Shortly after the New Haven Board of Alders bid farewell to longtime president and Hill alder Jorge Perez, Ward 1 Alder Sarah Eidelson ’12 made it into the record books.
In a unanimous vote of approval from the Board, Eidelson was confirmed as the third officer, or the Board’s minority leader, making her the first Ward 1 alder to take a leadership position on the Board. That vote came after the Board hosted a send-off ceremony for Perez, who has served as alder for the Hill neighborhood for nearly 30 years. Perez is leaving the board to become the state’s banking commissioner, a post to which Gov. Dannel Malloy nominated him in February.
Eidelson was nominated for minority leader by Dixwell Alder Jeanette Morrison, who praised Eidelson’s “strong leadership qualities.” Fair Haven Alder Santiago Berrios-Bones and Westville Alder Adam Marchand GRD ’99 seconded Morrison’s nomination. Morrison, who represents four of Yale’s 12 residential colleges, said Eidelson has shown an ability to tackle Yale-oriented issues as well as issues that affect the broader New Haven community.
“I commit to being a partner and coworker for each of you,” Eidelson said after the Board approved her nomination.
Morrison pointed to Eidelson’s focus on reopening the Q House on Dixwell Avenue and her creation of the New Haven Youth Map — an online tool that connects city youth with affordable afterschool and summer programs — as highlights of her term.
The position of the third officer has traditionally been held by a member of a minority party, but revisions to the city charter approved by voters in 2013 stipulated that, if the Board contains no non-Democratic members, as is currently the case, a Democrat would take over as third officer. Eidelson said the post comes with certain responsibilities, such as being included when the leadership of the Board meets with the mayor.
“It’s really a unique opportunity for a Yale student to have a position in the leadership of Board of Alders,” Ward 1 Co-Chair Sarah Giovanniello ’16 said. “It just means that Yale students can have an even stronger voice than they may have had before.”
The Monday night meeting also saw the Black and Hispanic Caucus’s annual state of the city address, delivered by Hill Alder Dolores Colon ’91 and Newhallville Alder Delphine Clyburn. The speech focused on an issue of personal relevance to many residents who attended the meeting — the jobs crisis in New Haven.
Colon and Clyburn’s speech largely focused on youth issues and job creation, which Eidelson has focused on during her tenure. Colon and Clyburn spoke at length about what they called the “jobs crisis” in the city — New Haven is currently home to 20,000 unemployed and underemployed residents — with the city’s Black and Hispanic neighborhoods affected most severely, they said.
The two alders called on local companies to help resolve the crisis by hiring more New Haven residents. They praised New Haven Works, a recently created program that seeks to match qualified New Haven residents with jobs in the city.
“Today, through a public-private partnership, this pipeline, New Haven Works, is helping our people find jobs,” Colon said. “But our people are stuck in the pipeline.”
Clyburne praised Yale University and Yale-New Haven Hospital for their role in the program — many of the jobs to which New Haven works has matched residents are located within the Yale system. But the program could go further, the alders said, noting that its workshops currently have a waiting list of 500 city residents.
At the meeting, a lengthy lineup of speakers — including Mayor Toni Harp, Majority Leader Alphonse Paolillo Jr., and West River Alder Tyisha Walker, who is currently the president of the Board — praised Perez for his nearly three decades of commitment to the Board.
“Yes, he was the alderman of the fifth ward, but he also provided service to the people of the city of New Haven over the years,” Harp said. “Jorge mastered the process of the city […] [he has] set the stage upon which this city can grow.”