A new face will soon represent the Hill neighborhood on the Board of Alders, as its long-standing alder takes his leave of New Haven politics to assume a statewide position.
Board President Jorge Perez, who currently represents the Hill neighborhood as alder for Ward 5, resigned from his seat Friday after he was unanimously confirmed as Connecticut’s banking commissioner. Gov. Dannel Malloy appointed Perez to the position in February, citing his 25 years of experience in the banking sector as proof that he would serve the state well. Perez currently serves as senior commercial lending officer for Liberty Bank on Church Street. Last Friday, the General Assembly voted 36–0 to confirm Perez.
“There are a lot of emotions that come with resigning,” Perez said. “But I look forward to serving in my new role.”
Although Perez said he stepped down from the Board on Friday, his resignation is not yet effective. Currently, Perez — still a member of the Board’s Finance Committee — is involved in public hearings and workshops concerning Mayor Toni Harp’s budget proposal for the 2015–16 fiscal year.
The city will hold a special election to determine who will finish Perez’s term as alder. Perez said he has thus far only spoken to one candidate — Johnny Dye — who has expressed interest in taking over the Ward 5 seat. Dye currently serves as a co-chair in Ward 5, helping to lead the neighborhood’s ward committee.
There will only be a special election if additional candidates come forward, Perez said. According to Democratic Town Committee Chairman Vincent Mauro, after Dye is formally endorsed by his fellow co-chair to run for Perez’s seat, there will be a period of several weeks for petitioning candidates to collect signatures to appear on the ballot. If there are no petitioning candidates, Mauro said, Dye will take over as Ward 5 alder for the remainder of Perez’s term, which lasts until the end of this year.
Dye told the New Haven Independent last Thursday that, if elected, he only plans to serve as Hill alder for the period between Perez’s resignation and the end of the term. He does not plan to run again for the seat in November, he told the Independent. Meanwhile, Perez said he expects more people to run for the seat during the election in November.
City Hall spokesman Laurence Grotheer said that, in the case of an uncontested special election, the turnover of the Hill seat will be overseen by city clerk Michael Smart.
Grotheer added that, while Perez’s 28 years of experience in municipal government would be missed, the mayor is confident that he will advocate for New Haven in his new role as banking commissioner.
“The mayor recognizes that New Haven’s loss will be the benefit of the state banking department,” he said. In a statement following Perez’s nomination, Harp praised the alder’s financial acumen, evident not only in his day job as a banker but in his steady guidance of the finance committee.
Bitsie Clark, a former alder for the downtown neighborhood and Harp’s 2015 campaign treasurer, said Perez’s perspective would be especially missed in meetings of the finance committee, tasked with scrutinizing and ultimately approving the budget proposals the mayor sends to the Board.
According to the bylaws of the Board of Alders, president pro tempore and West River alder Tyisha Walker will take over for Perez as the board’s president. Perez has served two terms as the board’s president — once from 2000 to 2006 and a second time since 2012.