In a surprisingly contentious two-hour meeting Sunday, the Ward 1 Democratic Committee approved several changes to the rules proposed for next week’s aldermanic nominating convention. Most notably, the committee decided not to utilize a run-off balloting system and to ban last-minute replacements for delegates who cannot attend the convention.
Lex Paulson ’02, Michael Montano ’03, Anne Leone ’03 and Ben Healey ’04 are seeking to replace Julio Gonzalez ’99 as the alderman for Ward 1, which is comprised mainly of Yale students and contains Old Campus and eight residential colleges.
Next Sunday, most members of the Ward Committee, which includes 48 Yale students, Gonzalez and co-chairs Frederick J. Streets and Bruce Blair, will serve as delegates to a nominating convention that will choose to put one of the candidates on the ballot for September’s primary election. Other candidates may earn a spot on the ballot by gathering signatures.
The candidates and about half of the members of the committee gathered in the elegant Rose Alumni House to hear Gonzalez and former Ward 1 Aldermen Josh Civin ’96 and Mike Morand ’87 DIV ’93 describe the position. However, those speeches were quickly overshadowed since committee members haggled over the convention rules proposed by Streets, Blair, Gonzalez and Ward 1 Assistant Registrar of Voters Rob Smuts ’01.
Anika Singh ’01 first raised objections to the proposal that the committee hold three votes, with one candidate eliminated each time, saying the system could allow collusion between candidates. After a lengthy discussion of alternatives and warnings by Gonzalez that eliminating run-offs would lead to a very long convention, the committee nevertheless decided to keep voting by secret ballot, with all candidates eligible, until one candidate receives a majority.
The resolution to eliminate run-offs, which passed with only one dissenter, Candice Maldonado ’03, also included a provision to release each ballot tally to the candidates, public and committee members. Although Gonzalez, Maldonado, Shonu Gandhi ’03 and others expressed concerns that candidates receiving only a handful of votes might be emotionally hurt by public release of the tallies, the committee eventually agreed the process would be more open and democratic if the tallies were made public.
The committee also decided to ban proxies — replacement delegates — although Smuts said Sunday night that the committee forgot to consider how absentee delegates would affect what constitutes a majority — and will discuss that issue next Sunday. The meeting concluded with the committee approving a proposal to have a subcommittee, made up of volunteers, draft questions this week that the candidates will answer before taking general questions from the committee.
Committee member Jacob Remes ’02 said he was pleased the committee had extensive negotiations, rather than simply accepting the convention rules as they were presented. Smuts agreed.
“Obviously, for someone who was trying to figure out beforehand, the inclination is to protect the way I set the rules up, but I am very happy that the committee demonstrated its independence and its commitment to fleshing out every issue,” Smuts said.