While some students are watching presidential primaries pick up around the country, a local race is heating up in Ward 22.
The ward, which contains both Dixwell and four of Yale’s residential colleges, will be the only ward in New Haven with a contested co-chair race this election season. Five candidates have filed petitions for the two positions on the Democratic Town Committee, including current Ward 22 Co-Chair Cordelia Thorpe, who is running on a slate with Angela Watley. The other candidates include Timothy Dwight resident Gabrielle Diaz ’18, who is running as a team with former co-chair candidate Victoria Dancy. New Haven resident Helen Powell is the fifth candidate. The co-chair election is scheduled for March 1, giving candidates less than three weeks to sway voters on choosing their community leaders for the next two years. Both Morrison and outgoing Ward 22 Co-Chair Maxwell Ulin ’17 have endorsed Dancy and Diaz.
“Both [Dancy and Diaz] are extremely hardworking and dedicated to the community, and I think that they will form a great team to lead the committee and help bridge the Yale-New Haven divide,” Ulin said.
Over the past decade, Yale students have frequently served as one of the two co-chairs in the ward, which contains the Ezra Stiles, Morse, Silliman and Timothy Dwight colleges as well as Swing Space. Josef Goodman ’14 won the co-chair position in 2012 and Alyssa Rosenberg ’06 served as a co-chair from 2004 to 2006.
Diaz first began her involvement with Ward 22 while canvassing for Gov. Dannel Malloy’s gubernatorial campaign in the fall of 2014. Her interactions with Dixwell have been primarily through her work on the Ward 22 Democratic Committee, where she conducts voter outreach and registration, she said. After learning of the upcoming co-chair election from Ulin, Diaz decided to run.
If elected as co-chair, Diaz said, she will aim to improve education among Yale students about Ward 22 and foster greater participation in the ward. She added that the ward represents the relationship between city and university.
Dancy, who has previously served as a treasurer on Morrison’s aldermanic campaigns, is a Dixwell resident whom Morrison and Diaz described as being engaged in the ward. Dancy and Diaz’s campaign aims to speak with every registered Democrat in the ward by election day by canvassing four times a week.
“It’s a pretty competitive election considering this is the only election in the city right now,” Diaz said. “People are not going to get out to vote unless we really get to them.”
Morrison, who has been alder of the ward since 2012, said one of her main goals is to bridge the gap between the New Haven and Yale communities in her ward. In pursuit of that goal, she aims to set up and support co-chair teams consisting of one permanent New Haven resident and one Yale student, she added. She said it is important for students to become involved in local politics because the ward houses a significant student population. Currently, Yale undergraduates make up roughly 30 percent of the ward.
Diaz noted that although more Yale students are aware of issues in Ward 1, Ward 22 will have growing importance for both the city and Yale, as the ward will encompass the University’s new residential colleges, set to open in fall 2017.
Ulin — who has now spent one term as co-chair with Thorpe — said he believes that without a Yale student on the ticket, Thorpe and Watley will not be as well equipped to unite the ward through the committee.
Thorpe told the News in October that she had been seeking another Yale student to run as her counterpart in the co-chair race, as she and Ulin did not run on a slate together in 2014. In that year’s co-chair election, Dancy — then running on a ticket with Eshe Sherley ’16 — was disqualified from the Ward 22 co-chair race along with Sherley after neglecting to submit a proper petition to the New Haven Registrar of Voters. Thorpe, the only remaining candidate in the race, automatically secured a position. Ulin was later appointed to the other position by the city’s Town Committee Chair through Morrison’s recommendation.
Thorpe did not respond to multiple requests for comment as of press time.
The two candidates for Ward 1 co-chair this year are Clifford Carr ’17 and Chris Rice ’18.