On the heels of a forceful Ward 1 Democratic Primary win by Sarah Eidelson ’12, supporters of former challenger Fish Stark ’17 are split on whether or not they will support the incumbent in the general election.
During the primary, the Yale College Democrats did not canvass for either candidate, and the Ward 1 Democratic Committee declined to make an official endorsement in the race — although Stark independently solicited the support of 19 of 37 members of the committee. Following Eidelson’s primary victory, however, the Dems have thrown their weight behind her.
“Although the majority of our board volunteered with Fish’s campaign, we have a duty as the official arm of the Democratic Party on campus to support the winner of the primary,” said Maxwell Ulin ’17, elections coordinator for the Dems.
Ulin added that, while the Dems had decided to remain neutral in the election when Stark declared his candidacy in March, Republican Ugonna Eze’s ’16 entry into the race in April changed that decision. The Dems agreed in the spring, Ulin said, to back the victor of the primary election.
Jacob Wasserman ’17, co-chair for the Ward 1 committee, said that both the ward’s committee and the town’s Democratic Committee would officially endorse Eidelson in November. He added that while details regarding canvassing have not yet been finalized, members of the Ward 1 committee will volunteer for Eidelson’s campaign.
Stark, who pledged his support to Eidelson after primary results were released Wednesday night, said he is not yet sure whether he will canvass on her behalf.
“I haven’t given it much thought yet, but I’m supporting Sarah, and I want to make sure people know that,” he said.
Eidelson will face Eze in the general election on Nov. 3. Eze’s status as a Republican candidate in an overwhelmingly Democratic ward, he said, has not proven a challenge thus far.
“Even though we’re running under the Republican label, people see that our campaign staff is 50 percent Democrat and 50 percent Republican and that it’s really a bipartisan campaign and a bipartisan message,” Eze said.
Eze added that his team will hold events — like last week’s event on sustainability at Yale and in New Haven — highlighting each of his platform’s other central issues including homelessness, unemployment, education reform and public safety.
Meanwhile, some Stark supporters — including members of the Board of Alders and students unaffiliated with the Dems — remain uncertain as to whether they will back Eidelson in the general election.
Rafi Bildner ’16, a Democrat but not a member of the Dems, said he will not be supporting Eidelson in November. Although Bildner is a resident of Ward 2, the Dwight neighborhood, he has been an active supporter of Stark’s candidacy, canvassing for him and standing with him at the Ward 1 polling place on Wednesday. Bildner, who formerly lived in Ward 1, said he will not be backing Eidelson because he was not satisfied with her work as his alder over the past two years. He also does not intend to support Eze.
“I’m going to stay out of it,” Bildner said. “Just because someone has a ‘D’ next to their name doesn’t mean I’m going to be intimidated into supporting them if they’re not doing their job.”
Alders who endorsed Stark are also on the fence as to whether to support Eidelson going forward.
Newhallville Alder Brenda Foskey-Cyrus, for instance, said she may support Eidelson, but will only decide whether or not to do so if the Ward 1 alder approaches her for an endorsement. Foskey-Cyrus was not aware that Eidelson will face a Republican challenger She declined to comment on whether she would be open to endorsing Eze if he sought her support.
East Rock Alder Anna Festa, who also endorsed Stark, said she would likely remain neutral in the Ward 1 general election.
Despite any challenges in securing the endorsement of some members of the Board of Alders, Eidelson said she looks forward to leveraging the Dems’ support.
“We are definitely excited for more people to get involved,” she said. “We’ll have time to be able to reach even more students.”
The timing of the primary, which took place just two weeks after the first day of classes, made it difficult to reach a large volume of students but successfully generated buzz on campus about the election and about Yale’s relationship with New Haven, Eidelson said.
The Yale Dems canvassed for Eidelson in 2013, when she faced Republican challenger Paul Chandler ’14.