Ward 1 Alderman Sarah Eidelson ’12 kicked off her re-election campaign on Saturday with an open house gathering at her High Street apartment designed to reignite the energy that propelled her to victory in 2011.
Over coffee and fresh-baked cookies, nearly 40 supporters crowded into the candidate’s third-floor apartment to share their reasons for backing the incumbent in a Nov. 5 general election. Before her most ardent supporters praised her achievements on the Board of Aldermen and commended her vision for New Haven, Eidelson addressed the crowd, detailing the city’s principal problems and the work that faces the Ward 1 representative.
“The commitment that I made to you two years ago was that I was going to look the city’s most serious challenges in the eye and actually work with the other alders and work with you to really try to make change on them,” she said.
Eidelson made no mention of her challenger, Paul Chandler ’14, who is the first Republican to seek the Ward 1 seat in 20 years. The only Democrat in the race, Eidelson faced an uncontested primary election.
At the forefront of her work on the Board, Eidelson said, have been youth issues: streamlining existing services and working to create new, recreational spaces for young people.
As the chair of the youth committee, Eidelson has worked to articulate a “comprehensive youth agenda,” she said, a response to the sobering realization that “we were not giving young people in New Haven what they actually deserved.” As part of that effort, Eidelson has helped lead efforts to transform the long-shuttered Goffe Street Armory into a youth space and to reopen the Dixwell Community “Q” House, which long-served as a hub for youth activities.
Eidelson listed crime, government transparency and economic development as other high-priority issues.
Reflections on her 2011 campaign colored Eidelson’s pitch, as she recalled her initial motivations for running.
“It was being in rooms like this that made me decide to run to represent you all in the first place,” she said. “Like most Yale students, I did not come to Yale because I was extremely excited to live in New Haven. But I quickly fell in love with it, and I ran in 2011 because I believed that by students and other residents actually coming together, we could make positive change here.”
Chandler spokesperson Amalia Halikias ’15 said their campaign has been off to a promising start, with weekly lunches on Tuesdays in Commons designed to boost Chandler’s name recognition and connect him with potential constituents. The campaign has also been holding voter registration drives every weekend on Old Campus and Cross Campus.
Halikias said an official campaign kickoff is to come.
Eidelson’s event drew together a coalition of progressive students on campus, including a large contingent from the Yale College Democrats — who have officially endorsed Eidelson — and from the activist group Students Unite Now, which formed out of its members’ campaign work on behalf of Eidelson in 2011.
Dems President Nicole Hobbs ’14 spoke at Saturday’s gathering, saying Eidelson has been “a great friend of the Dems” and praised her for involving students in the charter reform process that will see modifications to New Haven’s organizing document put to voters in November.
Both Ward 1 co-chairs — Ben Crosby ’14 and Nia Holston ’14 — have endorsed Eidelson, and both highlighted her efforts to engage community members in her work on the Board, with Crosby crediting Eidelson for promoting the tweak to the charter that could place two student representatives on the New Haven Board of Education.
Crosby was one of Eidelson’s core supporters in her 2011 campaign. Holston supported her Democratic opponent, Vinay Nayak ’14.
Despite their official backing of Eidelson, the Dems have declined to endorse a mayoral candidate, even after Connecticut State Sen. Toni Harp ARC ’78 clinched the Democratic Primary.
Even before the Primary, Eidelson and Harp traded endorsements. Yet because the Dems remain neutral, their members have agreed not to stump for one mayoral candidate or another during canvassing for Eidelson, said Rachel Miller ’15, a supporter of Harp’s Independent challenger, Ward 1 Alderman Justin Elicker FES ’10 SOM ’10.
“There are Elicker people involved in the Dems too, and we’ve been assured there aren’t going to be joint canvasses for Harp,” Miller said. “We’re all Democrats, though, and we all agree that Sarah has done a lot for Ward 1.”
After the open house, teams of Eidelson supporters left to canvass students.