Only one candidate will be listed on the ballot for Ward 22 Alderman, but the race will still be competitive when voters go to the polls on Tuesday.
As aldermanic races across the city come to a close, the contest in Ward 22 has taken an unexpected turn in recent weeks, with incumbent alderwoman Mae Ola Riddick running a write-in campaign against Democratic nominee Drew King. On Tuesday, Riddick and King will face off in a ward that now includes Silliman and Timothy Dwight colleges in addition to Ezra Stiles, Morse, Swing Space and the Dixwell neighborhood.
At the close of a campaign that has featured contention surrounding the nomination process and this fall’s three-week strike on Yale’s campus, both candidates expressed confidence about their chances on Tuesday.
King, who outpolled Riddick by 19 votes in a hotly contested primary in September, said he believed his message focusing on bringing jobs to his neighborhood and creating a safer community would help him defeat Riddick a second time.
“I’m running to be a leader in my community, to really have the community come alive,” King, who is also a pastor and a co-chairman of the Ward 22 Democratic Committee, said.
But Riddick said she thought she would have won in a two-way primary. She said that with the support of the third-place candidate, Douglas Bethea, she was confident that she would defeat King on Tuesday even though she will not be a listed candidate.
Riddick said King was presenting an unrealistic platform given the fiscal woes the city currently faces and that King was making promises to the community he would not be able to keep.
“He thinks because he’s a man of God, he can change anything,” Riddick said. “It has to be about a neighborhood that wants the change.”
Riddick also said many students — who are a significantly larger voting bloc in Ward 22 after recent redistricting — did not give her a chance to earn their vote because they incorrectly perceived her as an opponent of locals 34 and 35, the Yale unions that were on strike at the time of the primary.
“I think a lot of them were persuaded that I wasn’t a union supporter,” Riddick said. “[But] I never disagreed with the unions and I never agreed with them — I think the unions did some good, and I think the unions did some bad.”
During the primary, King said Riddick was seen with Yale Vice President of New Haven and State Affairs Bruce Alexander at campaign-related events. Alexander, who is a resident of Ward 22, said he was not actively involved in any campaign before or after the primary.
“While I hope that all University employees, no matter where they live, are active in supporting the best possible political leadership, no one is permitted, on University time or in their official capacity as a University employee, to engage in political campaigning for individuals for elective office,” Alexander said in an e-mail.
King said Yale administrators “may be trying to make amends” for any bad feelings created during the primary, as he said he has recently been invited to events on the Yale campus, including the “JEOPARDY!” taping and a speech former President Bill Clinton LAW ’73 last Friday.
“Let bygones be bygones,” King said. “I hope we can have a working relationship.”
Riddick also criticized King’s leadership of the ward’s Democratic committee, which endorsed King during the summer. Riddick said that ward committee meetings have been infrequent and poorly publicized, and she said she had complained to the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee that she was not involved in the process of selecting the ward’s nominee.
The New Haven Democratic Town Committee approved the nominees of the ward committees across the city, meaning that King’s name was listed on the primary ballot as the official party candidate in September.