What many had expected to be a tight race proved to be anything but.
After a seven-month campaign, Fish Stark ’17 suffered a hefty defeat in his bid for the Democratic nomination for Ward 1 alder at the hands of incumbent Sarah Eidelson ’12. Stark garnered only about 35 percent of the vote, after out-fundraising Eidelson by a margin of 10-to-one. Despite the fundraising differences, both candidates spent similar amounts of money on their campaigns.
Stark’s supporters gathered in Wall Street Pizza shortly after 8 p.m., just as results were announced. In his speech to the group of roughly 20 supporters, nearly all of them undergraduates, Stark argued that the campaign was not a complete failure. More importantly, though, Stark vowed to stick to his promise to support the Democratic nominee in the general election, effectively throwing his weight behind Eidelson.
“We have a Democratic nominee now,” Stark said in his speech. “We’ve got to get behind the Democratic nominee and make sure this city keeps moving forward.”
Eidelson will face Republican Ugonna Eze ’16 in the general election on Nov. 3. Stark has also said he has no plans to run for a second time in 2017.
In an interview with the News after his speech, Stark said he believed Eidelson had deployed superior resources, especially in the final days of the campaign.
“I think if you look at the numbers, she had more folks on the doors,” Stark said. “Our team was largely students, people who weren’t professional.”
Still, Stark’s field effort was far from anemic — his team knocked on every door on Old Campus and in the eight residential colleges in Ward 1 on Tuesday. Sergio Lopez-Valdez ’18, Stark’s campaign manager, thanked the campaign’s volunteers for their work and commended Stark on the leadership he had displayed during the campaign.
Stark said he would not characterize the campaign as a failure. Instead, he said the campaign will leave positive traces on the city.
“We have a lot of people on our team and beyond who are talking about the city in ways they weren’t before,” he said. “I think we built momentum.”
Josh Hochman ’18, an organizer and canvasser for the Stark campaign, echoed that sentiment. He said that, as a result of the campaign, many of his friends have begun to talk about the role of Yale in New Haven in ways that they had not considered previously.
Hochman added that the lopsided results came as something of a surprise. He had expected a tight race, a message he had made clear to students he met while canvassing.
Like Stark, Hochman said he will support Eidelson in the general election — possibly even canvassing for her in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, Stark said he was pleased with the way he had run his campaign, despite its ultimate failure on Election Day.
“I think we ran a clean campaign that followed the letter and spirit of the law,” he said. “We ran a campaign that was about this city, that was about increasing awareness of the city.”
He added that Eidelson had begun to talk about involving students in New Haven over the course of the campaign — something he said she hadn’t discussed in the past. He described Eidelson’s rhetoric about building student power and holding Yale and the Yale Corporation accountable for its actions in New Haven as “inspiring.”
Parts of Stark’s message appear to have rubbed off on at least a few voters, too — especially the freshmen to whom the campaign made a concerted outreach effort. Clark Burnett ’19, who said he voted for Stark, said he saw an “energy” in Stark’s campaign about student involvement in the city.