Santiago Berrios-Bones stepped down from his position as Fair Haven alder at the beginning of this month, citing a desire to spend more time with his family.
Berrios-Bones, who served as Ward 14 alder for four years, said he chose to resign because he planned to move to North Carolina to be closer to his daughter and grandchildren.
Berrios-Bones, whose term would have ended in December, reflected fondly on his time as alder.
“I’ll miss the connections that I made with the different members of the Board [of Alders],” he said. “They’re great friends and we worked well together.”
Berrios-Bones added that he was proud of his work to change parking laws that caused unfair ticketing in Fair Haven. He focused on changing signage behind Fair Haven Middle School that prohibited parking on weekend nights. The signage was unnecessary and several residents were ticketed because of it, Berrios-Bones said. He added that many homes in New Haven, including several in Fair Haven, were built without driveways, forcing residents to park on the street or in other public places where signage prohibited people from parking.
Although that signage has not yet been changed, city officials are looking into changing it as well as other problematic signs around the city, Berrios-Bones said.
He also said he was also proud of his effort to make popular public spaces, such as the New Haven Green, smoke-free. He explained that this was not meant to be punitive, but instead to pressure people to quit smoking and raise awareness about its consequences.
The Fair Haven alder position remains unfilled for now, but Berrios-Bones’ former campaign manager Kenneth Reveiz ’12 may next assume the role. Reveiz recently won the Democratic Party’s nomination for the upcoming aldermanic election over competing candidate Sarah Miller. Berrios-Bones said he endorsed Reveiz, but added that Miller would be a successful alder because she also cares deeply about Fair Haven.
The alder said his successor would need to work hard to address parking issues, strengthen schools and manage immigration-related issues. This last subject is of special importance to Fair Haven, which has a sizable undocumented immigrant community. During a series of deportation raids in 2007, Fair Haven was one of the neighborhoods most targeted by federal deportation raids.
In 2013, Berrios-Bones ran to be Fair Haven’s alder after the previous incumbent, Gabriel Santiago, stepped down. Before serving as alder, Berrios-Bones was a high school biology teacher and taught in three of the Elm City’s largest public high schools.
He emphasized that he did not decide to leave because he was dissatisfied with his aldermanic experience or his colleagues. Ward 30 Alder Carlton Staggers, who served on the Youth Services Committee with the former alder, also said Berrios-Bones was leaving for “purely personal reasons.”
Ward 13 Alder Rosa Santana, who served on the Youth Services Committee with Berrios-Bones as well, said she admired his commitment to improving the lives of Elm City seniors.
“He was very passionate about our senior centers,” Santana said. “He wanted to make sure they were functioning properly, and that they [were staffed adequately].”
Fair Haven has a population of 18,058, according to City-Data.