Mayor Toni Harp announced her bid for a second term at a campaign kickoff event on Saturday.
The kickoff, held at Edgewood Park, was attended by community members as well as representatives of New Haven at the state and federal levels. Sen. Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73, Sen. Chris Murphy, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and state senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney each endorsed Harp, underscoring her commitment to bolstering youth services in the city. In her remarks, Harp spoke of the city’s progress in reducing crime, bettering public schools and creating new jobs as strengths of her administration. The campaign’s office will open on June 6 at 940 Whalley Ave.
“I’m excited. I’m joyful. And I’m proud to announce that I’m running for a second term for mayor,” Harp said.
Thus far, three others have announced their candidacies in the mayoral race. Sundiata Keitazulu, a plumber from Newhallville, is running as a Democrat and will face the incumbent in the Democratic primary this September. Former City Clerk Ron Smith and East Shore firefighter Salvatore Consiglio, both of whom are running as Independents, will appear on the November ballot if they collect the requisite number of signatures to qualify as petitioning candidates.
Several city officials, including Hill alder Dolores Colon ’91, have noted that Harp is the leading candidate in the race, but Murphy said city residents should still vote on Nov. 3.
“This is as important as it gets,” he said. “It’s up to everyone here … to take nothing for granted in this election.”
DeLauro, who introduced Harp, cited the mayor’s 100-day challenge to reduce homelessness in New Haven as an example of progress in the city under Harp’s leadership. The campaign was a partnership between the city and several nonprofit organizations to seek out housing for as much of the city’s homeless population as possible. Throughout the challenge, 102 of New Haven’s homeless men and women found housing.
But DeLauro said Harp’s most significant contributions to the city during her first term have been in youth services, including City Youth Stat, an initiative that identifies and assists at-risk youth using data about student absences from school and students transferring between schools.
“[Youth Stat] engages kids who otherwise might fall prey to violence,” DeLauro said. “it saves lives.”
Osheem McBride, a participant in the Youth Stat program, also spoke at the kickoff. His mentors at Youth Stat, he said, would often text him to check up on him, adding that this demonstrated the mentors’ investment in the program.
In her speech, which echoed her state of the city address delivered in February, Harp focused on fostering collaboration between city departments and between the city and the state and federal governments to improve New Haven. She attributed the success of both the 100-day challenge and Youth Stat to such partnerships.
“We grow stronger when we support and listen to each other,” she said. “City government isn’t some separate entity that solves problems and creates solutions on its own.”
Examples of progress in New Haven under her leadership, Harp said, are the drop in rate of shootings and the introduction of walking beats in the NHPD — an initiative that aims to increase trust between police officers and community members.
“[Harp] has demonstrated again and again that she is committed to helping working people,” Blumenthal said. “She has all the right values.”
Harp is the 50th mayor of New Haven. She is the city’s first female mayor.