Amidst last night’s victory parties for newly elected mayor Toni Harp ARC ’78 and Ward 1 Alderwoman Sarah Eidelson ’12, Yale students expressed mixed reactions to the results of an election that altered New Haven’s political landscape.
The municipal elections included a contested aldermanic competition between incumbent Eidelson and Republican Paul Chandler ’14, which consists primarily of Yalies. This race between two Yale-affiliates brought a number of students to the Ward 1 polling site at the New Haven Free Public Library, but did not encourage a large voter turnout in areas outside of Ward 1. As of last week, 52.69 percent of eligible student voters at Yale did not plan to vote in the elections, according to a survey conducted by the News.
Students who did decide to vote in the election said that the results would largely define Yale-New Haven relations.
“This election is perhaps even more important than the presidential election because this will directly shape what goes on in the city,” Elicker supporter Rafi Bildner ’16 said. “It’s the first time in two decades that we have an opportunity to really change city politics and it could be the most important election that Yale students ever vote in.”
Student volunteers for Eidelson’s campaign also said that the results of the election would impact the city’s trajectory.
Alex Lew ’15, who spent the entire day campaigning for Eidelson, said that by voting, students showed that they care about city politics, and added that Eidelson’s win would allow the city to continue to improve on issues related to Yale, including community policing and safety.
While student voters in Ward 1 said they had a direct stake in the elections, many students living in the four residential colleges outside of Ward 1 decided not to vote and said they were unaware of the results post-election.
Timothy Dwight, Silliman, Morse and Ezra Stiles colleges are in Ward 22.
Austen James ’17, who lives in Silliman College, said she had the impression that the only race that would impact Yale students was that between Eidelson and Chandler. She decided not to vote because she would not be able to voice an opinion for either of the Ward 1 candidates.
Lauren Mellor-Crummey, ’14, who lives off-campus in Ward 7 said that even though she is registered to vote in CT, she chose not to participate in the municipal elections, since Yalies are largely focused on the contested Ward 1 race.
“I don’t feel connected to local politics because I don’t live in Ward 1,” Mellor-Crummey said.
While students involved in campaign efforts said the election results would critically impact Yalies, several students interviewed post-election questioned whether having new city leaders would have a visible impact on students.
Simon Schaitkin ’17 said that in his two months as a Yale student, he has yet to have a conversation about how city policies impact student life. Schaitkin said that he did not think he new enough about the candidates to make an educated endorsement.
Eidelson won 513 votes while Chandler’s received 285.