New Haven’s Democratic Party shifted further toward labor interests over the break.
Union victories last Tuesday in six of the seven contested races for seats on the Democratic Town Committee continued a trend of organized labor’s growing political clout that began with last fall’s aldermanic elections. At the first meeting of the committee Wednesday night, members handed Ward 3 Alderwoman Jackie James an easy victory in her bid to chair the committee, which consists of two ward committee co-chairs from each of the city’s 30 wards, effectively placing her at the helm of the city’s political machine.
James, who won re-election as alderwoman in the fall with the help of Yale’s politically active labor unions, UNITE HERE Locals 34 and 35, beat out Wooster Square activist Chris Randall and former alderwoman Esther Armmand by a commanding margin, receiving 48 votes to Randall’s five and Armmand’s four. James also serves as president pro tempore of the Board of Aldermen.
Last week’s ward committee co-chair elections resulted in a Democratic Town Committee in which more than half of its 60 members are newcomers to the organization. This includes Ward 1’s Ben Crosby ’13 and Nia Holston ’14, who ran unopposed, and Ward 22’s Josef Goodman ’14 and Jayuan Carter, a lab assistant at the Yale School of Medicine, who defeated Gina Phillips and former aldermanic candidate Cordelia Thorpe.
James and the other newly elected officials pledged to revitalize the Democratic Party in New Haven by bringing new faces and young people into politics. They also pledged that the Democratic Town Committee, which has typically thrown its support behind Mayor John DeStefano Jr.’s re-election campaigns, will maintain independence from City Hall and the city’s old political establishment.