Are we as proud of our city as we are of Yale? Too often, when friends who go to schools elsewhere ask us about New Haven, we scramble to find good things we can say about the city — or, worse, avoid the subject altogether. Between the crime, the lack of economic development and the less-than-impressive public schools, the Elm City’s problems stare us in the face every day.
Moments when we possess the power to change this are rare. But a week from today, Yalies will be able to do just that. On Sept. 10, New Haven will vote for its first new mayor since before many current undergrads were even born.
It’s a big moment in the history of New Haven. And what’s clear is that New Haven needs a mayor who will bring fresh ideas to a city that’s been dominated by the old pay-to-play party politics for far too long.
That’s why, come Election Day, I’m voting for Alderman Justin Elicker.
In a city where politicians avoid talking about real solutions to score cheap political points, Elicker is the only candidate willing to delve deep into the issues that matter. Under an Elicker administration, New Haven will take policies that have worked in other cities across the country, and bring them to the Elm City.
On crime — a big issue for Yale students and locals alike — Justin will be a strong advocate for a “Big Data” police department.
Using predictive technologies that can pinpoint crime “hotspots” throughout the city, the police force in an Elicker administration will be better at stopping crime before it happens by knowing in advance where it happens most. It’s a policy that’s worked for cities from Memphis to Kansas City, and it’s a policy that New Haven sorely needs.
On education, Elicker will implement early-childhood school programs for all New Haven children.
As alderman, he worked to simplify the process by which city residents apply to public schools. As mayor, he’ll work to reduce the bureaucratic red tape that today makes it so hard for parents to find the forms they need to enroll their kids. With his “No Wrong Door” policy, parents will be able to access enrollment information at any school in the city.
And on issues of development, Elicker is the strongest advocate for reducing New Haven’s dependence on cars and highways.
A centerpiece of his campaign is pedestrian-friendly “complete streets,” with bike lanes, better sidewalks and shops without the huge parking lots that plague so much of the city. Another major initiative in an Elicker administration will be to reconnect New Haven with its historic waterfront — one of the city’s greatest assets but today sadly underused.
As anyone who has been to New York City in recent years knows, these two policies can go a long way toward improving quality of life where it counts.
None of these ideas are radical, and many Yalies have seen them in action in their own hometowns.
But that’s exactly the point. For too long, New Haven has been a city with old ideas — and old fashioned politics to match. Justin Elicker is the only candidate committed to bringing to New Haven what’s worked in other cities across the country.
With that kind of forward-thinking leadership, together we can make New Haven a city worth writing home about.
Drew Morrison is a senior in Branford College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jacob Anbinder, a senior in Ezra Stiles College, contributed to the writing of this column.