Eight months before the municipal election, Ward 1 has its first candidate in Fish Stark ’17, who formally declared on Tuesday afternoon that he would run for alder in the Yale-dominated district.
The announcement — which came just over a week after Stark formed an exploratory committee to investigate a possible campaign — makes him the only declared candidate for the seat, one of 30 on the Board of Alders. The ward is composed almost entirely of Old Campus and eight residential colleges.
The ward’s current alder, Sarah Eidelson ’12, has yet to announce whether she will seek re-election. Should she run, Eidelson would be seeking her third term; she first won the seat in 2011. Eidelson did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Tuesday evening.
“I’m running for Ward 1 alder because I love New Haven, and I love Yale, and I know that these two communities are strongest when we engage meaningfully with one another and work together towards progressive change,” Stark said in an email to roughly 400 Yale students, sent just after 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Stark and Eidelson met early last week to discuss the position and Stark’s exploratory committee. Stark said he made his decision to announce his candidacy independently, without seeking Eidelson’s approval.
No Republican candidate has yet to enter the race. Amalia Halikias ’15, the Yale College Republicans’ communications director, said the YCR is awaiting the entry of any additional candidates, but will not formally run a candidate or promote one from its student board.
“Given that we are a whopping nine months away from Election Day, we are sure that there are plenty of qualified candidates who may wait a respectable period of time before announcing,” she said.
In his email, Stark outlined his involvement in New Haven politics and community affairs since arriving at Yale in 2013. He volunteered for Justin Elicker FES ’10 SOM ’10 in his 2013 campaign for mayor and spent last summer working as a President’s Public Service Fellow with Squash Haven. In addition he served as the membership coordinator for the Yale College Democrats last semester.
Stark’s campaign website — which describes his experience, goals and visions — went active at roughly the same time that news of his candidacy hit email inboxes around campus. Sergio Lopez ’18 will be Stark’s campaign manager, and Hedy Gutfreund ’18 will serve as the campaign’s treasurer.
A political science major in Jonathan Edwards College, Stark hails from a town near Annapolis, Maryland. He comes from a political family: His father, Fortney Stark Jr., served as a congressman from California for nearly 40 years.
In an interview with the News, Stark said he deliberately chose to make his announcement early in the season — no candidate has announced this early since Minh Tran ’09 declared his candidacy in February 2009. Stark said the early announcement will give him more time to meet with Yale students and city officials, adding that he has spent recent weeks having conversations with Yale students about the race and the relationship between Yale and New Haven.
“Really what’s important to me at this point is hearing what people’s ideas for the role of Yale students in New Haven are, what people’s ideas for the role of Yale as an institution in New Haven is and how the Ward 1 alder can facilitate meaningful partnerships,” he said.
Stark said he plans to spend one week in New Haven over the spring recess to meet with community leaders, alders and city officials. He added that he will discuss his own visions for Ward 1 and the city, but hopes to gain from listening to the ideas of others.
Stark’s campaign also released a press release to supplement the email. The document included statements of support from a dozen Yale students — many of them members of the Yale College Democrats board — and from two New Haven figures, including Lee Cruz, a community organizer in Fair Haven, and Julie Greenwood, the executive director of Squash Haven. In an interview last week, Tyler Blackmon ’16, president of the Dems and a columnist for the News, said the Dems will not endorse a candidate should both Stark and Eidelson run.
The campaign will hold a formal kick-off event in the first week after the spring recess, Stark said. Additionally, Stark said he will hold office hours, which will give students an opportunity to meet with him and present their ideas.
Gutfreund, the treasurer, said the campaign does have the infrastructure to accept donations, but has not yet begun a fundraising push and has no plans to do so in the near future.
The “Make a Donation” page on the campaign website states that the online donation system has not yet been completed, and instead directs potential donors to Lopez, the campaign manager.
This article has been updated to reflect the version published in print on March 4, 2015.
Correction, March 4: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the gender of Minh Tran.