Nick Agar-Johnson ’16 opened the door of his suite on Saturday afternoon to find Republican Ward 1 candidate Paul Chandler ’14 ready to explain why the Calhoun sophomore should vote for him over Democratic Incumbent Sarah Eidelson ’12 in Tuesday’s aldermanic election. On Sunday, another knock at the door brought Agar-Johnson face-to-face with Chandler’s opponent, as Eidelson had come make a pitch of her own.
Teams of canvassers crisscrossed campus over the weekend, knocking on dorm-room doors and phoning students who eluded them. Both campaigns plan to further ramp up efforts in advance of Tuesday’s election.
Chandler introduced himself as an alternative to Eidelson, describing his vision of the Ward 1 spot on the Board of Aldermen and bringing along Democratic Ward 19 Alderman-elect Mike Stratton to denounce Eidelson. Eidelson did not reference Chandler’s candidacy. Instead, she employed battle-tested get-out-the-vote tactics, seeking to secure support among scores of registered Democrats the Chandler campaign has worked to pick off from the incumbent.
“The biggest hurdle is getting people past the Republican label,” Chandler said between treks up Calhoun entryways. “Sarah’s depending on people who identify as Democrats just voting on the ‘D’ or the ‘R.’”
At students’ doors, Chandler and Stratton downplayed the Republican label, focusing on the city’s ills and the need for “independent thinkers,” as Stratton said, leaders unaffiliated with Yale’s Unite Here unions, Locals 34 and 35.
Chandler, who has established considerable name recognition over the past two months, began by letting students know he wants to be their alderman, a position “traditionally reserved for a student voice on the city legislature,” he emphasized. He briefly described his policy commitments — highlighting education and fiscal sustainability — before asking students if they had any questions.
Vivienne Hay ’14 asked Chandler how he planned to increase the city’s revenue if it came entirely from property taxes. Chandler responded that he would try to expand the tax base by luring in more businesses, which he said depended on a more transparent zoning code and a more stable tax rate.
Chandler did not ask students for whom they were voting, nor did he dwell on Eidelson’s tenure on the Board. He left that to Stratton, who said that Chandler formed part of a coalescing group of candidates and sitting aldermen unaffiliated with Yale’s unions that also included himself, Ward 7 Alderman Doug Hausladen ’04, Ward 10 Democratic candidate Anna Festa, Ward 8 Independent candidate Andy Ross and Ward 25 write-in candidate Mike Pinto.
“The current Yale incumbent is really bad news,” Stratton told Agar-Johnson, accusing Eidelson of being part of a supermajority of union-backed aldermen who “use the Board to negotiate contracts with Yale.”
Eidelson had more than 40 volunteers out canvassing over the weekend, including Ward 29 Alderman Brian Wingate, who serves as the vice president of Local 35, and a group of middle and high school students Eidelson said she has worked with in her capacity as chair of the Board’s youth services committee.
In Pierson, Eidelson and her campaign manager, Sarah Cox ’15, focused on getting students to the polls, seeking out registered voters and asking them to pledge to vote on a sign-up sheet. Having voters commit to come to the polls and then following up with a phone call on Election Day increases voter turnout by 11 percent, according to the youth vote nonprofit Rock the Vote.
Chandler said his volunteers on Election Day will stress same-day registration as an option for students who wish to vote but have not registered. Eidelson said she is principally focused on the large number of students who are already registered.
After confirming their support, Eidelson and Cox strategized with Maneesh Vij ’15, Mendy Yang ’15 and Aneesha Ahluwalia ’16 about the best time to vote, asking when their first class is on Tuesday and suggesting they go to the polls early in the morning to avoid long lines.
Some students took little convincing, persuaded by Eidelson’s or Chandler’s presence at their doors. Eric Rodriguez ’15 said he plans to vote for Chandler because he has a better sense of his platform and has not heard from Eidelson. Vij said Chandler has not come by his room and added that he trusts the incumbent.
Other students took more convincing, including Una Boyle ’16, who told Eidelson and Cox she did not plan to vote but said she changed her mind after a lengthy pitch about Eidelson’s efforts to revamp community policing and the need to integrate Ward 1 more within the fabric of the rest of the city. She promised Eidelson her vote.
“Wards are small,” Cox told Agar-Johnson. “Your vote has a huge impact in a race this close and this small.”
962 Ward 1 residents voted in 2011.