In a speech Monday night to the Yale College Democrats, New Haven Mayor and gubernatorial candidate John DeStefano Jr. urged Yale students to become involved in his campaign.

The presentation, which took place in the Branford College Common Room, was attended by roughly 150 Yale students. DeStefano spoke about the important roles Elis could play in furthering his campaign’s efforts to unseat incumbent Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell. Along with Mary Glassman, who will run for lieutenant governor on his ticket, DeStefano emphasized the campaign’s commitment to job growth, universal health care, energy reform and educational improvement. Many of the students who attended the talk said they are enthusiastic about the campaign, while others said they wished it contained less rhetoric and more policy discussion.

DeStefano said that, if elected governor, he would promote universal health care by decreasing corporate tax rates for companies that agree to provide health care for their employees. He also emphasized the importance of closing the “achievement gap” in education and improving Connecticut schools in low-performing areas. He said he expects improvements in education to bolster employment opportunities in Connecticut, which currently ranks 49th nationally in job growth.

DeStefano said he considers clusters of businesses, such as the emerging New Haven biotechnology sector, an important aspect of improving job growth.

College Democrats President Brendan Gants ’08 said he thinks Yale students can significantly influence the outcome of the race by becoming involved in DeStefano’s campaign efforts.

“It isn’t just feel-good activism,” he said. “We’re in a close race where students can make a major impact. … The mayor has a smart, progressive plan for the state of Connecticut.”

DeStefano ended his speech on a positive note, expressing optimism about the election and for the Democrats as a whole.

“2006 is going to start something in America that is going to end in the presidential election of 2008,” he said.

After the speech, Laura Marris ’10 said she remained unconvinced by DeStefano’s arguments.

“I don’t feel that he’s that genuine,” she said. “He said some things that didn’t quite register.”

But Asia Mernissi ’10 said she thinks DeStefano was articulate and explained his platform well.

“He did a good job of not only saying what he wants to do but also backing it up,” she said.

The College Democrats will be conducting voter registration drives and phone banking in an effort to increase political participation among Yale students.