The resignation was sudden, the replacement swift, and so the Yale College Democrats’ change in leadership last month went nearly unnoticed.
Former President Abbey Hudson ’03 announced her resignation to the Democrats’ executive board Sept. 9, and immediately appointed the group’s Events Coordinator Michelle Mayorga ’03 as her successor. Hudson said she wanted to spend this semester — which would have been the second half of her presidential term — focusing on building a state coalition of college Democrats. But the pair never e-mailed the group about the change, and members only found out about it at a meeting on Sept. 17, when Mayorga introduced herself as president.
But executive board members said the switch was for the good of the group. And, they added, the group was so enmeshed last month with the New Haven mayoral primary and recruiting new members that the executive board decided not to dwell on the switch by discussing it with members.
“We were so focused on turning out the vote, it just didn’t seem that important,” Campaign Coordinator Samantha Jay ’04 said. “Change of president? Who cares? We have to turn out the vote.”
Jay added that following a divisive Ward 1 aldermanic primary last winter and mayoral primary campaigning this summer, the group was bogged down by “infighting.” Jay said the change in the group’s presidency this year was a chance for a fresh start.
“All we want to do is present a united front, not brush things under the rug,” Jay said. “We want to show [members] that we really are together.”
One member of the group said Hudson’s relationship with Mayor John DeStefano Jr.’s re-election campaign was strained, making any coordination between the Democrats and the mayor’s campaign difficult. Mayorga, as a result, seemed a better choice to lead the group, the member said.
Prior to becoming president of the Democrats, Mayorga was chairwoman of “Team DeStefano at Yale.” She also worked this summer for the mayor’s campaign.
So, at the start of September when the Democrats were focused on the primaries, Mayorga emerged as an even stronger leader for the group because of her close relationship to the DeStefano campaign. The Democrats endorsed DeStefano last month.
Hudson said the decision to resign was solely hers.
She cited a desire to focus on more wide-reaching college Democrat issues.
“As president, you have to take on a broader spectrum of issues,” Hudson said. “If you want to focus on one or two issues, that’s limiting and not fair for the group.”
Hudson, an organizer for United Students At Yale, said that her involvement with USAY did not conflict with her work as Democrats president. She will remain an officer-at-large with the Democrats, continuing her leadership.
“There was no pressure from the group [for Hudson] to resign,” Jay said. “It was more of a self-imposed pressure.”
The Yale Democrats’ constitution states that upon resignation, the president appoints a successor, circumventing the annual election process, which is still slated for early December this year. Mayorga has yet to decide whether to run for re-election.
“We were building instead of going to the past,” Mayorga said. “I have nothing but respect for [Hudson].”