The Ward 1 Democratic Committee will endorse a candidate in next year’s aldermanic election by a closed committee ballot.
Of eight members present at the committee’s meeting Sunday, four voted to hold a closed committee endorsement vote, in which only members of the committee may vote as opposed to all Ward 1 Democrats, who would participate in an open endorsement vote. Three voted to not endorse any candidate and only one voted to conduct an open endorsement vote in the spring. Ward 1 is inhabited almost exclusively by Yale students. Committee co-chairs Mac Herring ’12 and Amalia Skilton ’13 said they hope the closed committee process will encourage more candidates to consider running and will allow the endorsed Democrat more time to prepare for a potentially contested general election to decide the next Ward 1 alderman in November.
“It’s likely that it will seem less daunting,” Herring said, because instead of having to run a campus-wide campaign, candidates will only face the Ward 1 committee members.
The committee will meet on Dec. 5 to vote on its endorsement calendar, which calls for the committee to endorse a candidate on April 15, 2011.
If the calendar is approved, the filing period for candidates will open March 20 and end March 25, followed by a candidate forum on March 28.
Ben Stango ’11, president of the Yale College Democrats, said he is disappointed that the committee decided against holding an open endorsement vote and wishes the committee had involved more Ward 1 Democrats in the decision. The closed committee vote, he said, would likely not be representative of all Ward 1 Democrats.
“I don’t like that this ward committee, which is a small segment of the Yale population, will be making this decision by itself,” Stango said. “It ignores the fact that there are many Democrats who care who their alderman is but will not be able to participate in the committee.”
But Skilton said she and Herring are determined to boost the committee’s membership, which is capped at 50. Currently, only 19 seats are filled.
“We want the committee to be an accurate representation of people in the ward — not just people who think of themselves as ‘politicos,’ but all Democrats registered in Ward 1,” Skilton said.
Skilton said she and Herring are actively recruiting new members, encouraging current members to reach out to other potential members, and planning to send an e-mail in the spring to all registered Democrats in the ward to invite them to join he committee.
Skilton added that the candidate endorsed by the committee will still have to win a primary in September in order to run as the Democrat in the November general election. The fact that the primary will be held in September will enfranchise next year’s incoming freshmen, who would not be able to participate in an open endorsement vote, which would be held in the spring before they arrive at Yale, Skilton said.
“In April 2009, a quarter of the people who voted were graduating seniors,” Skilton said. “But I, like all of the class of 2013, was not able to vote in that election.”
Stango said he believes such considerations are inappropriate, adding that the committee “shouldn’t weigh whose vote matters more based on their year.”
Herring said the closed committee vote will bring the endorsement process in Ward 1 in line with the process used by the majority of other ward committees in the city.
Ward 1 includes Old Campus and Branford, Saybrook, Trumbull, Calhoun, Berkeley, Davenport, and Pierson colleges.