Today is Election Day in the Elm City.
When the polls close at 8 p.m., city residents will have elected a new mayor — as well as seven lawmakers facing contested general elections for spots on the New Haven Board of Aldermen. Over the weekend, campaigns readied get-out-the-vote operations that go into full effect today, as teams of canvassers traverse the city to bring supporters to the polls and convince voters who remain undecided.
Toni Harp ARC ’78 and Justin Elicker FES ’10 SOM ’10 square off Tuesday for a second time this fall now in a two-way race that includes Republican and unaffiliated voters. Both candidates said their campaigns have knocked every door in the city in the days leading up to the election.
Harp rallied over 100 supporters on Friday evening at St. Luke’s Parish Hall on Whalley Ave., drumming up excitement in the final stretch of the campaign alongside senior members of the state’s Washington delegation. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73 and Chris Murphy, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro and numerous state legislators came to stump for the Democratic-endorsed candidate.
“Walk out of here with a renewed spirit and renewed vigor; let’s tell people that I am going to be the first woman mayor,” Harp told the crowd, pitching a final message to her supporters.
Blumenthal and Murphy praised Harp’s 20-year tenure as a state senator, with Murphy calling her the “conscience of Hartford” and a champion for the disadvantaged across the state.
Jason Bartlett, Harp’s campaign manager, said the campaign has sought to mobilize roughly 500 canvassers across the city in advance of Election Day, who returned to identified supporters to confirm their plans to vote and followed up a final time with all registered voters.
Elicker rallied supporters on Friday evening at his campaign headquarters also on Whalley Ave., telling roughly 50 attendees that his campaign had picked up momentum in the final days of the race. Kermit Carolina, the principal of Hillhouse High school who dropped out of the mayoral race and endorsed Elicker following the primary, praised the petitioning Independent candidate for his commitment to ethical and transparent governance.
Elicker said teams of canvassers in each of the city’s neighborhoods have worked since September to overcome Harp’s lead coming out of the September’s primary.
“Toni had a lot of name recognition leading into the primary,” Elicker told the News. “Having more time to canvass and talk to people has tightened this race.”
Elicker Campaign Manager Kyle Buda said he is confident about Election Day, estimating that Harp has had no appreciable gains in support since coming short of the coveted simple majority in the September’s primary. Michael Stratton, Ward 19 alderman-elect and a top Elicker volunteer, said Elicker will clinch the election if 20 percent of the 18,746 unaffiliated voters in New Haven support him on Tuesday.
Canvassing efforts have been equally ambitious in the Ward 1 aldermanic race, where Democratic Incumbent Sarah Eidelson ’12 is facing off against Republican challenger Paul Chandler ’14. The candidates ramped up door-knocking efforts over the weekend and on Monday. Both campaigns said they will return to all registered voters on Tuesday, while Chandler said his campaign will also stress same-day registration as an option for unregistered supporters.
Six other wards feature contested general elections. Democrat Aaron Greenberg GRD ’18 and Independent Andy Ross are vying for alderman in Wooster Square’s Ward 8. Republican Frank Lobo MED ’92 is running in Ward 6 to unseat Democratic Incumbent Dolores Colon, and Republican William Wynn is facing Democrat Anna Festa in a race to fill Elicker’s vacated seat in Ward 10.
Wards 11, 25 and 7 also face contested races, with write-in candidates challenging the Democratic incumbent.
Ward 8 Alderman Michael Smart is running to unseat 10-year Incumbent City/Town Clerk Ron Smith. Smart and Harp, both endorsed by the Democratic Town Committee, are running on a ticket, opposed by the duo of Elicker and Smith.
In addition to electoral choices, voters will also decide on potential changes to the city’s charter. The first question asks whether the city should move from a fully-appointed Board of Education to one that includes two elected members and two non-voting student participants. The second question combines a series of changes, the most notable of which is whether the Board of Aldermen should approve top mayoral appointments. It also asks whether the city should establish a police-oversight Civilian Review Board and whether the official title of “alderman” should be replaced with the gender-neutral “alder.”