Former aldermanic candidate Dan Weeks ’06 has decided not to challenge Rebecca Livengood ’07, who won the Ward 1 Democratic Committee’s endorsement last month, to a Democratic primary race.
Weeks will formally announce his support for Livengood at a press conference today at noon in front of Dwight Hall. He will appear alongside Livengood and supporters on the Board of Aldermen as well as representatives from Mayor John DeStefano Jr.’s office.
Over the weekend, Weeks sent a press release to the News announcing he would challenge Livengood to a primary race. He later formally retracted the release. Weeks said he changed his mind about running after further reflection about how he could best allocate his time to achieve his political goals.
Specifically, he said he will now focus on addressing some of the issues that emerged during the Ward 1 Democratic Committee endorsement process. In particular, he will push for living wage legislation in the city, in addition to continuing his campaign for public elections funding and lobbying in favor of a bill that would allow civil unions for same-sex couples in Connecticut. He and Livengood also said they plan to examine ways to reform the procedure for endorsing Democratic candidates for alderman in Ward 1 in order to incorporate more of the ward’s registered Democrats in the process.
“My hope has been to see a competitive primary and a competitive general election, because I do genuinely believe that competitive elections are ultimately good for the city, even if they can have the effect of dividing activists temporarily,” he said. “That said, in considering very carefully the possibility of such a campaign and also the ways in which I can best devote my time to these larger causes, I have come to the conclusion that my time is best spent not in a divided camp, but rather going directly to these issues.”
Weeks and Livengood said they will work together in the coming weeks to register voters in the ward.
In addition, they plan to work with the current Ward 1 Democratic Committee chairs to draft guidelines that would open up the Ward 1 Democratic aldermanic endorsement process to include more registered voters, possibly in the form of a caucus.
“The committee process has raised concerns in my mind about the degree of participation from students,” Weeks said. “I think we can do better than we did in this process.”
Livengood said she believes an uncontested primary race could benefit the Democratic Party in Ward 1.
“I think that this is great for party unity,” she said. “I look forward to having more conversations with people and spreading out across the political map.”
Weeks supporter Jeremy Ershow ’06 — who has criticized the Ward 1 Democratic endorsement process, in which an appointed committee chooses a candidate to support, as being insufficiently democratic — said there are two different ways to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of a primary race.
“There are those for whom what is good for the party means the party doesn’t have to go through a division, the inherent division that comes along with a primary,” he said. “There are those who think that the Democratic Party especially should be home of a liberal democratic process. The way this has all gone down has certainly been a blow to that ideal.”
Ted Fertik ’08, who served as Weeks’ campaign manager, said he was not disappointed in Weeks’ decision, because instead of running for alderman, he and his supporters will be able to work directly to lobby for the policies they support.
“I think that having the race that he did and talking to the people he did really elevated the level of debate that took place, and I think that there was an informed and relevant discussion about issues and about legitimate differences,” he said. “Part of me would have liked to continue that discussion. But running a campaign is not nearly the only way to work on a lot of the issues we care about.”
Livengood said she would welcome a challenger in the general election as an opportunity for the Democratic Party to rally behind its candidate.
“I sort of expect a challenger in the general election, and that will be a good opportunity to get people involved in a campaign,” she said. “I think that a general challenge is a great way to bolster the strength of the Democratic Party in Ward 1.”