Hacibey Catalbasoglu ’19, a sophomore in Davenport College and lifelong New Haven resident, announced plans to run for Ward 1 Alder on Monday evening, making him the first candidate to enter the race.
Catalbasoglu told the News in an interview Monday morning that he grew up attending New Haven public schools and spending time in his father’s Elm City pizza shops, and that his parents and siblings still live in the city. He said his deep connection to New Haven makes his stake in seeing it succeed not just political, but personal.
“I have a stake in this city, and what I mean by that is, regardless of who the alder is, it’s in the best interest of me and my family that the alder does a good job,” Catalbasoglu said. “I have to do a good job for my family and for the people I grew up with.”
Catalbasoglu said he has witnessed a disconnect between Yale and the rest of New Haven during his years in the city. He said many residents feel that Yale is sealed off from the rest of the city, and wagered that most Yale students do not know what the role of an alder is. But Catalbasoglu said he believed his unique position as both a Yale student and a city resident could make him the perfect candidate to bridge the gap between students and the city.
Upholding New Haven’s commitment to being a sanctuary city will be another focus for Catalbasoglu. The son of Muslim Turkish immigrants, Catalbasoglu said the threat of deportation has impacted him and his family personally. He explained that one of his relatives, who lived in New Haven, was deported from the country and that another close family friend would have suffered the same if then-New Haven Mayor John DeStefano had not written a letter to federal government authorities on his behalf.
President Donald Trump’s federal government has threatened sanctuary cities like New Haven with funding cuts should they continue to practice sanctuary policies, such as not cooperating with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. But Catalbasoglu said, even in the face of these threats, his first priority is defending all of the city’s residents.
Another of his goals, if elected, will be to support New Haven’s small businesses. Catalbasoglu said his father, Kadir Catalbasoglu, supported his family by operating pizza shops in the Elm City. Kadir currently owns Pizza at the Brick Oven on the corner of Howe and Elm Streets. In an explanation of his vision sent to the News, Catalbasoglu called small businesses “the heart of the New Haven community” and said he would work to make sure small business owners have the resources necessary to make their businesses succeed.
One criticism of past Ward 1 alders is that many have not stayed in New Haven for long. Many Yale students who are elected to the alder position leave after one or two terms to pursue jobs or graduate degrees outside of New Haven. But Catalbasoglu emphasized that he was in New Haven to stay.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “I was born here, I grew up here, I spent 19 years of my life here, my parents live here, my siblings go to school here. I’m in it for the long haul.”
No other candidates have publicly committed themselves to the Ward 1 race. Incumbent Ward 1 Alder Sarah Eidelson ’12 told the News Saturday that she was not yet sure whether she would run for another term.
Eight of Yale’s 12 residential colleges are located within Ward 1.