The Aldermanic Affairs Committee of the New Haven Board of Alders met Monday evening to confirm several appointments to Mayor Toni Harp’s administration.
Six appointees were considered for reappointment, while eight were screened for their first mayoral appointment in city government. Candidates were considered for nine different committees, including the Commission on New Haven Youth, the Food Policy Council and the Housing Authority, among others.
Of the 14 nominations, 12 were confirmed: six reappointments and six new appointments. The board postponed giving a recommendation to Erik Brown, a nominee for the Cultural Affairs Commission, until alders have a chance to further deliberate about Brown’s qualifications and potential ability to contribute to the commission. Khalil Ivy, nominated as a youth representative to the Commission on New Haven Youth, was absent from the meeting and will be called in for another hearing.
Confirmed appointees will serve two-, four-, or five-year terms, depending on their role.
The majority of appointees were briefly questioned during the two-hour hearing, answering mostly procedural questions from the alders. At one point, however, some alders expressed general disapproval at the current Commission on New Haven Youth, which spurred more substantive questions for the nominees hoping to serve on the commission.
The first of the youth commission nominees was current member Cheryl Gomes. Seeking reappointment, she faced a series of questions from Ward 13 Alder Rosa Santana, who expressed discontent at the general progress of the commission, as well as its ability to follow the charter’s protocol.
“Unfortunately, the understanding of the youth commission is that they take their guidance from the Youth Services Department, which is not true and not what the charter says,” Santana said. “So I am trying to ensure that they understand that they are following procedures.”
Further, Santana asked Gomes to explain why she did not attend any of the youth commission meetings. Gomes defended her absences, explaining that her work hours conflicted with the meetings.
Santana and Gomes came to the conclusion that the committee should hold a workshop for the youth commission in order to clarify procedure and maximize the efficiency of the commission.
Donald McAulay Jr. was also questioned for appointment to the youth commission. McAulay, a New Haven native, is a youth development coordinator for New Haven Public Schools. He impressed the alders with his ideas for the commission, such as after-school programs, extracurricular involvement and improved student-teacher relationships.
“Our goal for the youth commission is for us to first understand the needs of the kids and understand the experience that they are going through: To understand what it means to be 14 or 15 in some of the schools,” McAulay said. “Some of the high schools are metal detector schools, more violent, with more inappropriate language. And as someone who matriculated through the same schooling system, I want to give kids the same opportunity I had.”
McAulay used his own success story to prove that youth can succeed in New Haven public schools. A graduate of James Hillhouse High School, McAulay received a master’s degree from Troy University and is currently working on a doctorate at the University of Connecticut.
McAulay said his success demonstrate that encouragement from school administrators to students is effective — and not just meaningless praise.
“It’s not this grandiose thing that we make up,” McAulay said.
Alder Santana expressed delight with the appointment, noting the McAulay will be a “great asset” to the committee.
After the hearing, the alders proceeded to deliberate, which resulted in a chain of new appointments from the four alders.
All six reappointments, including Gomes, were also confirmed by the alders.
In an interview with the News, Santana expressed leniency toward those who cannot attend regularly scheduled committee meetings.
“Sometimes the meeting time is not the right time for [members]. Then I’ll suggest that they speak to the chair of the committee, or maybe a call-in,” Santana said. “Something to help them reinvigorate attending the meeting in some form or fashion.”
The maximum time that a person can serve on a committee in City Hall is 10 years.
Nick Tabio | firstname.lastname@example.org