As someone who grew up in New Haven, I would like to take a moment to explain why I have chosen not only to support but also to work on Rebecca Livengood’s campaign for Ward 1 alderman.
I grew up in New Haven and also at Yale (my parents are both tied professionally to the University). The complex relationship Yale has with the larger city has been a focus of my life. I was raised thinking about how, as a person in a privileged position in a city where many were less fortunate, I should contribute to the larger community. I believe that, if I want to truly understand the challenges New Haven faces, I have to reach out to the diverse people of this city.
I honor and believe in the work Dan Weeks has done on campaign finance reform, but I do not believe that issue should define a candidacy for Ward 1 alderman. While I am excited about the potential for election reform in New Haven, I worry that this is neither the central issue for the city nor an issue that has caused Weeks to reach out to the grassroots New Haven community.
Weeks’s connections within the city and state government have been widely touted. The Ward 1 alderman, however, must work not just with the town leadership but with groups throughout New Haven. As a key figure in shaping Yale students’ relationship with New Haven, the Ward 1 alderman must be someone who understands the complex realities of this particular city and who has demonstrated a genuine openness to the views and concerns of the people who live here for more than four years.
Livengood’s extensive work with CORD (Community Organized for Responsible Development) has brought her into the Hill neighborhood to work closely with community members on the very New Haven-specific issues of university expansion and home displacement. This is just one sign of her commitment to people outside of Yale.
I want Livengood’s attitude toward the community to be what citizens of New Haven think of when they think of Yalies.
— Suzanne Kahn ’07
The News wrote that the two candidates for Ward 1 Alderman are virtually identical on the issues and that therefore Dan Weeks’ time in city hall tips the balance in his favor. But this ignores critical aspects of the campaign, which make Rebecca Livengood the strongest possible choice for Ward 1 Alderperson.
The News pointed out that Weeks is a “newcomer” to the issues of his campaign. I’m sure that he believes in these issues despite lacking history with them. But it seems clear that if one candidate has lengthy, impressive experience with the main issues of a campaign and the other has none that the first candidate has more valuable experience for implementing meaningful change if elected.
Additionally, a theme emerged in the Yale Dems’ forum on Monday that illustrated substantive differences between the two candidates. Livengood emphasized a desire to lead Yale students to become more active citizens of New Haven, an admirable goal that could help mend the breach the News lamented between alderperson and student body. Weeks repeatedly downplayed the role of students as “part-time residents.”
This is not a semantic difference, but a philosophical one. We are all members of the New Haven community, and the university we attend is its largest public citizen. We can not slip into isolation from the city around us simply because most of us go elsewhere for the holidays. We live here, and we have opportunities and responsibilities based on that residency. The candidate for the Ward 1 chair who seems willing and eager to lead us to shoulder the responsibilities and make the most of the opportunities offered by New Haven is, without question, Rebecca Livengood.
— Matt Traldi ’06