In seeking your vote in Tuesday’s election for mayor, I want to answer the question that many students ask me: Why should I vote in New Haven? And it is not a bad question, as many students will only live in New Haven for four years and care about issues in their home state. But I think that there are important reasons for Yalies to vote in New Haven, especially this election.
Students often tell me about the town-gown divide between New Haven and Yale. Engaging in New Haven politically is a simple and important way to engage with the broader community. And when you do go to vote, you should choose the candidate that you feel will best work to connect Yale and New Haven. And I feel that I am that candidate. I have committed to providing more opportunities for Yale students to both provide service in New Haven and to start businesses and engage in entrepreneurial activity here. On the Board of Aldermen, I have fought to ensure that the relationship between Yale and New Haven is a dialogue of equals. I have come to campus over ten times, to speak with students and win your votes.
And while you may not identify New Haven as your home, you certainly have issues that matter to you. This election, one that will elect the first new mayor in many students’ lifetimes, is a referendum on the type of government that we want in this city. If you think that national reform is needed in one of several policy areas, you can advance them locally by voting here in 2013.
Through the campaign, I have committed to clean elections, using public financing and rejecting donations from PACs, lobbyists and city contractors. My opponent hasn’t. If you believe in campaign finance reform, you should vote for me.
For too long, local governments have stayed too distant from the population they serve. Throughout my political career, I have met with thousands of people in New Haven, jumping from one small community meeting to another. I have given everyone in this city my phone number, (203) 500-2969. My opponent often has surrogates speak for her, even on important policy initiatives, and has created a leadership team that includes figures from New Haven’s corrupt past. If you believe that the mayor should be accessible and should reject corruption, you should vote for me.
I have also set forth an ambitious agenda to reform education in New Haven. In my 75 Days, 75 Solutions series on my website, I have outlined detailed policies that will allow us to guarantee early-childhood education for all, improve performance for low-income students and better technical training for those not headed to a four-year college. If you believe in quality urban education systems, you should vote for me.
Crime continues to plague New Haven and many cities in the United States, but draconian tactics like stop-and-frisk are not the answer. That is why I have committed to enhanced community policing, where officers engage respectfully and meaningfully with the local population, and proposed a series of initiatives to deal with the underlying causes of crime. We should provide more after-school programming and promote job growth in low-income communities. Because I believe that people who have served their time deserve to be forgiven and get a second chance, my administration will make it easier for ex-offenders to access opportunity. If you believe we need a new approach to criminal justice in this country, you should vote for me.
Public health, despite being a vital issue, often does not get the attention it deserves from politicians. That will change when I am mayor. As a graduate of Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, I am deeply concerned with issues of environmental justice here in New Haven, where the asthma rate is one of the highest in America. My administration will also pursue policies that enhance the availability and quality of primary healthcare for the poor, work with pregnant mothers to improve both their and their child’s health and will enact the city’s Food Action Plan to promote a healthier, more sustainable diet in the city. If you want a mayor who is strong on public health, you should vote for me.
On the national issues that so many Yale students care about, I have established myself as a candidate committed to progressive change. Through the campaign, I have outlined 75 different ways that we can make New Haven stronger. On Tuesday, you can think globally and vote locally, picking a candidate committed to the same ideals as you. If you aren’t registered in New Haven, you can visit City Hall on Election Day to register and vote. Doing so will help to truly transform this city.
Justin Elicker is a candidate for mayor of New Haven.