Mayoral candidates Ward 10 Alderman Justin Elicker FES ’10 SOM ’10 and State Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield are beginning to engage Yale students in their campaigns.

At a public kick-off event, Elicker met with a group of about 15 undergraduates last Saturday on Yale’s campus to introduce himself, explain his platform and answer questions from potential volunteers. He outlined education, public safety and economic development as the three main policy issues New Haven needs to address. Holder-Winfield held a similar campus event on Feb. 18.

“A lot of what we’ve historically done in the city has been behind closed doors,” Elicker said to the group. “I believe particularly with the tools we have today, we should incorporate the public in conversation and having a lot more inclusion and openness as government.”

Within his education platform, Elicker said his three primary goals are to increase accountability through instituting a hybrid Board of Education as opposed to a Board fully appointed by the mayor, improve early childhood education and initiate character development curriculum in public schools. With regards to public safety, he praised community policing policies and suggested increased collaboration with existing city organizations to find jobs and opportunities for youth, keeping the younger generation out of crime.

Finally, Elicker discussed economic development and long-term fiscal responsibility for New Haven. He explained his plan to give residents more control over how money is spent through a process called “participatory budgeting,” in which city officials will work with neighborhoods’ residents in an interactive and ongoing process to decide how to allocate a small portion of the city’s funds.

“Much of what we do in the city is based on a two-year political cycle, but we need to be thinking on a 20-year time horizon,” Elicker said. “Pension, health care and debt service payments are increasing every year. We need to start making longer-term fiscal decisions.”

Elicker, who served in the foreign service for the U.S. State Department for five years in Washington, D.C., Hong Kong and Taiwan, said that he ultimately wants to “place [his] roots in a local community” and be able to speak out about his personal opinions, which he could not do while working for the State Department. As a result, he decided to move to New Haven and enroll in both the Forestry School and School of Management at Yale.

During his second year living in New Haven, Elicker ran for the Ward 10 alderman seat in 2009, beating the incumbent. He is now in his second term.

When Haley Adams ’16 asked Elicker how he would ensure that not only “affluent” people were involved in engineering change in New Haven, he spoke about his experience as alderman.

“My current ward that I represent is East Rock and Cedar Hill. East Rock is middle to upper class and is primarily white, and Cedar Hill is mostly black and Hispanic … and is lower-income. If you talk with folks in Cedar Hill, they will tell you that I’m very responsive to their concerns as well as folks in East Rock,” Elicker said. “It doesn’t matter what you look like or what your background is: I’m going to respond and address your issue if I can address your issue.”

In response to a question posed by Gabe Levine ’14 about whether new jobs will go to New Haven residents or those who live in the suburbs outside of the city, Elicker said that new jobs will add to the city’s revenue in the short term regardless of who takes those jobs.

Elicker added that attracting people to live in New Haven on top of working in the city would require building a “sense of place” that depends on better transportation, city infrastructure and road design.

“I think Justin articulated very well what he stands for,” said Drew Morrison ’14, who is organizing the Elicker campaign on the Yale campus and introduced him to the rest of the students in attendance. “I think the people that came out today are very interested and excited and come from a variety of different campus organizations and backgrounds, and this is just the start.”

Holder-Winfield’s event on Feb. 18 attracted around 20 people, according to volunteer Rachel Miller ’15.

“It was exciting to have Holder-Winfield come and discuss his education, crime reduction and economic policy positions with a group of dedicated students,” Miller said. “I felt like he made an effort to get to know us as individuals and valued our input on the direction of the city.”

The third candidate who has filed his papers to run for mayor, New Haven resident and plumber Sundiata Keitazulu, has not yet made any efforts on Yale’s campus to connect with undergraduates.