The Green Party staged a minor coup in Tuesday’s aldermanic elections, achieving minority party status for the first time in New Haven history.
In the most surprising upset of the night, Green Party candidate Joyce Chen ’01 toppled Ward 2 incumbent Democrat Linda Townsend-Maier by 52 votes. Ward 9 incumbent John Halle, the Board’s first-ever Green Party member, easily retained his seat against Republican Robert Anderson and Democrat Alexander Marathas. With two members on the board, the Green Party’s new minority party label secures seats on all Board of Aldermen committees.
“[New Haveners have] had enough of 50 years of Democratic machine rule,” said Halle, who won a special election in July following the resignation of Gerald Garcia ’94 SOM ’01. “They want a government that is responsive to their concerns. I’m not listening to the party hierarchy.”
Chen said her initiatives will include providing safer alternatives for New Haven youth trying to stay off the streets. The 22-year-old Chen graduated from Yale last year as a chemistry major in Jonathan Edwards College.
“I didn’t plan on winning, but obviously the people wanted something different,” Chen said.
Townsend-Maier has only held her office for two months. The long-time community activist was appointed to the board on Sept. 4 following the resignation of Jelani Lawson ’96.
Also Tuesday night, Ward 8 Democratic incumbent Vincent Mauro Jr. narrowly defeated Green Party challenger Bruce Crowder by 15 votes. Mauro’s victory was confirmed following a recount.
Democratic politicians were unfazed by the Green Party’s slight rise in power.
“New Haven has 26 out of 30 Democratic seats. I really don’t think one or two will make a difference,” newly reelected Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said. “I don’t think it means anything other than the local politics.”
President of the Board of Aldermen Jorge Perez said the Green Party platform tends to be indistinguishable from that of the Democrats.
“He who works the hardest wins,” Perez said. “I don’t think it’s a wave of voters suddenly switching parties.”
But Green Party members said that their approach was distinct and preferable for residents who want their interests to be heard.
“They want a government that responds to their concerns, more than big campaign donors,” Halle said.
The fate of the Republican Party’s status as a minority party on the board is less certain. Ward 18 Alderwoman Arlene DePino won by 387 votes over Democrat Susan Campion to retain her seat. In Ward 25, the result of incumbent Republican Nancy Ahern’s race against Democrat Anthony Wallace remains uncertain. Ahern’s three-vote margin of victory will necessitate a recount.
Aldermanic races in Yale-related wards were less contentious. In Ward 7, which includes Pierson and Davenport colleges, incumbent Dolores Colon ’91 defeated Republican Clifford Templeton by 199 votes. Ward 1 Alderman Ben Healey ’04 ran in an unopposed race. Both Colon and Healey took office this summer following the resignations of their predecessors. In Ward 22, which includes Ezra Stiles and Morse colleges, Mae Ola Riddick also ran unopposed.