Minh Tran ’09 announced that he will run for the Ward 1 seat on the Board of Aldermen.

Tran, a psychology major and Morse College freshman counselor, officially announced his candidacy at a campaign kickoff event Sunday afternoon in Linsly-Chittenden Hall. If elected, Tran said in his speech that he will focus on education, transportation safety and small business initiatives.

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“I believe that Yale students have a strong desire to connect with their neighbors, they just need a link,” Tran said. “And I can be that link.”

Tran, a Dwight Hall public school intern and founder of the Yale Inter-Religious Leadership Council, was born in Vietnam and has lived in Los Angeles since he was 10 years old. In addition to dancing for the Konjo! African dance troupe, Tran has served a variety of roles on a smattering of Yale commissions, including the Freshman and Sophomore class councils, the Morse College Council and the Yale College Dean Search Committee.

He is the third candidate — and the first upperclassman — to enter the 2009 Ward 1 aldermanic race; Mike Jones ’11 became the first official candidate last month, and Katie Harrison ’11 announced her candidacy last Wednesday.

Before outlining his platform, Tran was introduced by his campaign team, Yale students and the parents of one of the students he teaches at the Worthington Hooker School. In front of an audience of almost 100 people — including Yale politicos, New Haven residents and Morse freshmen — Tran expressed his delight at receiving the support of his fellow students.

“I feel like I was being introduced as a bachelor at a game show!” Tran said to the crowd.

If he is elected, Tran said, he will create an advisory board of students who will discuss solutions to problems plaguing the city. He said he also hopes to convince city officials to hire a point-person that would encourage potential entrepreneurs to start up small businesses.

Additionally, he said, he hopes to find the funding to save city initiatives currently at risk because of budget cutbacks, such as the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade and the International Festival of Arts and Ideas. He also plans to host a miscellany of events across the city, including weekly dinner events with his constituents in Yale dining halls, neighborhood trash clean-ups and “dance parties” on the New Haven Green.

“New Haven isn’t New York or Boston, sure. But it is an excitingly vibrant city,” Tran said.

Tran said he has been “running on pure adrenaline” since deciding to run for the Board of Aldermen one week ago, scrambling to obtain the requisite filing forms. So far, Tran said he has a campaign staff of more than a dozen, including co-campaign managers James Berry ’12 and Scott Nelson ’10, and policy director Daniel Silk ’11.

Nelson said he was “optimistic” about the campaign, though he admitted that Tran’s late entrance into the race may provide a real challenge.

“We are the third entrant to this race so there is a perception that the groundwork has already been laid,” Nelson said. “If this race becomes highly political, heavily funded and simply focuses on policy, it may work out against Minh because we really need to wait for his enthusiasm and dedication to come through.”

Though the audience that filled the room for Tran’s campaign kickoff was an admittedly biased one — many of the students were Morsels — students said they found Tran’s speech impressive.

“I just came out of Morse loyalties,” Charlotte Thun-Hohenstein ’12 said, “but now I’m really impressed.”

While Tran’s decision to run for the aldermanic seat was a recent one, he decided at the end of his junior year that he would live in New Haven for several years after graduating from Yale College; he will be working in a local school through Teach for America.

With regards to his two opponents — Jones and Harrison — Tran said he believes he has more experience with New Haven because he has spent more time in New Haven, having worked in the city during all three summers of his undergraduate career. But above all, Tran said, he is excited for a spirited and positive campaign that will encourage the exchange of ideas.

“More than anything, I think that all this competition will give more gravity to this position,” Tran said.

The Ward 1 Democratic Endorsement Vote will occur April 17; to be on the ballot, potential candidates must file with the Ward 1 Democratic Committee by Feb. 27.

Carmen Lu and Colin Ross contributed reporting.