May 26th, 2011 | Uncategorized

Goldfield faces challenger in Ward 29

The President of the Board of Aldermen, Ward 29 Alderman Carl Goldfield, will face a challenger from one of Yale’s unions when he runs for a tenth term as alderman.

Brian Wingate, a Local 35 executive board member and former custodian at Yale Medical School, said he is running to unseat Goldfield, who has been president of the board since 2006. While Goldfield has served the city well, Wingate said, the time has come for “new leadership.”

While Wingate is seeking the endorsements of Locals 34 and 35 as well as other unions, he said his candidacy not motivated by the current tensions between the city employee unions and Mayor John DeStefano Jr.’s administration. Instead, he said he is primarily motivated by changes he has seen in his neighborhood, Beaver Hills, including heightened crime over the past several years.

Still, Wingate criticized DeStefano’s approach to balancing the city’s budget, which he said has targeted city employees who were already struggling financially. The average salary of the city workers laid off in February was about 36,000, well below the average city employee salary of about 57,000.

“That’s not the best way to try to save New Haven,” Wingate said. “We can go another route to keep the city sustainable.”

Since 2007, Wingate, who started working as a Yale custodian at age 22, has worked as a facilitator between labor and management at the University — an experience which he said would help navigate difficult budget issues.

While Wingate said his motivation to run against Goldfield is not related directly to Goldfield’s record on the Board of Aldermen, he did identify one issue on which the two are at odds: the proposed stormwater authority. The authority, which failed to pass the Board of Aldermen this year, would have charged property owners — including nonprofits such as Yale and Yale-New Haven Hospital — for the city’s stormwater runoff services, currently paid for by property taxes.

Goldfield argued that while the authority would have created additional fees on homeowners, it would more equitably allocate the burden of paying for the city’s handling of runoff by requiring tax-exempt institutions to contribute.

“It’s not a tax on Yale, but it is a way to get Yale to contribute more to the city infrastructure which it enjoys,” Goldfield said.

But while Wingate said he is in favor of “getting Yale to pay their fair share,” he said most New Haveners cannot afford the extra bills.

The stormwater authority was officially withdrawn from budget considerations when the Board of Aldermen passed the city’s budget Monday night. Officials said the authority would be reintroduced in the next budget cycle.

Wingate and Goldfield will face off in a Democratic primary Sept. 13.

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