As members of the Ward 1 Democratic Committee prepare for their Sunday endorsement of an aldermanic candidate, schedule last minute meetings with candidates, and discuss the process itself, they are also studying the candidate applications submitted this week.
Lex Paulson ’02, Michael Montano ’03, Anne Leone ’03 and Ben Healey ’04 — all of whom hope to replace outgoing Alderman Julio Gonzalez ’99 — have provided the committee with flowery descriptions of their backgrounds and motivations, and have outlined platforms in an attempt to differentiate themselves from a group of candidates who all come out of Yale and New Haven community organizations.
The candidates used anecdotes and language which at times resembled that of a college essay when describing their backgrounds. Montano described his childhood growing up in a mostly Mexican-American neighborhood of San Antonio, his disappointment at not being taught Spanish by his parents, and his experience at a private high school which he said included students of many different backgrounds.
“Stray dogs and firecrackers, barbecue, barbacoa,” Montano wrote. “Downtown lay a hop-skip away.”
Paulson wrote about how he had learned the importance of inclusion after being excluded from the government club of his private high school in Washington, D.C. He said he realized his exclusion did not compare to many forms of exclusion, but he called it a learning experience nonetheless.
Leone told of her parents’ origins and their raising her in Hamilton, N.Y. — a town which she said had a conservative outlook that conflicted with her family’s background in communism, labor and civil rights.
Healey, the lone freshman in the race, detailed his family’s strong labor background, his experience at a racially diverse yet academically segregated public high school in Washington and his work with the children of prisoners in Bolivia.
The policies the candidates presented differed far less than the life experiences they described. Since all the candidates have experience with New Haven community organizations, they all placed an emphasis on community and social justice issues.
With a possibly contentious renegotiation of Yale’s contracts with its unions looming early next year, all the candidates stressed the importance of labor. All four called for Yale’s neutrality toward worker organization on campus. Multiple candidates also focused on ensuring zoning regulations allow social service organizations to operate effectively, working with the mayor to develop a civilian police-complaint review board, restructuring the Empower New Haven organization and ensuring funding for community groups that work with Yale students.
But the candidates all had their own focuses.
Healey, involved in the Student Labor Action Coalition and the Social Justice Network, extended the Yale-related labor arguments of the other candidates to the rest of New Haven, arguing for employer neutrality as a prerequisite for the city to grant building permits and contracts.
Leone, director of education for the U.S. Grant teaching program, focused on youth issues including juvenile justice, day care for the children of Yale workers and youth social clubs.
The platform of Paulson, former president of the Yale College Democrats, focused not only on social justice issues but also on political issues such as voter registration and the importance of the new alderman quickly earning credibility on the Board of Aldermen.
Montano, who has worked with the Latino student group Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, emphasized the importance of stopping the reopening of the English Station power plant in the Fair Haven neighborhood.