The News reached out to both Democratic campaigns for columns from supporters — we have not yet received any from the Eidelson campaign.
On Sept. 16, Yale students have a choice between two Democrats running for Ward 1 alder. I know students have discussed the issues and candidates for some time, and, as a lifelong New Havener and member of the Board of Alders, I wanted to add my perspective and let you know why I strongly support Fish Stark.
I grew up in New Haven, and attended New Haven Public Schools. I’ve lived in Upper Westville for most of my life, serving our community as an organizer, teacher, youth minister and now as Ward 26’s alder.
When I think about the people I would like to serve with on the Board of Alders, the decision to endorse Fish was easy. He will work tirelessly to engage his constituency of Yale students in the city as a whole, to the benefit of all neighborhoods. He will work collaboratively and effectively with other alders, particularly on youth issues. And he is a principled, pro-labor progressive.
In my conversations with Fish, he presented a vision for how an engaged Ward 1 alder could involve Yale students in Westville — one of New Haven’s great historic neighborhoods, but one where Yale students rarely venture. He envisioned undergraduates tutoring students at Mauro-Sheridan, Edgewood and Davis Street schools, working as interns with the Westville Village Renaissance Alliance to promote economic development, shopping and dining in our affordable retail district and exploring Edgewood Park. He demonstrated a deep understanding of my neighborhood, and of the city as a whole, and showed his natural talent as an organizer who’s already worked to involve Yale students in our community.
His vision for responsibly engaging Yale students in New Haven would truly benefit neighborhoods like mine, and is a welcome change from the status quo.
Fish and I share a passion for youth issues — he’s spent his summers in New Haven working as a teacher, and I’m an education advocate and former teacher serving on the Board’s Youth Committee. Yet during the two years I’ve served on the committee, we’ve focused almost exclusively on redesigning a single website, leaving many critical issues facing New Haven youth unaddressed.
For instance, I am still paying off student loans, and see that student debt is a barrier to many Elm City students’ dreams. Accordingly, I championed a resolution supporting a statewide Student Loan Bill of Rights. I expected to work in partnership with the incumbernt Ward 1 alder, Sarah Eidelson ’12 on this initiative, but she never accepted my offer to collaborate. I had hoped to create a task force to address youth unemployment, but, for weeks, alder Eidelson didn’t respond to my outreach on this issue, until Fish emerged as a strong challenger in Ward 1.
I know that as my colleague, Fish would have worked with me on these important issues. In fact, he has engaged NHPS students and community members to craft a bold vision for youth services that has earned support from city leaders like my mentor, Dr. Ed Joyner, and Darnell Goldson, the two Democratic Party-endorsed candidates for Board of Education.
It is also important to me that the alders I serve with support New Haven’s working people and labor unions, especially UNITE HERE Locals 34 and 35. I was proud to earn their support in my 2013 campaign, and this year I have endorsed several union-backed candidates for alder. Notably, Locals 34 and 35 did not endorse a candidate for alder in Ward 1. I can confidently say that Fish is an unabashedly pro-union progressive who, like myself, supports New Haven Works, New Haven Rising, Graduate Employees Student Organization and rights and protections for domestic workers seeking to unionize. Not only that, but Fish also believes in the importance of bringing college students out on the picket lines to stand with labor — a unique constituency the Ward 1 alder can mobilize, but has chosen not to.
Fish is a compelling candidate because, unlike many Yalies, he has built real and deep relationships in this city. As someone who has lived here my whole life, I can tell the difference between someone who genuinely knows and cares about my city, and someone who uses politics for personal gain. Fish isn’t interested in climbing the ladder on the Board of Alders or acquiring ceremonial titles. He is invested in New Haven for the right reasons. Whether he’s elected or not, he’ll continue the work he’s doing to unite Yale students and New Haven, and the work he’s doing with youth. Still, it is important to elect him, because he is the representative you deserve, and will be the kind of alder our Board needs.
Take it from someone who knows this city, knows the candidates and knows what it takes to get things done on the Board of Alders: Fish Stark is the right choice.
Darryl Brackeen Jr. is alder for Ward 26. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .