Vinay Nayak ’14 has become the first candidate to enter the race to replace Michael Jones ’11 as Ward 1 Alderman.
A Davenport freshman from Oak Brook, Ill., Nayak said he will soon file candidacy papers to run for alderman in the election this November. In an interview Tuesday night, Nayak, a registered Democrat and the son of Indian immigrants, said his run for Ward 1 alderman, a position whose constituents are mostly Yale students, is motivated by a desire to be a “champion for New Haven families.”
“My family immigrated here from the working class in India, and I grew up just 20 minutes from the city of Chicago,” Nayak said. “Having that lens has given me a dose of perspective.”
While he said he is interested in learning what the Ward 1 electorate wants in its alderman, Nayak said he believes fundamentally that the interests of Yale and New Haven are intertwined.
“What’s good for New Haven is good for Yale,” Nayak said. “The Ward 1 Alderman ought to be able to represent both the interests of the New Haven community and those of Yale students.”
In high school, Nayak mentored Chicago schoolchildren who had dealt with classes being cancelled for a lack of chalk, or because teachers did not attend, he said. Many of the same issues face New Haven, Nayak said.
Through the Board of Aldermen’s policy assistant program, which assigns undergraduates to aldermanic committees, Nayak has worked under community development chair and Ward 24 Alderman Marcus Paca. Paca commended Nayak’s work for the committee in a press release Tuesday evening.
“Vinay’s energy and commitment to our sustained community and economic development has convinced me that he will remain a vital part of our city for many years to come,” Paca said.
Nayak said his involvement in the program has educated him about the issues facing city residents. As alderman, he said he would focus his efforts around public safety, education and community development.
“Working with the Board of Aldermen, I’ve seen firsthand how important vigorous, responsible economic development is for this city,” Nayak said in the release. “I will be a tireless advocate for fair policies that empower both permanent New Haven residents and Yale students.”
Over the next few months, Nayak said he plans to see what Yale students want in the alderman representing them. The question has been the source of debate recently, with some arguing the Ward 1 Alderman should advocate progressive citywide initiatives and others insisting that he or she focus on the specific interests of Yale students.
While he is a Democrat, Nayak will run as an Independent in the Nov. 8 election, in accordance with the Ward 1 Democratic Committee’s request. Because the Democratic primary is Sept. 13 — leaving only two weeks for candidates to mount campaigns in the fall — the committee has asked Democratic candidates to run as Independents in the general election.
Nayak and his supporters will hold a meet and greet event Thursday at 7 p.m. at Blue State Coffee on Wall Street.