With ample time to spare and few actors in play, mayoral candidate Marcus Paca is reaching out to Elm City political organizations such as the Board of Alders and the Democratic Town Committee to garner support in advance of the election.
Paca, who served as the city’s labor relations director until he was terminated last April, announced his candidacy for November’s mayoral election less than two weeks ago. Paca said he wants to create a grassroots campaign that motivates younger voters to participate in political discourse, and emphasized that he recognizes the importance of winning the support of New Haven’s legislative representatives. He added that he hopes those who are currently in office are receptive to change and new ideas.
“I believe New Haven is yearning for a vibrant and fresh perspective of leadership that I will be bringing to this city,” Paca said in a statement. “I look forward to earning their support and having an opportunity to work in a meaningful way in the best interest of all New Haveners.”
One source of support from the Democratic establishment comes from Gary Stewart, the Democratic Town Committee co-chair for Ward 24. Stewart said he has both professional and personal relationships with Paca that began during Paca’s bid for Ward 24 alder in 2009.
Stewart highlighted the importance for Paca of earning the support of the Democratic Town Committee and the Board of Alders, and added that he characterizes alders as co-executives with the mayor when it comes to handling city affairs.
“I plan on talking to my colleagues there [at the Democratic Town Committee] and my own alder,” Stewart said. “I definitely want to spread the word. But it’s still early so these folks are still in the process of looking at his platform and website.”
Individual Democratic Town Committee members can choose to support certain mayoral candidates, but the committee itself will endorse one contender collectively after vetting him or her, Stewart explained. He added that the committee will most likely announce its endorsement in July.
Most alders interviewed did not have strong opinions about Paca’s entrance into the race. More than half of the 30 alders on the Board of Alders did not respond to calls or emails asking for their opinions on Paca’s declaration of candidacy.
Ward 21 Alder Brenda Foskey-Cyrus said it was too early in the election process for her to say whether she would support Paca or Harp in the election. Ward 19 Alder Alfreda Edwards said she felt the same way, but that she would support the candidate who she felt best addressed important city issues such as improving education and providing affordable housing.
Edwards added that the city needed a mayor who could work at the state level to ensure that the Elm City received enough state funding. Harp and several alders are currently working to secure vital funding from the state that has been put into jeopardy by recent statements from Gov. Dannel Malloy regarding the upcoming state budget.
Ward 22 Alder Jeanette Morrison said she was happy with the work Harp has done to bring the mayor’s office and the Board of Alders closer together and to support the board’s agenda on issues relating to public safety, employment and youth services. For these reasons, Morrison said she would “more than likely” support Harp in the upcoming election.
Still, Morrison said she was happy that Paca “put his hat in the ring,” adding that she likes to see people pushing for what they believe in.
Harp won the 2015 mayoral election with 10 times more votes than the closest challenger.