Ward 1’s Democrats are getting ready to embark on the nomination process for a new aldermanic candidate.
By Friday, all 50 members of the freshly-assembled Ward 1 Democratic Committee will have been confirmed, preparing to consider replacements for current Ward 1 Alderman Ben Healey ’04, who will not seek reelection. The group — which represents Old Campus and eight residential colleges — will convene for the first time Sunday at 3 p.m. in the Dwight Hall Library, in a meeting open to the public.
In a ward that has traditionally voted heavily Democratic, the party’s nomination will play an important role in the final aldermanic election.
The committee will begin work quickly with the aim of holding a final aldermanic nominee endorsement meeting March 23, Ward 1 Committee co-chair Amia Srinivasan ’07 said. Before voting for a nominee, committee members will hear candidates speak for five to 15 minutes and will have the opportunity to ask questions.
Committee members, who have been selected through an application process designed to gather a diverse group of Democrats affiliated with a number of campus organizations, will be briefed on the process for the aldermanic nomination in addition to the committee’s role in New Haven politics.
“The first thing is what the committee does every year, which is act as a group that can talk about important progressive issues in New Haven and then talk to Ben Healey and then work towards improving them,” Srinivasan said. “The second role is the role we’ll really be focusing on, going through the process of endorsing an aldermanic candidate for the Democratic Party.”
Healey will address the committee Sunday, discussing the basics of New Haven’s political structure and the role aldermen play.
“I think it’s just important that going into this process it’s open and public and anyone who’s interested in pursuing the nomination has the ability to do so,” Healey said. “I think it’s important … that everything is done in public and out in the open so that between now and mid-March or whenever the endorsement happens everyone has the opportunity to sort of feel comfortable with the process and cast an informed vote for a nominee.”
Committee member Cynthia Okechukwu ’08 said she is looking for an aldermanic candidate who is dedicated to keeping in touch with students and representing their interests.
“I think that what Ben Healey’s done really well is that he seems really connected to the student body,” she said. “I’d like someone who’s willing to take that time to not only do their job with the other aldermen but also talk to students and be there for them.”
As the Democrats prepare for a competitive nominating process, campus Republicans have not yet formally organized to back a potential candidate. The Yale College Republicans are open to serious candidates, YCR President Al Jiwa ’06 said.
“It’s been talked about in group meetings and meetings with individuals,” he said. “Right now, I guess the focus of the organization is somewhat geared toward national issues. But if someone wanted our support, all they would have to do is call me.”
Jiwa acknowledged that a Republican running in Ward 1 would likely be a long shot.
“Anyone who knows anything about New Haven politics knows it’s very liberal,” he said. “The only Republican who would have a shot would be a very moderate Republican. But at this point I would say the chances are very, very slim.”
In order to obtain a committee that accurately represented the Democratic Party’s diverse presence on campus, an e-mail was sent out to all Democrats registered in the ward several months ago. In selecting members, the committee co-chairs tried to balance students from different class years and groups like the cultural houses and political organizations.
“I think that everyone who was really interested to get on the committee had the opportunity,” Srinivasan said. “The most important thing is that the people who are going to be on the committee are committed.”