With a week left before polls open, both candidates for Ward 1 alderman are emphasizing their differences.
Although they are running on platforms that have been criticized as similar, both Vinay Nayak ’14 and Sarah Eidelson ’12 have recently highlighted differences in what they would do with two years as the Ward 1 representative. But some of the largest differences between the two are not in policy matters but instead are in how they have chosen to run their campaigns.
Nayak, who spent his freshman year working as a policy assistant forthe Board of Aldermen’s community development committee, said his campaign is more policy-focused than Eidelson’s, adding that he has spent “probably double the time” studying policy through conversations with city leaders as he has campaigning.
“My thing is policy,” Nayak said. “I want to see actual changes in two years.”
One of Nayak’s major policy proposals is to strengthen the city’s “Ban the Box” ordinance — a law that expunges a question of prior criminal convictions from employment forms — which the Board passedin 2009. While Eidelson has accused Nayak of trying to pass legislation that has already been instituted at the federal level, Nayak said hisversion of Ban the Boxwould expandthe measure to include privatesector employers through stronger incentives that the Board could control.
By contrast with his plans, he said,Eidelson’s policies are vague.
Eidelson, though, said she has specific policy goals, including pushing for stronger community policing and utilizing Route 34 development to stimulate local job creation and provide students with a better downtown.
One of the issues that showcases the different approaches taken by each candidate towards Yale’s relationship with its host city involves the controversy over High and Wall Streets, which were closedto vehicular traffic in 1990 following a deal reached bythe University and the city. Under the 20-year agreement, the renewal of which depended on a traffic review, Yale made a one-time payment to the city and agreed to make annual voluntary donations in exchange for access rights to the streets. Union leaders and some aldermen have argued that the terms of the agreement made it a lease, not a sale, and thatYale should pay the city for the continued use of the streets, a claim flatly rejected by University officials.
Zak Newman ’13, Nayak’s campaign manager, said Nayakstands bythe University on this issue, whilesome of Eidelson’s supporters, including two of the three future aldermen who have endorsed her, are in favor of Yale paying more for continued closure of the two streets. Eidelson, however, said she does not see her supporters’ views affectingher position as a potential alderwoman.
“The street should remain closed,” Eidelson said. “It was suggested that I would see this as an opportunity to get more money from Yale, and that’s not true at all.”
She added that her views have been mischaracterized and that all she supports is the Board’s decision to hire an independent legal counsel to investigate the 1990 contract.
Another difference between the candidates has been their approaches to fundraising. The majority of Nayak’scontributions came from his home state of Illinois and tended to be larger than those to Eidelson’s campaign. He said that although he has out-fundraised Eidelson by more than double, this has had little bearing on his campaign as Eidelson has thus far spent more during the course of the campaign.
Campaign finance reports show that Eidelson spent $1,785.19 between Aug. 18 and Sept. 30, whereas Nayak spent $1,108.90 between Aug. 10 and Oct. 10.
Newman said that although Nayak received the majority of his funds from out-of-state, his campaign actually received three donations from students living in Ward 1 that were reported as out-of-state on the finance reports because of the donors’ hometowns.
Newman and Nayak said a more accurate pictureof each campaign can be derivedfrom the composition of workers for each candidate. Nayak’s campaign, Newman said, is staffed entirely by current undergraduates, most of whom have never been involved in politics before, which Newman said stands in contrast to Eidelson’s campaign.
“I would not question [Sarah’s] campaign as being New Haven-based, but I don’t think it’s student-based,” Newman said. “You look at the kind of people running her campaign, you look at the kind of references to what she’d do if she were on the board, and I don’t think it’s necessarily focused on students.”
Eidelson, though, dismissed Newman’s characterization, and said that her campaign has been run by more than 50 student workers, long-term city residents, New Haven high school students, community leaders and future aldermen. The mixof students and nonstudents shows the relative strength of her candidacy.
“It’s really indicative of the type of alderperson that I’m going to be that I’ve been able to connect with New Haven residents already,” Eidelson said.
Ward 1 is comprised of Old Campus and all residential colleges other than Ezra Stiles, Morse, Silliman and Timothy Dwight.
The election will take place on Nov. 8.