More than one week after the Board of Alders launched a citywide survey, the board is optimistic about the community’s engagement in helping craft the Elm City’s new legislative agenda for the upcoming two years.
The board announced the survey last Monday in an effort to solicit opinions from New Haven residents and involve the entire community in conversations about the city government’s priorities. The survey, available both online and in paper, aims to gauge feedback on existing Board of Alders initiatives and outlook on potential future improvements. So far, alders have expressed confidence in the new project, and said residents have begun to fill out both the online and physical questionnaires.
Board President and Ward 23 Alder Tyisha Walker said she expects the survey to be open for submission at least until December, after which the board will review and analyze all the received responses; results will be reflected in the updated legislative agenda, which is scheduled to be published in January 2017.
“You don’t have to do much to encourage people to fill out the survey, because they are excited that the elected officials want to hear from them,” Walker said. “All you have to do is explain to them the reasons why you are doing the surveys.”
Ward 1 Alder Sarah Eidelson ’12, one of the main driving forces behind this project, said the survey is a proactive plan put forth by the board to include more people into local political and community-building discussions.
She noted that the legislative process in New Haven is special due to a large body of representatives governing a fairly small city, and that the citywide survey would help alders determine which issues are “universal” and require collective effort from the municipal government.
Every ward faces a variety of concerns, some of which are particular and inapplicable to other wards, Eidelson said. But by polling residents from all 30 wards, the board can reach a consensus on a bundle of issues that require a citywide approach, she said.
In that vein, the board will also actively seek out voices from Yale’s campus, as Yale students make up a large portion of the resident population in both Ward 1 and Ward 22.
Ward 22 Alder Jeanette Morrison said she plans on reaching out to the four residential colleges located in her ward — Silliman, Morse, Ezra Stiles and Timothy Dwight Colleges — in November to continue her efforts of incorporating the Yale community into the larger New Haven area.
Gabrielle Diaz ’18, Ward 22 co-chair on the Democratic Town Committee, will continue to aid Morrison in these efforts. Diaz said she often acts as a liaison between Yalies and Morrison by scheduling meals on campus for Morrison and encouraging students to connect with their alder.
Alders interviewed noted that the citywide survey is not the first time the board has called on the entire city for its input on legislative concerns. In 2012, the board had a similar project that involved knocking on residents’ doors and inquiring about some of their chief concerns about New Haven.
Walker said she is confident that the survey this year will generate ample responses from “a good array of different people,” as she was able to draw experience from the 2012 survey when the board collected input from thousands of its constituents.
But this iteration of the survey comes at very unusual timing, Eidelson said, as it coincides with the current presidential-election season and presents a chance for residents to exchange ideas on how the local government can improve the community.
“The survey is in context of the presidential election,” Eidelson said. “It does seem like an opportunity for us to jump on that conversation and get folks to channel some of that political energy to thinking about their local government.”
Residents can fill out the survey via a link on the city’s official website as well as by picking up a physical copy at the Office of Legislative Services located in City Hall.