Kenneth Reveiz ’12 was sworn in as the alder of Ward 14 last Monday at City Hall, marking the end of a turbulent transition to replace former Ward 14 Alder Santiago Berrios-Bones, who stepped down in late January.
Reveiz, who was a literature major, has been active in the city’s political sphere since graduating from Yale five years ago. He worked on the campaigns of Ward 14’s last two alders, Berrios-Bones and Gabriel Santiago, and is an organizer for advocacy group New Haven Rising. Reveiz will now serve the remaining eight months of Berrios-Bones’ term before the next aldermanic election in November.
Reveiz said his main focus over the coming months will be to improve job opportunities for residents of his ward.
“New Haven is in a jobs crisis, and I will continue pushing for good jobs for Fair Haven and a high quality of life for our neighborhood,” he said.
Reveiz’s rise to the alder position was marked by controversy. Late last month, he won the Democratic nomination over longtime Fair Haven resident Sarah Miller
’03 in a vote among members of Fair Haven’s Democratic Town Committee. But some in the ward, including Miller, say that Reveiz and Mark Firla, who co-chair the committee, removed some people from the committee and added others in order to secure a pro-Reveiz majority prior to the vote.
Reveiz claims that these changes to the committee’s membership were made to give seats on the committee to more active community members and to remove less active members. But Miller said that several of the appointees, such as a young man who described himself to her as “completely apolitical,” are not active community members.
John Lugo, founding member of the local activist group Unidad Latina en Acción, said he found fault with the way in which Reveiz rose to his current position.
“I’m upset with him because the way he got elected is not the right way; it was corrupt,” Lugo said. “We talk about democracy in this country … but pointing a finger at someone and saying they’re elected isn’t democracy.”
Lugo also worried that Reveiz did not have a deep enough connection with the residents of the ward, and explained that Reveiz has only lived in the ward for several months. He added that many immigrants and undocumented residents in Reveiz’s ward had a hard time creating a relationship with the ward’s previous two alders, whom Reveiz had a hand in having elected. Both of these alders resigned before the ends of their terms.
Lugo said he worries that Reveiz’ appointment represents a continuation of a line of alders who have been distant from the ward’s most vulnerable residents.
“In Latin America, there is an expression, ‘he came in a parachute,’” Lugo said. “[Reveiz] is pretending he has lived in that neighborhood for a long time, but he doesn’t know that neighborhood and I don’t know how he’s going to do his job.”
Reveiz said he would work hard to build a strong relationship between ward residents and himself, adding that fostering unity was important.
Reveiz’s opponent in the Ward 14 Democratic primary, Sarah Miller, said she had no comment on his appointment. However, Miller told the News in a February interview that she would consider running against Reveiz in the upcoming November election if she felt that he did not do a satisfactory job.
18,058 residents live in Fair Haven, according to City-Data.