To the Editor:

The upcoming aldermanic race between Democrat Rebecca Livengood and Independent Nick Shalek for Ward 1 seems steeped in complexity. Ward 1 voters must confront the University’s labored history with its workers and affiliate hospital. They must remember New Haven’s need for increased economic opportunity. And they must choose between two self-proclaimed liberals who carry the baggage of preconceived notions about the UOC, Yale varsity athletes, aldermanic appointment proceedings and exorbitant campaign spending.

And then there are all of the articles, the rumors and the bladderball e-mail blitzes.

I attended last night’s Ward 1 debate with the intention of hearing each candidate’s voice. My assumptions, however, ran wild. Would Livengood be the fringe, pinko-progressive beholden to no one but GESO and Marx’s Manifesto? Would Shalek be the law-breaking money monger with lips puckered up to the University’s agenda?

Last night’s debate erased these suspicions — neither was either. Moreover, the candidates’ words erased the complexity of the choice between them.

While Livengood offered a series of results-oriented proposals on a host of New Haven’s most pressing issues, Shalek fell back on declarations of support for the cancer center. While Livengood discussed closing loopholes in the living wage ordinance, expanding the facade program for commercial storefronts and eliminating redundant emergency response spending, Shalek resorted to proclamations on his “good perspective on economics.” I want an alderman who speaks with nuance. I want an alderman who has a developed understanding of the city through her academic, extracurricular and professional experience. I want an alderman who has demonstrated her commitment to listening to all of the constituencies within the ward and greater city: business, student and employee alike. Rebecca Livengood has a deliberate, thoughtful plan — with a “good perspective on economics,” to boot.

I don’t think the issues within this campaign are simple. I have come to learn about them with awe and humility as a student, a child care worker, a health clinic volunteer, and an executive co-coordinator of Dwight Hall at Yale. The issues within this election aren’t simple at all, and we need someone who will address them with vigor and forethought. I trust Livengood to do this — she is the simple choice because she doesn’t dismiss our city’s strengths and weaknesses as simple.

Benjamin Staub ’06