Sarah Eidelson ’12 won a third term as Ward 1 alder Tuesday by 17 votes — the narrowest margin in Ward 1 history.
In a tense race, the Democrat defeated a spirited challenge from Republican Ugonna Eze ’16, a senior in Pierson College, who received 369 votes to Eidelson’s 386. The turnout of 755 voters nearly matched the total from Eidelson’s first bid for re-election in 2013, and was substantially higher than the turnout in the September primary, when just 483 Ward 1 residents cast their votes. Of the general election voters, 705 cast their ballots at the New Haven Free Public Library, while 53 used same-day voter registration procedures to vote at City Hall.
After votes from the library revealed Eidelson led with 374 votes to Eze’s 326, the 53 same-day ballots at City Hall had to be counted, as Eidelson’s 48-vote margin of victory was too small to officially determine the final results of the election.
Despite the loss, Eze showed a stronger performance and backing in general than Eidelson’s previous challengers, including Fish Stark ’17. Stark only received 36 percent of the vote in the primary. In the 2013 general election, Eidelson won 65 percent of the vote against Republican Paul Chandler ’14. Two years prior, Eidelson swept a race against Democrat Vinay Nayak ’14 with 59 percent of voters.
In a speech to his supporters outside of City Hall, Eze said that the campaign will have lasting effects on local politics by challenging students to reconsider their town-gown relations. He added that his priority following the election will be to continue supporting mentoring relationships between Yale students and New Haven youths, a goal he pushed forward during his aldermanic campaign.
“We’ve shaken up the establishment,” Eze said. “We’ve showed them that when people are willing and ready to make a change they will do it.”
In an interview with the News, Eze added that his campaign and his narrow defeat should set higher standards for how the Ward 1 alder treats students and responds to their complaints.
After preliminary results were announced at the New Haven Free Public Library, Eidelson praised her campaign team in a speech to supporters.
“What we do know is that because of this group of people we did something amazing today,” she said. “Together we can build a stronger Ward 1 and a stronger Yale.”
During the election, candidates set up camp side-by-side outside of the polling place from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Turnout was slow but steady throughout the daytime hours, but after roughly 5 p.m., it markedly increased. The line to vote eventually led out of the door and voters faced up to a 45-minute wait time. Because of long lines, the last ballots were not cast until 8:30 p.m.
Students who voted for Eidelson said they supported her because of her experience in the Elm City, citing her relationships with city officials and initiatives targeted toward helping New Haven youths.
Matt Chisholm ’18 said he voted for Eidelson because he thought her public housing plans were stronger than Eze’s.
“Sarah has had an exceptional first few terms, started long-term projects, and has great relationships with the other alders and the mayor,” Layla Treuhaft-Ali ’17 said. “I think she shows a great commitment to New Haven, which I wasn’t sure about with the other candidate.”
New Haven alders are elected every two years.
Correction, Nov. 4: A previous version of this article stated that Vinay Nayak ’14 ran as a Republican in 2011. In fact, he ran as a Democrat.