Morrison defeats two Ward 22 challengers

In one of New Haven’s most eclectic areas, incumbent Jeanette Morrison, the alderman who represents four of Yale’s residential colleges, clinched the democratic nomination for Ward 22 in Tuesday’s primary.

The ward is home to students who live in Ezra Stiles, Morse, Silliman and Timothy Dwight colleges and also residents in the Dixwell community, a traditionally lower-income neighborhood. Morrison secured 264 votes, more than her closest challenger, Helen Powell, a retired staffer in the New Haven Registrar of Voters, who received 110 votes. Also in the race was Cordelia Thorpe, a former state Department of Corrections employee who has run unsuccessfully in every Ward 22 election since 2005 and received 84 votes.

“I really like doing the job of an alderperson and making sure that my ward and the city is taken care of,” Morrison said after her victory. “I’m so pleased that my constituents are pleased with me.”

In her previous work as alderman, Morrison sponsored initiatives such as reintroducing the Q House — previously a community and youth gathering center — and promoting the Jobs Pipeline — a program to streamline the job search process for New Haven residents. She said that two of her top priorities for her coming term will be youth and safety.

But her, “ultimate goal” she said, is to bridge the gap between the Yale students and permanent residents that live within her ward.

Those deep town-gown divisions were on display today at the Ward 22 polling location.

“If it wasn’t for Yale students, she wouldn’t have won. It’s not fair,” said Louise Pierce, a Ward 22 resident. “The only time we see her is at the election.”

Morrison’s opponent, Powell, for example, said that freshmen, who are not yet acquainted with the city, should refrain from voting, and that upperclassmen should take time to familiarize themselves with the issues before heading to the polls. Newcomers to the Elm City, Powell said, lack sufficient community knowledge to make an informed decision on whom to support for the alderman role.

Bruce Alexander ’65, another Ward 22 resident and Yale’s vice president for New Haven and state affairs, was also at the polls. While he would not say who he voted for in the aldermanic or mayoral races, he said that he supports students’ involvement in the election.

“Yale students are very capable people,” Alexander said. “The notion that they can’t get involved is fallacious. Students ought to be active and engaged.”

At least 25 Yale students were transported to the Ward 22 polling location, said ward co-chair Josef Goodman ’14. More students could have gotten their own rides or walked to the polling location at Wexler Grant School, he added.

One Yale student who made it to the polls, Edmund Downie ’14, said he voted for Morrison because he worked for her campaign last year and thinks she “did a good job and is committed to sticking to it.”

Morrison is a social worker with the Connecticut Department of Children and Families.

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