With the Democratic primary election over, city Republicans are gearing up to run a slate of candidates for the Board of Aldermen.
Two years ago, no Republicans ran for spots on the board, but this November, there are four Republican candidates hoping to break up the current board’s single-party rule. Among that number is Paul Chandler ’14, who is challenging incumbent Sarah Eidelson ’12 in Yale’s Ward 1 and is the first Republican to run for the position in 20 years.
“People are surprised at the increased influence of outside groups on the Board of Aldermen. Regardless of where you stand on the UNITE Here, Locals 34 and 35 unions, they have made themselves a very effective lobbying block,” said Richter Elser ’81, the Republican Town Committee chair. “The result is some people putting their hands up and saying, ‘I know enough about my community and my neighborhood that I’m willing to run for the Board of Aldermen,’ and that back-and-forth is what gets you a better Board of Aldermen.”
Chandler said that while Republican candidates traditionally do not run because it is “hard to get elected,” he believes that there will be increasing Republican involvement in the coming years as people get more interested in becoming involved in local government.
In addition to Chandler, Republican Frank Lobo MED ’92 is running in Ward 6 against union-backed incumbent Dolores Colon, Republican Andy Ross in Ward 8 will compete against union-backed Aaron Greenberg GRD ’18 and Republican William Wynn is facing Anna Festa in a race for the Ward 10 seat currently held by Justin Elicker FES ’10 SOM ’10, one of two candidates running for mayor.
Lobo said that having a Republican on the board would prevent discussions from being fully behind the doors of Democratic caucus meetings. He argued that, on a municipal level, many issues are not inherently Democratic or Republican but rather affect the city as a whole. One of those issues, he said, is the “fiscal urgency” the city faces due to both bond debt and their pension obligations.
“There’s a notion that there is a fiscal crisis, and what we enjoy and love about New Haven might be in danger,” Lobo said. “This year the problem is more prominent and more pronounced than it was two years ago, and it motivated all four Republican aldermanic candidates: There’s a sense that we are living on a credit card we are not able to afford and passing onto future generations of New Haveners.”
Wynn said he is running because he feels the entirety of his ward has not received sufficient attention and that one of his priorities is making sure everyone in his ward is accounted for. Like some Democrats, Wynn expressed his feeling that New Haven’s politics have been stagnant and need change.
“Everything has been status quo here in New Haven. There is definitely a time for change for the better, and I think the Republican Party has what it takes: Being conservative and making people accountable for their actions is what a Republican stands for,” Wynn said. “I think change is here now: It’s a new day. Out with the old, and in with the new.”
In addition to running four candidates for the Board of Aldermen, Republicans are also receiving more attention as New Haven moves towards the November election because of their importance as a voting block in the mayoral election. Elicker noted in a speech after Tuesday’s primary that with support from the city’s Republican, independent and unaffiliated voters, he could potentially close the gap between him and his opponent State Sen. Toni Harp ARC ’78.
The general election will be held on Nov. 6.