Embattled Ward 22 Alderman Rev. Drew King, who was arrested multiple times in recent months on charges including assault and violating a protective order, resigned Thursday afternoon in the face of community pressure and after what he said were exhausting months of tribulation.
“I know that every man and every woman face challenges in their lives, but that these difficult times pass,” he wrote in a letter to Board of Aldermen President Carl Goldfield. “And they will for me, with God’s grace, let there be no doubt. I will get through these troubled times with the love from my family and friends.”
Although King, 55, said in an interview that he is innocent of the allegations against him, he has acknowledged that he may have a substance abuse problem. Especially after checking in to a rehabilitation center last month, King said, he realized he did not have enough time or energy to remain on the Board.
“You just get to the point where you just get tired, and I’m at that point,” King said. “I tried to do my very best to be a blessing to my community, to be a blessing to New Haven as a city … I just hope people have forgiving hearts, and they can go on and live their life in harmony.”
King’s initial arrest followed a dispute with Kia Williams, 24 who said she was his girlfriend. Williams claims King, 55, hit her during a dispute over a hot dog several days after Christmas.
King, who was chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said he recently met with New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr., who he said “opened” his eyes and helped him realize that he did not want to hinder the Board of Aldermen’s progress or the city’s image.
“He was a blessing for me,” King said.
King is the second alderman in the 2005-’07 term to resign after facing legal trouble. In September, Ward 28 Alderwoman Barbara Rawls-Ivy resigned after pleading guilty to embezzling nearly $50,000 in federal funds.
In a written statement, DeStefano said the city needed “fresh, new energy and new ideas to get past this resignation,” even though some of his colleagues on the Board of Aldermen may “miss” King.
“The city, the board and the Dixwell community now look to move forward from these troubles the past couple of months and focus on a positive agenda,” said DeStefano, who recently ushered in a program of ethics reform in city government.
Board of Aldermen President Carl Goldfield said finding a solution to King’s scandals has been a priority for some time.
“It‘s something that we’ve been working on, and working through, to come to a good resolution,” Goldfield said. “Drew has resigned with dignity, which I think he is allowed to do.”
Goldfield was criticized by some in the initial days after King’s arrest for not immediately calling for his resignation, instead arguing that the justice system should first determine whether King was guilty. While most aldermen seemed to agree with Goldfield, many representatives chose not to clap when King apologized to the aldermen after the mayor’s State of the City address last month.
The exact circumstances surrounding the incident that led to King’s arrest remain unclear. Interviews conducted last month with residents and neighbors of the house at which the incident allegedly took place — which King owns — suggest that he may not be guilty of the charges he originally faced.
A local policeman, Lt. Ray Hassett, described residents of the house, which King said he was trying to turn into a sober house, as a “difficult population.” During interviews, witnesses to the alleged attack contradicted themselves multiple times, claiming that no alcohol had been in the house recently despite several empty bottles of rum scattered across the porch and lawn. While some neighbors accused the house’s residents of using drugs, Terry Bari, a resident of the house who confirmed the allegations against King, said she had always been drug-free.
“Drew got what he deserved, and he needs to lose everything for the shit he’s been doing to people,” Bari said.
King said Thursday that residents of the house had been “lying.”
“It’s hard to satisfy an angry person,” King said. “Anytime that a person gets angry, the only thing that will be able to satisfy that person is the same thing they did to Jesus.”
Charges are all still pending against King, and no trial has taken place. But it is undisputable that he violated the protective order, which barred him from contact with Williams, multiple times.
A special run-off election will be held in early April to fill the vacant seat. The winner will represent a significant number of Yale students, including those students who live in Ezra Stiles, Morse, Pierson and Davenport colleges, as well as Swing Space.
The only declared candidate so far is Ward 22 co-chair Cordelia Thorpe, who had not heard about King’s resignation when called by a News reporter Thursday evening. She immediately called news of the resignation “too bad,” and then declared that she would run in the upcoming election.
“Drew King fell to human weakness, which a lot of role models are unfortunately succumbing to, and it’s a tragedy,” she said.
Thorpe said she thinks she would be the best person to heal the ward.
“I care about my constituents, I try to meet with them, I talk to them and I help them,” she said. “I have a background in helping and working with people, and I understand the basic needs of the people in this ward, from the richest to the poorest.”
But if history repeats itself, Thorpe may have difficulty reaching Yale students over the next month. She said that, as was the case in the 2005 election, she is having difficulty convincing residential college masters to allow her on campus.
King said his mind is already more or less made up: he hopes that Shaneane Ragin, who served as Ward 22 co-chair in 2004 with Alyssa Rosenberg ’07, will run and win. There has also been speculation that Ward 1 Alderman Nick Shalek ’05 might choose to run in Ward 22. But Shalek declined to comment recently on such a possibility, and he could not be reached for comment Thursday night.