community.

The Democratic primary is on Sept. 10.

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