Presidential election years are typically uneventful for New Haven politics, with the exception of the contest for two positions: the Democratic and Republican Registrars of Voters.
Following the departure of longtime Democratic registrar Shannon Ferrucci in January, a competitive race has emerged for her former position, with at least three candidates declaring their intention to run in the Democratic primary in November. The registrar of voters oversees voter registration and performs all the duties required by state statutes governing the annual canvass of voters and primary elections. They also compile statistical information for municipal, state and federal government agencies.
The first of those candidates is Shannel Evans, the current Democratic registrar. Evans, a 27-year-old who got her start in politics on the Dwight Community Management Team, earned a promotion from her former role as deputy Democratic registrar when Ferrucci retired in November. After hinting in January that she might run for a full term, Evans confirmed to the News Monday her intent to seek election in November.
Also in the mix is Helen Powell, a former Democratic deputy registrar. Powell said she has filed papers to run and is currently preparing for her campaign by accumulating signatures and organizing a pamphleteering push.
Powell is a longtime and well-known community member, having lived in the Dwight neighborhood since 1962. She served as president of the annual Freddie Fixer parade, a community celebration of the city’s African-American population, ran for alder in 2013 and launched an unsuccessful bid for Ward 22 co-chair in March.
Powell said she does not expect to win the Democratic nomination, but vowed that she will give it a try anyway.
“I’m not going to get the party’s nomination,” she said. “So I’m going to go out and do what I have to do and get some signatures. Shannel’s the one who’s going to get the party’s nomination.”
The third candidate vying for Democratic registrar is Sergio Rodriguez, a former five-term Westville alder who unsuccessfully ran for city clerk in 2013. Rodriguez currently serves on the board of the New Haven Democracy Fund — the city’s organization for public financing of mayoral campaigns — and works for the state Department of Education in Hartford. He filed his campaign papers with the city last week, naming Frank Alvarado of East Haven his campaign’s treasurer.
Rodriguez publicly announced his formation of an exploratory committee — the first step toward launching an official campaign — via a Thursday Facebook post. In the post, he described the position as one that “strengthens our democratic society as whole.”
“The most rewarding piece of service has been my years working at New Haven City Hall and the 10 years of public service as an alder for the City of New Haven,” Rodriguez wrote. “Serving my ward, responding to the needs of others, collaborating, negotiating, making a difference and giving voice to those issues and needs not being heard has been my true pleasure.”
Rodriguez also wrote in the post that he will soon be releasing the details of his first fundraising event. Since his failed run for city clerk in 2013, Rodriguez has remained active in state politics, attending Democratic events in towns ranging from Bridgeport to Bethany.
As per the City Charter, registrars are elected for four-year terms.