Newhallville resident Ron Smith officially announced his intention to run for mayor to a small gathering or supporters at The Greek Olive restaurant Thursday evening.
Smith, who filed papers to run with the city clerk’s office in April but had not formally announced his candidacy until recently, will challenge incumbent Mayor Toni Harp on the November ballot as a petitioning candidate. Smith collected and submitted 235 signatures of registered voters, surpassing the requisite 208, in late May to qualify as an independent.
“Our campaign is really focused on the people and root of the problems in the city,” Smith’s campaign manager Mahogany Mathis said. “There are too many resources in this city to not solve these problems.”
Smith decided to abandon his Democratic party affiliation and run as an independent, Mathis said, to attract more voters — Democrats, Republicans and Independents — to the polls. She added that he hopes the voter turnout for this year’s mayoral election will be even higher than that in 2013. The last municipal election cycle saw a 29 percent turnout, which was five percent higher than the 2011 turnout.
Sundiata Keitazulu, also a Newhallville resident, will appear alongside Harp and Smith on the general election ballot. He recently submitted close to 300 signatures to the city clerk’s office to confirm his spot as a petitioning candidate.
“I’m running as an independent because it’s impossible to get the endorsement of the Democratic Town Committee with an incumbent running,” Keitazulu said.
New Haven’s town committee unanimously endorsed Harp in late July.
“The mayor’s work has spoken for itself,” said Newhallville alder Brenda Foskey-Cyrus, who also received the town’s endorsement. “Why would anyone else want to interfere with that? I think it’s a waste of dollars.”