To the Editor:

I’m excited. Tonight, the Ward 1 Democratic Committee will endorse a great candidate to succeed me as New Haven’s first ward alderman. Whether Rebecca Livengood or Daniel Weeks wins that endorsement, I am confident that our candidate will have emerged from a fair and open process and be prepared to engage in a smart, issue-based campaign in this fall’s elections. As we all know, the committee’s endorsement does not represent the end of the democratic process for my seat on the Board of Aldermen. What it will represent is the thoughtful nomination of a diverse group of students with an exceptional commitment to this community and a tremendous level of experience working for change in New Haven and at Yale. Having collaborated with most of the members of the committee on a range of challenges facing this city — including securing economic justice, fostering responsible development, furthering civil rights and promoting environmental responsibility — I have great confidence in the insights they bring to the process. Indeed, several of them agreed to serve on the committee at my personal request.

Having said that, this committee is as independent-minded and as deliberative as was the one four years ago by which I had the honor to be endorsed, as a freshman, over two older candidates with much more time to build relationships with committee members. In those four years, the process has been further improved by reforms like the introduction of an application survey sent to every registered Ward 1 Democrat. So let us not cast stones at the committee members: They are honorable participants who are giving great amounts of time and energy to contribute to the civic life of our city. If those with ideas for how to further improve the endorsement process wish to offer them, then let us engage in constructive dialogue over how to make that happen over the next few months. But in the meantime, I hope that instead of focusing on spurious and anonymous assaults on the judgment of committee members, we can all embrace a careful consideration of the two candidates’ visions for this ward and this city. We owe it not only to them, but to ourselves as well.

Ben Healey ’04

March 21, 2005

The writer is the Ward 1 alderman.

To the Editor:

As the former political and communications directors of Project Orange, we have been surprised to see Rebecca Livengood’s emphasis on her work on gay rights and with Project Orange. In three years of involvement, neither of us can remember any major activity Livengood took either on gay rights or with Project Orange. It is entirely possible that Rebecca attended a few of the large events, but we find her suggestions to deep involvement baseless. She has clearly demonstrated that she does not lack passion about unionization or community development, but to cite gay rights experience so prominently and repeatedly is not credible.

While gay rights is certainly not Dan Weeks’ central focus either, he has gone door-to-door canvassing for state Rep. Toni Walker, who sponsored the current civil unions bill in the Connecticut legislature and advocates for equal marriage. Dan recognizes that the key win for gay rights must occur at the state level, not the municipal level, and he has taken the right steps to make it happen.

We certainly have our own biases about tonight’s vote, but it is important to be clear about the qualifications each candidate brings to the table.

Beth France ’06

Whitney Haring-Smith ’07

March 22, 2005

To the Editor:

I was very surprised to see the suggestion in these pages (“Ward 1 committee’s link to candidate questioned,” 3/4) that Rebecca Livengood has benefited from a lack of representation of the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project (YHHAP) on the Ward 1 Committee.

As a co-coordinator of YHHAP, I can vouch for Livengood’s dedication toward the alleviation of hunger and homelessness in our city. Livengood is an active member of Respect Line, a political advocacy group composed of the homeless, students and concerned citizens. In this role, she has actively contributed to the organization’s plans to secure necessary changes in New Haven’s policies toward the homeless. In addition, Livengood will serve as one of YHHAP’s summer interns this year. For 10 weeks, she will be one of two students responsible for the operation of Harmony Place, a community center run cooperatively by the homeless, students and community volunteers.

I strongly doubt any free-thinking member of the committee will vote for either candidate at the drop of a hat solely because of the candidate’s involvement with one organization. Rather, members will draw upon their own experiences with community activism to endorse the candidate they feel will best serve our city.

David Tian ’07

March 13, 2005

To the Editor:

As a member of the Ward 1 Democratic Committee, I am concerned with Weeks campaigner Amaris Singer’s use of liberal as a dirty word. After the November elections, Democrats need to band together and talk about our core progressive values, not throw around the ‘l’ word.

Livengood’s priorities (homelessness, Yale-New Haven relations, the environment and gay rights) are Democratic through and through. Her range of experiences (including dialogue with Yale administrators on a fair share contribution, talking with Hill neighborhood residents about responsible development, rallying on Cross Campus for financial aid reform, and lobbying for cleaner air in Hartford) is a major strength of her candidacy. If Weeks believes that any of these issues or experiences are “outrageously liberal,” I hope that he would make clear his more conservative views before we on the Ward 1 committee make our very important decision.

Kevin Abels ’05

March 21, 2005