November 8th, 2011 | City

UPDATED: Dispatch from the polls: Ward 1

Vinay Nayak's '14 campaign is headquarted in Dwight Hall.
Vinay Nayak's '14 campaign is headquarted in Dwight Hall. Photo by Nick Defiesta.

The race for Ward 1 alderman is well underway, with teams for both Sarah Eidelson ’12 and Vinay Nayak ’14 knocking on doors and making phone calls encouraging students to vote.

As of 12:30 p.m. more than 300 Ward 1 residents had voted, and both candidates have said they expect that number to rise drastically as the day continues and students vote after classes.

“The enthusiasm’s been awesome. There’s been a pretty long line to vote,” Nayak said. “Regardless of what happens today there will be a lot more people involved in the city.”

Nayak’s campaign is hunkered down in Dwight Hall, where his campaign will be ordering pizza and sushi for supporters throughout the day as volunteers call those who have not yet voted.

Polls for the Ward 1 aldermanic race have been open for more than 7 hours now, although both candidates and their teams have been awake for longer. Both Eidelson and Nayak said their campaigns spent the early morning posting lawn signs, placing door hangers on student doors and making sure that all campaign workers and their friends have voted.

The turnout for Ward 1 residents, both candidates say, may set a record, as the race has seen more than 1,400 Ward 1 residents join the voter rolls.

“We’ve been talking about the issues students care about,” Eidelson added. “I’m hopeful that we’ll set a record for voter turn out.”

But even the day of the race features some controversy, as Nayak campaign manager Zak Newman ’13 said he spotted a Yale employee driving a university vehicle with an Eidelson supporter, helping to put up signs for the candidate, which is prohibited by Yale’s tax-exempt status. He added that this support demonstrates where Sarah’s support has come from over the course of the race.

A statement by John Bollier, associate vice president for Yale University Facilities, said that Facilities management has been notified about the employee’s actions and that the employee has been suspended pending a university investigation.

Eidelson, though, said she was unaware of this incident, adding that her campaign team for the morning was comprised of only undergraduates.

Mayoral candidates Jeffrey Kerekes and current Mayor John DeStefano Jr. stopped by the New Haven Public Library, Ward 1’s polling location, earlier today.

Polls will remain open until 8 p.m.

UPDATE: 5:06 p.m.

An informal poll conducted by the News between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. found that, of students at the polls, 10 said they were supporting Eidelson and 18 were in favor of Nayak. Students said they were impressed with the organization of Nayak’s campaign, as they said he had a very strong presence on campus.

“It came down to the fact that Vinay ran a really excellent campaign — I met and talked to him personally three times,” said Austin Carder ’15, who said he voted for Nayak. “That was really the only thing because I feel like they could both do good jobs.”

Students in support of Eidelson said they were moved to support her by her experience in the city as well as the fact that, as Caroline Rizzo ’15 said, she is “more genuine.”

Eidelson has worked as an organizer in various capacities in the Elm City for the past three years, including with the Community Voter Project — an organization that aims to register all voters and encourage participation in the political process — and on Sarah Saiano’s campaign for Ward 18 alderman.

Chris Tokita ’14, who said he is supporting Sarah, also cited her endorsements by future aldermen as a motivating factor in his decision.

“The discerning factor was that Sarah has experience in New Haven, more grassroot movement stuff, Tokita said. “New Haven residents are also supporting her, she knows a lot of residents and seems politically and emotionally invested in this city.”