The Ward 1 Democratic Committee’s final vote to endorse an aldermanic candidate is still a month away, but with students leaving campus soon for spring break, the candidates are already working on putting their platforms forward.
Rebecca Livengood ’07 and Dan Weeks ’06, currently the only declared candidates for the endorsement, both said they have been meeting individually with a number of committee members to present their ideas and seek input.
Current Ward 1 Alderman Ben Healey ’04, who first went through the endorsement process four years ago, said such one-on-one meetings with members will be a key factor in determining who wins the committee’s endorsement on March 23.
“What the candidates should do at this stage of the game is to demonstrate their values and experience to the ward members and try to articulate a positive vision for progressive Democrats in the city,” he said. “I think it’s very much about making personal connections.”
Livengood said she has talked to roughly 30 members of the committee so far and will continue reaching out to other members in the days leading up to the final vote. Weeks said he has contacted each member of the committee to ask for an individual meeting over coffee or a meal.
“One of the benefits of this process is that with a small number of electors you can get to know them all,” Weeks said. “It’s a chance not just to give my pitch, but to get some of their ideas on the issues they’re most interested in.”
Livengood also said she has benefited from the meetings, in particular learning more about issues by talking to people who are involved in specific political areas, like education.
“Every time I talk to someone, I have a clearer sense of why I’m running and what the best way is to effect change,” she said.
Committee member Kevin Abels ’05, who has already met with both candidates, said he has benefited from seeing which candidate has a better grasp of city political issues.
“With both of them it’s been an exchange in terms of them telling me what their vision is and what their key issues are and me talking a bit about myself and what’s important to me in terms of New Haven politics,” he said. “I still am waiting to hear their final speeches during the endorsement meeting after spring break, but I am moving towards a decision.”
Abraham Koogler ’06, a committee member who has not yet met with either candidate, said he is looking for two things to help him make a decision — what Livengood and Weeks plan to do to more fully integrate Yale with its community and how each candidate has been politically involved, both at the University and in New Haven.
“I think the experience of the two candidates says a lot about their differences and what they would do during their tenure,” Koogler said.
Livengood and Weeks both said they have similar positions on most of the issues confronting the city and therefore would likely cast the same votes on many resolutions. For this reason, both agreed their experience would be the differentiating factor between them.
Livengood, who has worked on labor and environmental issues through organizations like the Undergraduate Organizing Committee and Community Organized for Responsible Development, said her political organizing experience sets her apart. Weeks, who has worked closely with city leaders on clean-elections legislation, said his lobbying work has enabled him to build a useful foundation at City Hall.
According to Healey, in light of the candidates’ similar political visions, the committee should strive to choose a candidate who will be a strong representative on the Board of Aldermen, building relationships with fellow leaders and pushing issues forward.
“It’s politics — [it’s about] who can connect and communicate a vision and demonstrate that they want to be a leader,” he said.
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