To the Editor:

The proposal to reduce the size of the Board of Aldermen, combined with the effort to lengthen the term of the mayor from two to four years, threatens New Haven’s already faltering democracy.

New Haven is a city of neighborhoods, each of which has its own particular needs and concerns. Subsuming these unique neighborhoods into larger representative units would significantly diminish the voice of residents.

New Haven’s democracy is already crippled by entrenched one party government. Just as the threat of a primary challenge every two years helps to keep the mayor accountable, a broadly representative board of aldermen helps to ensure that the voices of residents are heard.

A democratic government — unwieldy, messy, and inefficient as it may be — is infinitely more representative and responsive than the command regime for which the charter reformers evidently yearn.

Peter Dobkin Hall

March 6, 2002

The writer is the president of Ronan-Edgehill Neighborhood Association in New Haven.