For the past two months, I have had a unique opportunity to listen to fellow students and debate publicly the important issues of our city, as a candidate for the Democratic endorsement for alderman in Ward 1. As a student deeply committed to political change and a firm believer in the potential of young citizens to help form and advance the political debate, I am honored to have had such an opportunity and am deeply grateful to the many students who have come forward through this campaign. Sadly, I cannot continue the campaign in the Democratic primary ahead.
Giving up this race is difficult. What I am giving up, with great regret, is the opportunity to carry on a vigorous debate and mobilization drive that concerns this entire campus — a debate that has thus far taken place within a small circle of committed activists through the Democratic endorsement process. Giving up this race means accepting as final the vote of that committed core of Ward 1 voters that comprises the ward committee, voters who, I believe, did not fully represent the diversity of this community. These trade-offs are not easy but I accept them. I accept them because I believe, after much earnest consideration, that more good can come from this decision than from the choice for me to run.
My rationale is simple, if unsatisfactory to some. My principle aim throughout the recent campaign has been to mobilize fellow students and concerned citizens around issues of great importance to this ward and this city. I believe that I can best carry on this work by, well, getting down to business today; by forgoing what would inevitably become a divisive and unsatisfying debate during the few weeks allotted for a primary campaign and committing my time to the issues before us. This I intend to do by working with my former opponent, Rebecca Livengood, to advance the various issues — and there are many — on which we, as candidate and citizen, agree.
First, I look forward to joining with Rebecca, Ben Healey, and the team of committed activists who have joined me in this campaign to advance meaningful revisions to our city’s living wage. I believe that this issue, a keystone of my candidacy for Ward 1, has the potential to serve hundreds of New Haven citizens at or near poverty who are employed by city contractors and major recipients of city subsidies. By ensuring that our public dollars are invested only in employers who meet the basic needs in wages and benefits of their employees, I believe that we can help foster an environment for all of New Haven in which no person working full-time is living in poverty. These issues are clearly addressed in a recent report by the Committee on Economics of the Roosevelt Institution at Yale.
Second, I am committed to continuing with Rebecca my long-standing work with various alders and City Hall on reforming election financing for New Haven mayoral campaigns, an issue of basic political equality for the citizens of our city. By gaining legislative authority from the Connecticut General Assembly, we can bring back to City Hall the important debate about the role of private money in our public elections, and put forward a proposal for a more democratic alternative to the present special interest-dominated debate. I am committed to further mobilizing fellow students and community organizations around the New Haven Democracy Fund, providing voluntary public financing of our city’s mayoral elections and ensuring that ideas come before dollars in the race for public office. Such a system, I believe, will bring greater accountability in public office and ensure that no citizen is barred from meaningful participation for lack of financial means.
Third, I look forward to contributing as best I can to the many other worthy initiatives already underway, including joining Rebecca and other students to fight for same-sex civil unions in the General Assembly in Hartford; working with Our Education to win a legislative mandate for broader student representation on boards of education in our city; and supporting the worthy efforts of numerous state non-profits to combat homelessness with expanded affordable housing.
Finally, in order to ensure that future nominations for alderman in Ward 1 encompass the broadest possible degree of student input, I am excited to announce a joint effort with Rebecca and any other interested Democrats in Ward 1 to reform the process. Specifically, we are committed to promoting a nomination procedure whereby all registered Democrats in Ward 1 who wish to cast ballots may do so during the nomination, so that all interested students are duly included in the public debate.
I am deeply grateful to the many students who have taken part in this process to date, and look forward to carrying on the progressive work that is and has been the core of this recent campaign. And I am confident that Rebecca, whose candidacy I fully support, will continue her leadership with students in Ward 1 in the months and years ahead.
Dan Weeks is a junior in Berkeley College.