For the first time in 20 years, New Haven has a competitive mayoral race. With Mayor DeStefano stepping down, the race is wide open. However, despite the fact that there are five candidates vying for the job, Henry Fernandez LAW ’94 is the clear choice as the next mayor of New Haven. He is the only candidate with both the vision to move this city forward and the experience to ensure that he can do so from his first day in office.

Fernandez has lived in New Haven for the past 23 years and currently lives in the Fair Haven neighborhood with his wife Kica and their eight-year-old son Henry Jr, who attends the Edgewood public school. When Fernandez talks about ensuring that every child in New Haven gets a high-quality education, he is talking about his son, his neighbors and his community. He believes that the number a family draws in the public school lottery shouldn’t determine whether their child has a promising future.

This is why Fernandez’s campaign slogan is “One City.” It’s more than a catchphrase for posters, but rather a commitment that will affect each decision he makes as mayor. If there is a problem in one school, then that affects us all as one city. Every safer street will draw us closer as a community, while revitalizing downtown New Haven will boost our overall economy. One city means listening to every member of the community, from the Board of Aldermen to Yale’s administration to each resident of New Haven, to ensure that we prosper together.

What sets Fernandez apart is not only his vision, but also his experience. After graduating from Yale Law School, he co-founded and served as the executive director of LEAP. This nationally recognized youth agency trains and employs high school and college students to serve as tutors and mentors to younger, underserved children in New Haven. When Fernandez works to ensure that all of New Haven’s children have high quality youth centers to attend, he not only understands why they are necessary, but how we can make this hope a reality.

Fernandez served on the Obama-Biden transition team to develop policy relating to the national issue of homelessness for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He will draw on this extensive experience to work especially with the chronically homelessness to transition them to homes. As a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, he has written extensively on civil rights, immigration, community development and education. He serves on the board of Junta for Progressive Action and provides strategic support for social justice issues across the country. We don’t mention all of this simply because it’s an impressive resume, but rather because it shows the depth of experience that Fernandez will be able to draw from on his first day in City Hall.

In fact, he has already built off this experience to begin to repair our city. As New Haven’s Economic Development Administrator he led the charge to bring Ikea to Long Wharf, providing numerous high-paying jobs for New Haven residents. By fighting for Gateway Community College to open downtown, he ensured that New Haven residents have direct access to the education they need today for the jobs of tomorrow. And his development of over 300 new homes in Newhallville, Dixwell, Fair Haven and across the city is one step closer to guaranteeing that every family has a place to call home.

Fernandez’s commitment to New Haven is unquestionable. He has shown this time and time again with his works both for and outside city government, from LEAP to his tenure as New Haven’s Economic Development Administrator. Now is the time to give someone with his level of expertise the chance to improve our Elm City. Only with a man as committed to uniting New Haven as Fernandez is, can we expect the real change that we desperately need and deserve. A vote for Henry Fernandez is a vote for New Haven, a vote for us to become one city.

Emma Janger is a sophomore in Trumbull College and Kate Pincus is a sophomore in Calhoun College. Janger is the president of Yale for Fernandez, and Pincus is its vice president. Pincus is also a member of the News’ copy staff. Contact them at and .