The Ward 1 Aldermanic race might be all but decided, but the Ward 22 race is shaping up to be the contest that Yale students will be focusing their energies on this year.
Following Rev. Drew King’s resignation last week as Ward 22 alderman, the city has announced that a special election for the vacant position will be held on April 16, days after the now-cancelled Ward 1 Democratic nomination election was to be held. The filing deadline passed for that race with only one candidate, Rachel Plattus ’09, in the ring. But in the Ward 22 race, two candidates have already stepped forward: Gregory Morehead, a ward resident who said in an interview Monday that he plans to run, and Ward 22 co-Chairwoman Cordelia Thorpe, who also reaffirmed Monday that she plans to file this week.
No students have expressed an interest in running, and according to the rules set forth by the City Clerk, they would need to file by as early as next Monday.
Morehead, 29, is a self-described “entrepreneur” who has already gained the support of several student leaders on campus, including members of the Yale College Democrats and the Yale NAACP. A former drummer for performing artists such as Ludacris — with appearances on David Letterman and Saturday Night Live — Morehead founded an anti-spyware repair business called Adawaredoc in 2005 servicing Connecticut. He now serves as CEO of that company.
He said his mission in running can be summarized simply: “to bring change to the community.”
“I feel that I have new, innovative ideas,” he said. “For the longest time here, a lot of people have been saying one thing, and they can’t back it up with their actions. I don’t want to just listen to two or three people who are powerful in my ward but to listen to all Ward 22 residents.”
Morehead said he would like to create a youth center where teens could go after school in order to stay out of trouble, find role models and learn about opportunities for the future. Married with three children, Morehead said coming from a “God-fearing household” has inspired him to value family above all.
“That’s part of my vision: bringing the respect of God and family values back into the community,” he said, adding that he would like to become a genuine point of communication between the city and Yale students. “I want to be able to have a connection with the community. Not just speaking to them, not just knowing their name, but being able to be open for them. When they have issues or concerns, they can contact me.”
The Yale College Democrats met Monday night to discuss canvassing efforts for Ward 22 students, shifting from its traditional emphasis on Ward 1 voters. Even though the population of Ward 22 — encompassing residents of Morse, Ezra Stiles, Silliman and Timothy Dwight colleges as well as Swing Space — is about 33 percent students, elections in the ward have not historically brought many Yalies to the polls.
“Students are not the majority of Ward 22, but … students who live in Ward 22 should certainly exercise their right to vote, and this is a great opportunity in New Haven in a way that traditionally isn’t done,” Yale College Democrats President Eric Kafka ’08 said. “I don’t think a student should run for Ward 22 alder, but students in Ward 22 should definitely take interest in who is their [alderman].”
Kafka — while not speaking for his organization, which does not endorse candidates in primary races — said he supports Morehead because he wants to see a city government that focuses on providing quality education and safe neighborhoods.
“It’s a message I find compelling,” Kafka said.
The declared candidates are relatively unknown in Ward 22; several ward leaders had not heard of Morehead, and Thorpe only moved into the ward recently. But experience in this case may not be an advantage. Current Ward 22 co-Chair Thorpe has ruffled many feathers during her short time in control of the ward.
At a recent — and rare — meeting of Ward 22 residents, she confronted King and demanded he speak to the ward, but she had not notified him in advance. The meeting then devolved into chaos as King left and those remaining bickered before dispersing.
But Thorpe, a former Yale-New Haven Hospital worker who said she is now in the process of starting a day-care center, still insists that she is the right person to heal wounds in the ward. She cited her experience, which she said consists of living in the ward and serving this term as co-chair.
“I offer experience, dedication, and loyalty,” Thorpe said. “But I think students should meet both candidates before making a decision.”
Thorpe is unlikely to be able to rely on Yale students or political leaders for significant support or counsel. She has said she feels like a trespasser on campus, but Morehead, whose sister-in-law attended Yale, said he has had no similar trouble and has already reached out to several Yale students for support.
Neither candidate commented in any detail on the other. Thorpe said she thinks she “saw [Morehead] once at a meeting,” and Morehead declined to comment on King’s resignation or on Thorpe, saying only that he is “moving forward without looking to the left or to the right or behind.”
King’s resignation followed several arrests this winter in which he was accused of assaulting a woman, who claimed to be his girlfriend, and subsequently violating a protective order.
After resigning, King said he would like Ward 22 co-Chair Shaneane Ragin to win the election, though she is not yet a declared candidate. There is speculation that Ragin will run, but she could not be reached for comment Monday. Mena Cammett ’09, who ran against Thorpe and King for Ward 22 co-chair in 2005, also could not be reached for comment.
Under the rules set forth by the City Clerk, candidates must file by Monday if they wish to run on a party nomination and by Wednesday if they wish to run unaffiliated. The last day to register to vote in the aldermanic race is April 13.