On a dark and drizzly Wednesday evening, Dixwell Alder Jeanette Morrison went door to door on Henry Street, introducing neighborhood residents to Ward 22 Democratic co-chair candidates Victoria Dancy and Gabrielle Diaz ’18.
“These are my girls,” Morrison said.
In the days leading up to the primary next Tuesday, the alder-backed slate of Dancy and Diaz have stepped up their campaign to unseat incumbent co-chair Cordelia Thorpe, who is running for re-election. Thorpe is running as a team with Dixwell Community Management Team treasurer Angela Watley, while former Democratic Deputy Registrar of Voters Helen Powell is running alone. All five candidates have adopted strategies to combat the expected low voter turnout for this election, which is the city’s only contested co-chair race.
For Dancy — an adjunct professor at Gateway Community College, a single mother and the treasurer for Morrison’s aldermanic campaigns — Wednesday’s strategy involved finding time to canvass in between work and picking her son up from a Black History Month event at school. Dancy and Diaz, a Timothy Dwight resident, have completed eight canvasses in the past two weeks, reaching out to both Yale students and Dixwell residents. Ward 22 encompasses the Ezra Stiles, Morse, Silliman and Timothy Dwight colleges, as well as Swing Space. Yale undergraduates make up about a third of the ward’s residents.
While canvassing Wednesday, Morrison told residents that she would need the support of her co-chairs going forward with the “Q” House renovation. The “Q” House, a former community center for youth that closed in 2013, received a $14.5 million grant from the state last month for reconstruction.
Dancy and Diaz’s team has gathered a group of volunteers consisting of Yale students, other ward co-chairs and community members to help them canvass. This outreach is not a matter of swaying voters, Morrison said. Rather, the active campaigning is intended to make Dixwell residents aware of Tuesday’s election, which will be held at the Wexler-Grant School.
Thorpe, also the current president of the Dixwell Community Management Team, has reached out to her constituents mainly through email, text and Facebook, she said. She would like the Yale College Democrats president — now her current co-chair, Maxwell Ulin ’17 — to introduce her to Yale students who live in the ward, she added.
But Ulin has backed Dancy and Diaz, an aspiring lawyer who hails from Georgia. Earlier this month, Ulin told the News that a Yale student sitting as co-chair would help unite the ward as a whole.
In October, Thorpe said she had been looking for another Yale student to run on a slate with her. However, she said Wednesday that she has been unsuccessful because she does not know how to contact any Yale students, although she has been trying to reach out for years.
“I would like Yale students to come out and meet with us,” Thorpe said. “I look forward to forging a new town-and-gown relationship.”
Powell said she had not reached out to Yale students either, but she already knows a significant number of Dixwell residents.
Powell also intends to run for Democratic registrar of voters — an elected four-year position — later this year, she said.
Back at their base on Lake Place Wednesday night, canvassers for Dancy and Diaz began tallying the number of voters who had agreed to vote for the pair. That evening, the campaign received 36 answers in the affirmative. Over last weekend, the campaign received over 100 positive answers from voters during canvasses, Diaz said.