One thing’s for sure: Whatever happens on election night, the Democrats aren’t going to lose control of New Haven’s Board of Alders anytime soon.
Only two of the city’s 30 aldermanic races — the races in Ward 6 and Ward 18 — will be contested by a Republican candidate in the upcoming general election.
In Ward 6, Republican candidate John Carlson, a fourth-grade teacher at John Winthrop Elementary School in Bridgeport, is running against Democratic incumbent Dolores Colón ’91. In Ward 18, Republican candidate Joshua Van Hoesen, the lead software engineer for Accounting Systems Integrators in North Haven, is running against incumbent Salvatore DeCola. Both candidates were endorsed by the New Haven Republican Town Committee in late July.
The Republican Party has not had a single representative on the Board of Alders in six years.
“[Carlson and Hoesen] are at least trying to get the word out that it’s not just a one-party town,” said Jonathan Wharton, chairman of the New Haven Republican Town Committee.
Of all the wards in New Haven, President Donald Trump accumulated the most votes in Ward 18, where he received 830 out of 1,966 votes. The ward also holds the highest number of registered Republicans in New Haven — 287.
Despite the ward’s Republican presence, DeCola said he feels optimistic about the upcoming election.
“I feel good about [the election],” he said. “I’m out campaigning and informing people what I’ve been doing for the past six years.”
Hoesen is campaigning against a Democratic candidate backed by UNITE HERE — the umbrella organization that represents Yale’s unions. Despite these difficult-to-overcome odds, Hoesen said in an Oct. 11 “Dateline New Haven” interview that since Morris Cove and its ward are small, the important fact is the number of people “who believe you are going to be the best representation for [alder]” rather than “the number of people backing you.”
In the interview, Hoesen said that most of his campaign so far has involved communicating and listening to his potential constituents. He has noticed that many residents believe that their taxes are not being used effectively, especially when it comes to the police presence in Morris Cove.
On the other hand, DeCola, a retired postal carrier, said he has been campaigning on his “track record” and achievements over the past six years. He said he has improved the streets, helped connect his constituents to local cops and taken a lead on environmental issues. However, despite his desire to win, he said he is glad that Hoesen is running against him.
“In a way, [Hoesen] running is a positive thing,” DeCola said. “People feel like they have a choice.”
In Ward 6, challenger Carlson is running against Colón, who has represented the ward since 2001. Carlson has focused a majority of his campaign on improving the “quality of life” in his ward, he said. He wants to fix streets and improve safety measures by creating speed humps and raised walkways.
In addition, as an educator and a parent, Carlson said he hopes to focus on supporting children’s programs, giving them “something constructive” to do.
“I plan on helping the local Boy Scout Troop 4288 and the Marine Cadets on Woodward grow and get more volunteers and supplies,” he said.
He added that he wants to reopen a little league baseball team, continue to support the local Boys and Girls’ Club and improve the New Haven Public School system.
As an alder for over 15 years, Colón has helped protect affordable housing, while also helping ameliorate uninhabitable conditions at the Church Street South housing complex. In addition, she has been instrumental in helping New Haven residents get hired at Yale and Yale New Haven Hospital, according to the New Haven Independent.
Colón did not respond to request for comment.
Despite her successes, Carlson believes Colón has not been able to keep up the quality of the streets and roads in Ward 6 — essential jobs for an alder.
“My opponent has been in for 14 plus years, so she’s had ample time to do anything she planned on doing,” Carlson said.
The last Republican representative on the Board of Alders was Arlene DePino, who was Ward 18 alder for more than a decade.
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