We are proud to support Hugh Baran ’09 and Cynthia Okechukwu ’08 for Ward 1 co-chairs. We appreciate Baran and Okechukwu’s demonstrated belief in progressive values, their continuing energetic pursuit of worthy political and humanitarian causes and their commitment to reforming the Ward 1 Committee to create a more open and democratic process. Most importantly, we have joined in supporting Hugh and Cynthia — who represent a broad range of students and groups — because of our belief that political progress in New Haven depends on combining efforts and building coalitions based on shared goals.

Baran and Okechukwu have both shown their commitment to improving life on campus and throughout the city through their activities at Yale. Okechukwu has served as secretary of the Yale College Democrats, and now serves as their vice president. Through this organization, she has reached out to Yale students and strengthened an organization that gives unity of purpose to a wide range of perspectives on the political left. She has also demonstrated her humanitarian concerns in her work with Habitat for Humanity. This experience will enable her to help students of all political affiliations get involved in the New Haven community. Finally, her service on the Ward 1 Committee demonstrates her commitment to the politics of the city. Okechukwu spoke out in the News about her concerns with the committee process (“Election rules may change,” 1/20), and as someone who has served on the committee but understands its historical shortcomings, she is ideally suited to enact the proposed reforms.

Because he is a freshman, Baran offers a different and valuable perspective in the reform process. Because he was not yet on campus for the committee endorsement, he will be able to approach the process of reform with fresh energy and an open mind. During his time at Yale, Hugh has sought progress on many fronts. He is an active member of Students Taking Action Now: Darfur, a group that works to combat genocide in Sudan. He has worked with a bevy of campus activist groups, and has recently revitalized the Queer Political Action Committee, which he now heads.

Baran and Okechukwu come from different backgrounds, but their strengths complement each other superbly. We are confident that they will fill the co-chair positions admirably.

We have chosen to endorse them together because we understand that collaboration and initiative are the keys to affecting real change in New Haven. We recognize that we have many values in common and both believe strongly that the students of Ward 1 can play a vibrant role in moving the city in a positive direction. We look forward to working with each other, the co-chairs and students from all over the campus and the political spectrum to develop ideas and promote pressing issues. We have faith that Baran and Okechukwu will take the lead on economic growth, greater political participation, environmental responsibility and gay rights. We know that Baran and Okechukwu share these goals, and we are confident in their ability to help realize them.

Rebecca Livengood is a junior in Saybrook College. She served as Ward 1 Alderwoman. Nick Shalek ’05 is the Ward 1 Alderman.