University Towers is becoming quite the political hotbed.
Bobby Pelgrift ’04 said he is considering running for Ward 7 alderman, just days after Daniel Adamson ’98 LAW ’03 — his neighbor in the off-campus apartment building at 100 York St. –dropped out of the race.
Last Thursday, incumbent Democratic Alderwoman Esther Armmand announced she would resign April 30 because she had moved out of the ward. While Armmand had already decided not to run for re-election this fall, her early resignation forces a special election, which must be held by the end of June. The regularly scheduled election will follow this fall.
Labor activist Dolores Colon ’91 is also considering running for the seat.
Pelgrift served as secretary of the Yale College Democrats in the fall of 1999 before leaving Yale last spring for personal reasons.
Now married and living off-campus, Pelgrift said he was interested in setting up a program in which the city government would pay New Haven school children who surpass a certain threshold on standardized tests.
Pelgrift said he worked for the 1999 re-election campaign of Ward 2 Alderman Jelani Lawson ’96 and worked for New York Sen. Charles Schumer for three years.
Adamson, a Democrat who had been seriously considering seeking the seat, said he would not run because Armmand’s resignation will force a summer special election. He said he was concerned that most Yale students in Ward 7’s Pierson and Davenport colleges would not be in New Haven for the June election. He also said he might be working in New York at that time.
Adamson’s decision paved the way for Colon, who has been heavily involved with Ward 7 politics. Sources said Colon will have Armmand’s support in the election. The winner of June’s election will have the advantage of incumbency in September’s Democratic primary, and the Democratic candidate is not expected to face strong opposition in November.
Armmand would not discuss her resignation or the race to succeed her.
“I will give my side of the story when I choose to,” she said.
Victor Corona ’03, who lives in Davenport and has been active in Ward 7, said he looked forward to meeting Pelgrift and talking to him about the city, but added that he was still very supportive of Colon.
Lex Paulson ’02, who served as chairman of the Yale College Democrats when Pelgrift was secretary, said Pelgrift should proceed carefully.
“I’m very concerned that students that want to get involved in student politics do it the right way,” said Paulson. “I hope that Bobby would have a lot of conversations with people in the city before he decides to run.”
Colon, who said she had never heard of Pelgrift, said she saw no problem with committed students seeking office.
“If there’s a student who really cares about New Haven and really wants to make a life here, that’s OK,” said Colon. “What bugs me is that there’s the transient population that wants to cut their political teeth while they’re in New Haven.”
Student-city relations in Ward 7 remain tense after the 1999 Democratic primary in which Asit Gosar ’00 defeated Armmand only to withdraw after the Yale Daily News reported he had registered ineligible students to vote.