A member of the all-Democratic Board of Alders will may soon have the power to fill positions that were originally reserved for the non-Democratic minority leader.
At its meeting last night, the Aldermanic Affairs Committee voted unanimously and without discussion to recommend an amendment that allows a Democrat to fill the role of minority leader. The Board of Alders will vote on whether or not to approve the amendment, which would allow the Board to elect a minority leader.
Several alders interviewed said they were unsure why it took so long to recommend the amendment. Perez cited the slow government process and a lack of urgency as potential drivers of the delay. He added that there was “no harm done” by leaving the positions unfilled.
In previous years, the Board has always had at least one non-Democratic representative — either a member of the Republican Party or a member of the Green Party — who served as the minority leader and served on these commissions, according to committee chair and Ward 13 Alder Rosa Santana.
However, because the current Board of Alders is entirely Democratic, new rules had to be passed in order to account for those positions, said Director of Legislative Services Al Lucas. The passage of the new amendment would allow for the appointed Democratic representative to head the various commissions, committees and boards that would normally need to be filled by a member of a different political party. The committee did not specify a date when the minority leader would be elected.
Santana noted that having an all-Democratic board has not produced a distinct change in aldermanic discourse.
“There’s always a shift in discussion with new members,” she said. “Each person has a different set of values in that the way they view things is different than the way anybody else views them.”
Santana said she believes that one’s political affiliation does not directly correlate with their stance on city issues, and that it therefore does not make sense to reserve positions to the minority party.
The Republican party has always had a limited presence in New Haven. Data compiled by the New Haven Registrar of Voters indicates that there were over 50,000 registered Democrats as of February 2014, but just over 2,500 registered Republicans. There are an additional 19,000 unaffiliated voters.
On its website, the New Haven Republican Town Committee currently advertises itself as “New Haven’s Other Political Party” and reassures its members that “Yes, there is such a group.” At the last New Haven Republican Town Committee, GOP Town Chairman Richter Elser referred to the meeting as “a biennial chance to celebrate the fact that there is, in fact, a Republican Party in New Haven.”
New Haven’s last Republican mayor, William Celentano, was elected in 1945.