While the mayoral race between incumbent John DeStefano Jr. and Sherri Killins may be the first thing on the mind of many voters in today’s Democratic primaries, several other hotly contested races will take place throughout the city for positions lower on the ballot.
Yale students in Ward 22 — including residents of Ezra Stiles, Morse, Silliman and Timothy Dwight colleges and Swing Space — will select a Democratic nominee for alderman. Incumbent Mae Ola Riddick, who is currently serving her second term as alderwoman, is running against Drew King and Douglas Bethea.
King is one of 17 aldermanic candidates endorsed by the New Haven Democratic Town Committee — the local branch of the Democratic party — who are being challenged in today’s primary. The town committee’s candidates will appear on the first line of the ballot, followed by the names of challengers who submitted petitions signed by five percent of registered Democrats in the ward.
But the race in Ward 22 is particularly contentious, as Riddick said she was not invited to the ward committee meeting where King was endorsed. The decision of the ward committee — which King co-chairs — was the determining factor in who the town committee endorsed on today’s ballot.
In addition, the strike by Yale locals 34 and 35 has become a major political issue in the ward. King is closely affiliated with the striking unions, while Riddick has been more critical of the strike.
“I’m a union member,” said Riddick, who is employed by the city of New Haven. “Do I agree with everything the unions do? No. Have the unions done everything to my satisfaction? No. Has Yale done everything to my satisfaction? No.”
King’s supporters have blamed the University for getting involved in the race in Ward 22. Registered Democrats in the ward received an e-mail Monday from Hugh Eastwood ’00 LAW ’06, a former employee of the university’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs. Eastwood asked students to vote for Riddick, describing her as “a strong leader for the Dixwell neighborhood who is responsive to Yale students.”
Ward 1 Alderman Ben Healey ’04 said the strike could play an important role in Ward 22, which includes Silliman and Timothy Dwight for the first time.
“I think the labor issue is a proxy for two candidates who are both looking to represent their community, and I think it’s unfortunate when people outside of the ward are trying to dictate who is going to win,” Healey said.
Voters in Wards 2 and 7 — which do not include any Yale dorms but do contain the off-campus housing of many Yale students — will also be voting in aldermanic primaries. Andre Baker will run against David Watts DIV ’03 in Ward 2 for the right to challenge Green Party incumbent Joyce Chen ’01. In Ward 7, Frances “Bitsie” Clark will run against Gary Winfield, as the incumbent, Dolores Colon, has moved to Ward 6. Baker and Clark have both been endorsed by the Democratic Town Committee.
In Ward 1, which is almost entirely dominated by Yale students, Healey is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination, although he will be challenged by Daniel Kruger ’04 in November.