With election season in full swing, New Haven’s two candidates for Ward 1 are operating at full speed to win students’ votes this November.
Republican Paul Chandler ’14 will challenge incumbent and Democrat Sarah Eidelson ’12 for the aldermanic seat in Ward 1, which includes on-campus Yale undergraduates — except those living in Morse, Ezra Stiles, Silliman and Timothy Dwight Colleges and Swing Space — and which has not seen a Republican candidate run in 20 years. With under two months until the election, both candidates are stepping up campaign efforts.
Both Eidelson and Chandler have been carrying out voter registration drives. Eidelson said that in her position as Ward 1 alderman, she has been working to register freshmen and introduce them to city politics.
“When meeting with freshmen, we’ve been trying to have conversations just to help them orient themselves to the city, the fact that they live in Ward 1 and what that means,” Eidelson said. “We’ve been talking about the issues that I’ve been fighting for on the Board in the past two years and the comprehensive youth agenda that I’ve been pushing for.”
Eidelson, who was elected in 2011 after defeating Vinay Nayak ’14, serves as the chair of the Board of Aldermen’s Youth Committee. Eidelson said that during this election season, she has engaged students in conversations on community policing, charter revision and other issues facing the city.
Chandler said the city’s budget is one of his top priorities. He said that the mayoral race has encouraged people to discuss and think about how the city can be more fiscally responsible.
“Fiscal accountability is one of the biggest topics that’s coming out in mayoral debates, and we’ve been thinking about it for weeks: It’s one of the most important ways to make sure our city lasts,” Chandler said. “I know a lot about finance and about budgets, and as an economics major, I have a very quantitative mind, which is just one of the assets I have.”
Chandler added that one difference between him and Eidelson is the fact that he is still an undergraduate on Yale’s campus. While Eidelson graduated in May last year, Chandler is a senior and will spend a little under half of his term as an undergraduate at Yale if he were elected. He said that the Ward 1 position is a “student voice in city government,” and that it is “really important to keep it that way.”
In a survey conducted by the News of 418 students this past December, 72 percent of people reported not having interacted with Eidelson since the beginning of the school year. Just 20 percent of the class of 2016 identified Eidelson as their alderman, though 66, 67 and 69 percent of the classes of 2015, 2014 and 2013, respectively, correctly identified her.
Eidelson and Chandler have not yet met or spoken to each other, according to both. Ben Mallet ’16, Chandler’s campaign manager, said that both he and Chandler went to a mayoral debate on Aug. 28 at the Long Wharf Theatre and had hoped to see and meet Eidelson there, but they did not see her. Eidelson said that the Chandler campaign has not reached out to her.
Nia Holston ’14, Ward 1 co-chair and an official supporter of Eidelson, said that having a Republican in the race changes the election dynamic, because groups like the Yale College Democrats and Students Unite Now, a progressive group on campus, have united behind Eidelson. Two years ago, when Nayak — a Democrat — ran against Eidelson, groups like the Democrats did not endorse one candidate, she said.
Nicole Hobbs ’14, president of the Yale College Democrats, said the organization is looking for ways to support Eidelson’s campaign.
“I think that over the past two years, Sarah has shown that she really cares about New Haven and Yale,” Hobbs said. “The Dems have worked with her on various projects, and she’s done a really great job with the Youth Services committee, and we’re proud to endorse her and support her candidacy.”
Eidelson is holding a campaign event this Saturday at her house on High Street. Chandler also announced that he will hold open weekly lunches in Commons on Tuesdays.