To the Editor:

Adam Gordon, a Law student, recently wrote in the Yale Daily News (“The fragile renaissance of a city,” 9/8) that “shockingly” I handed out cotton candy at a campaign party for a local alderman in the ward in New Haven in which I live. I was quite shocked myself to read that, as no such event or anything remotely like it ever occurred.

While the lack of factual accuracy is troublesome, I care less about that than a much more significant issue raised by the piece. Gordon next describes this activity of involvement in an aldermanic campaign as something a “political hack” would do. This disdain for involvement in the political process is dangerous and corrosive to the functioning of a free society. Local politics are important because the future of our cities depends on the leadership we elect. Yet, elected officials often get paid poorly for their responsibilities compared to the private sector and they must answer to a sometimes extraordinarily demanding and critical public. If we take the cynical view that political engagement is beneath us and that politics is for “hacks,” then hacks are what we will get and what we will deserve. It is our civic responsibility to be active in the political process, to support good candidates who will give us good government, and to support the notion that elected politics is public service that we should honor and respect.

Yale graduates are leaders in many fields, including politics at the local and national level. Carl Amento ’72, for example, is Mayor of Hamden. The sitting President and three of the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination are all graduates of Yale College. That is an extraordinary and vitally important tradition of civic leadership the Yale community should preserve, encourage and dignify.

Bruce D. Alexander ’65

September 16, 2003

The writer is acting vice president for finances and administration.