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.”

  • bcrosby

    “[Newman] added that this support demonstrates where Sarah’s support has come from over the course of the race.” Real classy, Team Nayak. These sorts of insinuations have been a constant for the last month or so, and they’ve never been true. Go Sarah!

  • Dynasty

    I don’t understand your comment, bcrosby. It certainly seems like a logical inference from this blatantly illegal act on the part of the Eidelson campaign; what evidence are you presenting beyond belittling the accusation?

  • bcrosby

    @Dynasty: So what we have here is an accusation – nothing more – by the campaign manager of the opposing campaign. I’m not suggesting Zak’s complaint shouldn’t be investigated, but let’s remember that it is just an accusation at this point.

    Moreover, even if this accusation is true – which, to stress again, it may well not be – one worker driving around with a Yale student hardly “demonstrates where Sarah’s support has come from over the course of the race.” If – again, if – it is true, it seems a lot more honest to read it as a lapse comparable to (if admittedly less serious than) the Nayak campaign’s finance issues rather than the culmination of the sort of conspiracy that Zak seems to be alleging. Sarah’s campaign has been driven by students and student concerns, and to claim otherwise strikes me as utterly unfair.

  • Electionday


    “Sarah’s campaign has been driven by students and student concerns, and to claim otherwise strikes me as utterly unfair.”

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding your claim, but the Eidelson campaign has been highlighting support from non-students including other aldermen, new haven residents, and yale employees for weeks. Your own literature boasts of Sarah’s abilities to address the concerns of non-students. In that regard both the idea that her campaign has been driven by “student concerns” alone and your righteous indignation at any suggestion otherwise prove a cute spin but ultimately a silly one to those who have been paying even the slightest attention.

  • bcrosby

    @ElectionDay – Sorry, I may have been a bit hyperbolic/didn’t articulate myself clearly. Yes, Sarah definitely has support from groups and people who aren’t Yale students, and sure, it’s fair to infer that Sarah’s endorsers are confident that she’ll be addressing their concerns/willing to work with them on matters of mutual concern on the BoA. What I’m arguing against is the notion (present particularly in Zak’s comment here, Dan Hornung’s op-ed, and some of the rhetoric used during the debate) that Sarah’s campaign is somehow not primarily by and for Yale students. Yes – one of Sarah’s strengths is that she is willing and able to build (and in fact already has built) relationships with folks in New Haven that aren’t students. But that doesn’t mean – as the Nayak campaign continues to allege – that Sarah’s campaign isn’t grounded in the needs and concerns of her specific constituents.

  • brct13

    @bcrosby – re Newman’s “allegations”… looks pretty obvious to me what it is we’re looking at:!/zaknewman/status/133884240457777152/photo/1/large

  • bcrosby

    @brct14: So, I don’t think it’s entirely clear what’s going on based upon that picture alone. It could be that the picture represents exactly what Newman says it does – or it could be that it’s just an Eidelson campaign volunteer walking next to a Yale worker.

    But I think this debate is moving away from the most important point: let’s say the picture does represent exactly what Zak Newman says it does. That means someone at the Eidelson campaign made a mistake. No one from the Eidelson campaign, as far as I know, is using the the Nayak campaign’s failure to comply with CT elections law to allege that Vinay’s entire campaign has been dirty or corrupt. Even if the allegations are true, I don’t see how this situation is really any different – in both cases, a mistake was made; that mistake needs to be investigated – but to make wild claims about entire campaigns seems profoundly unfair.

  • Electionday

    What is the “wild claim?”

    That this image shows the kind of non-student support the Eidelson campaign has been flaunting all along?

  • bcrosby

    @Electionday: Newman’s claim is more than just that the Eidelson campaign has had some non-student support – that’s indisputable. Rather, the rhetoric above, especially when considered alongside other statements made by members of the Nayak campaign, insinuates that Sarah has been supported “over the course of the race” by some shadowy cabal of outsiders rather than by Yale students. This is absolute hogwash – election-day mudslinging, nothing more.

  • Electionday

    Possibly akin to the types of mudslinging comments about Vinay being “from the Ivory Tower” or “a slick politician” that you were so adamantly defending yesterday?

  • bcrosby

    So, I mean, if you want to talk about that: I stated in the comments on the YDN endorsement that I felt the language of “slick politician” was unfair. That doesn’t sound like “adamantly defending” to me. Moreover, essentially charging that a candidate is lying about/concealing her support base seems to be of a much higher order of magnitude than (perhaps mis)characterizing certain attributes of a candidate a certain way. The difference in medium matters, too: an endorsement written by an outside organization versus statements made by senior campaign staff. Even if some of the language used by the YDN yesterday was unfair, these are two very different situations.