After conceding defeat in Tuesday’s mayoral election, Justin Elicker FES ’10 SOM ’10 remained resolute in his desire for a redefined New Haven.
Toni Harp ARC ’78 racked up 54.66 percent of the city vote to Elicker’s 45.34 percent on her way to becoming the Elm City’s first female mayor. Elicker’s post-poll party at BAR nightclub on Crown Street hosted over 100 campaign team members, volunteers and supporters. Elicker, who ran as an Independent candidate against Democratic Harp and spent the day going to polling places throughout the city to greet voters, entered the restaurant to cheers and chants of his name at around 9 p.m., minutes after the final vote tally had been announced. After congratulating Harp, Elicker used his speech to encourage his supporters to continue working for a better New Haven.
“So much of this campaign isn’t about this election. But it’s about redefining New Haven and redefining our government,” Elicker said. “We have successfully done that, and, as we move forward, I know that you will join me in pushing more on this political system.”
Over the past several months, the Elicker campaign took a grassroots approach to engage citizens of the community who had previously not been involved in political issues, Elicker said in his speech. This approach included an emphasis on public financing and managed to generate enough momentum in its closing days to garner significantly more votes than most had predicted. In the city’s September Democratic primary, Elicker collected only 23.21 percent of the vote, less than half of Harp’s 49.77 percent.
Though Elicker could not specify any plans for the immediate future of his political career, he said that he will take an active role in promoting some of the ideas championed by his campaign over the past few weeks.
“I’m obviously sticking around New Haven,” Elicker said. “I’m going to continue to be involved. I love this city.”
Elicker proceeded to thank his campaign team, starting with his donors, who Elicker said helped drive “the most impressive [fundraising] campaign this city has ever seen.” Additionally, Elicker expressed his gratitude to Kermit Carolina, principal of Hillhouse High School and former fellow mayoral candidate, for endorsing him.
Elicker made his way through various other members of the campaign, field office leaders, his campaign manager and his family before thanking his wife as he momentarily choked back tears.
“The fact that so many people believed in this campaign is so powerful, not just to me,” Elicker said, “but to this city because there are so many more people that are starting to contribute to this city because of your efforts.”
Drew Morrison ’14, who spearheaded Yale for Elicker, the student campaign group in charge of garnering student support, said he was disappointed with the results of the election, but was pleased to see how close the final vote tally ended up being. Morrison attributed the surge in Elicker support to his clear plans for the city’s future and the values with which he conducted his campaign.
“There’s another coalition in town that’s emerging,” Morrison said about the Elicker support in the polls. “It’s a progressive coalition, it’s a grassroots coalition. This has been a very impressive result for Justin.”
When asked about what he would like to see out of Harp as she takes office, Morrison said that he would first like for the new mayor to surround herself with fair and competent people, adding that he did not feel her campaign team to be honorable, citing potential voter fraud with absentee ballots in Ward 8.
J.R. Logan, a 33-year old New Haven resident who volunteered for the Elicker campaign, said he admired Elicker for sticking through what he called “impossible odds.” Logan also said that he’d like to see Harp reach out to and accommodate Elicker supporters, who Logan said demonstrated their significance to the community.
Kathryn Sylvester, another Elicker supporter expressed concern that Harp’s victory means that “the same old machine” will remain in power.
But while Elicker has lost the opportunity to lead the city himself, he said he still sees an opportunity for the ideas he promoted to come to fruition under Harp if citizens remain persistent.