At the home of author and Yale School of Management professor Douglas Rae, several Yale faculty members and neighbors met to fundraise for Ward 10 Alderman Justin Elicker FES ’10 SOM ’10 in the final days before New Haven’s mayoral primary.
The list of professors at the event included English professor Paul Fry, history professor Charles Hill and School of Management professor Roger Ibbotson. Those present pledged their support for Elicker for a range of reasons, including his ability to manage the city’s budget and his responsiveness as East Rock’s alderman.
Elicker’s fiscal policies were of prime interest to the group that gathered in Rae’s backyard, and many took the opportunity to ask questions of the mayoral candidate.
“We’re the Detroit of 10 years ago,” Elicker said. “We see all the signs of a mismanaged budget.”
In order to fix New Haven’s budget deficit, Elicker said he would like to cap the expansion of the city’s debt balance, fix the unsustainable worker pension program and adjust the high taxes in New Haven that he alleges are “pushing people out of the city.”
Rae said Elicker’s fiscal policies are the primary reason for his support of the mayoral candidate. The professor, who was formerly New Haven’s chief administrative officer from 1990 to 1991, added that he has “grave concerns for the next five years,” given the city’s rapidly rising pension costs.
“We need great strength in that office,” Rae said.
He added that while Yale professors are not usually very attentive to local politics, SOM professors are split between Elicker and former city economic development administrator Henry Fernandez LAW ’94.
Most other Yale professors at the event were supportive of Elicker including Smith, Fry and Ibbotson. As an SOM professor himself, Ibbotson said he was excited to see an SOM graduate in the mayoral race. Fry called Elicker’s positions “sensible,” as he filled out a donation before leaving Rae’s house.
Alan Plattus, who was at the event and teaches the popular political science course “New Haven and the American City,” said he is undecided about who he will support in the mayoral election and used this event to gather information about the candidate.
Supporters also mentioned Elicker’s responsiveness to constituents as one of his most positive attributes. Rae’s next-door neighbor, Jim Barnes, said that he was sure if Elicker were elected, “We will get 125 percent out of him.”
While speaking to the crowd, Elicker said that what distinguished him from the other candidates was a commitment to a “new way” of government, which he characterized as more open and transparent than the “old way” based on donations and favors.
Elicker has raised a total of $170,000 as of Tuesday, trailing Harp and Fernandez who have raised $287,413 and $265,361, respectively. Unlike Fernandez and Harp, Elicker has elected to participate in New Haven’s Democracy Fund for campaign financing, which allows a maximum donation of $370 per individual. Though he lags behind competitors in the fundraising race, Elicker said that his participation in the Democracy Fund is an example of the new style of government that he plans to bring to City Hall.
The Democratic mayoral primary will take place on Sept. 10.