New Haven is a great city with boundless potential. From a great university to great neighborhoods, New Haven has the assets to become a world-class community.
During my tenure as Mayor, we have made substantial progress towards tapping New Haven’s potential by focusing on the right priorities. Over the past eight years, the New Haven government used prosperous times to rebuild our schools, strengthen neighborhoods, and attract new businesses.
The results are clear.
Crime has been cut in half — exceeding national averages for urban centers. Homeownership has grown as we have replaced large, dilapidated public housing complexes with livable, mixed-income communities. We have demolished hundreds of blighted buildings and replaced them with community gardens.
A billion-dollar school construction program has made it possible to provide school children with top-notch facilities as well as smaller classrooms. Our highly-touted magnet school program has energized our public school system. And we have created jobs and opportunity by boosting life science companies, as well as nurturing local small businesses.
Tuesday’s general election will provide citizens across New Haven a clear choice between two paths for our city. Voters will choose whether they wish to continue creating neighborhoods and schools that provide opportunity for every member of our city, or whether they want to pursue unworkable policies aimed at gentrifying neighborhoods and creating economically isolated schools.
Simply put, the right priorities for New Haven are to strengthen our neighborhoods and public schools. I will invest in neighborhoods by building quality homes for working-families, caring for our public parks, fostering neighborhood-based small businesses, and continuing to cut crime.
My priorities for the schools are to provide high-quality preschool to every New Haven child, attract quality teachers, and to continue creating successful, economically-integrated schools by expanding our public school choice program.
On the other hand, my opponent would prefer to narrowly focus on creating more high-end apartments across the city. His plans neglect additional working class homeownership opportunities in our residential neighborhoods, and are openly hostile of New Haven’s role as the region’s main provider of public housing and homeless services.
The same flawed philosophy applies to his vision for public education. Instead of creating successful learning environments by bringing children from low-income and affluent neighborhoods together into the same classrooms, my opponent’s desire for “neighborhood” schools will stall the recent districtwide gains made in standardized test scores and social development assessments.
By abandoning our magnet school program, my opponent would create a deeply segregated education system with poor children concentrated in schools in low-income neighborhoods. Eliminating public school choice would also drive out middle-class parents who have stayed in New Haven because of the educational options our magnet schools provide.
My opponent has offered no coherent vision to create jobs. My plan will be to concentrate on building our port for cargo due to traffic from Interstate 95. The city will continue to strengthen our commercial strips and small businesses — from Grand Avenue to Whalley Avenue to the growing biotech centers at 300 George St. and Science Park that alone employ over 1,500 people.
We will also continue to support our emerging status as the region’s culture and arts capital by supporting institutions such as the International Festival of Arts and Ideas and Citywide Open Studios.
If re-elected, I will continue to provide the proven leadership that makes this city the state’s best-managed urban center. From making our streets safer, to working constructively with Yale to improve our neighborhoods and downtown, my administration will seek to continue creating partnerships with all of our citizens to tap New Haven’s promise. We achieved too much during the past eight years to go backward. Let’s keep New Haven moving forward by choosing the right priorities for our great city.
John DeStefano Jr. is the Democratic Party candidate in New Haven’s Nov. 6 mayoral election.