Mayor Toni Harp has endorsed Haci Catalbasoglu ’19, a New Haven native and independent candidate who is running uncontested for Ward 1 alder.
Through his campaign efforts, Catalbasoglu has obtained endorsements from groups such as the Yale College Republicans and the Connecticut Young Democrats. In a statement about the endorsement, Harp expressed hope that Catalbasoglu will bring Yale students closer to New Haven city policies — one of the main focuses of his aldermanic campaign.
“Coming from two communities — town and gown — Hacibey is well-equipped to give back to New Haven as an alder and bring Yale students into closer contact with the rest of New Haven. I am thrilled to endorse him,” Harp said in a statement.
Catalbasoglu said he was honored and excited to receive the mayor’s endorsement. He told the News that his team has been in contact with the mayor “very long time” and that his relationship with the her goes beyond just an alder–mayor relationship.
“She came to my house when I was a freshman [in college],” he said. “She is more than just a mayor. She is someone I look up to.”
At the moment, all New Haven alders are Democrats. If both Ward 6 and Ward 18 — the only two wards with Republican candidates — remain Democratic, Catalbasoglu, running unaffiliated, will become the minority leader on the Board of Alders. Serving as minority leader, Catalbasoglu would be able to meet with the mayor once a week and choose which aldermanic committees he would like to serve on.
On Thursday afternoon, Catalbasoglu held a “policy party” on Cross Campus to talk with students about their ideas for Yale–New Haven policies and to encourage students to vote in the election.
Sarah Strober ’20, one of the heads of research for the Catalbasoglu campaign, helped organize the event. She expressed concern with the lack of voter turnout in Ward 1, considering that only 46 people from Ward 1 voted in September’s primary election, the lowest turnout in the city. Strober said she hopes more students vote in the Nov. 7 election.
“We can show the city that we are a substantial group of people who care about where we are living,” Strober said.
In addition, Strober said that not getting a significant number of votes would decrease Catalbasoglu’s “legitimacy” on the Board of Alders, especially since many New Haveners already believe Ward 1 is “unengaged.”
In the center of the table on Cross Campus, Catalbasoglu’s team set up a “Your Ideas” board with pens and sticky notes, encouraging students and others to write their own ideas for Catalbasoglu’s two years as alder.
While some ideas such as a “lower drinking age” may not be within an alder’s purviews, others such as “better, more affordable housing” and “more Yale-sponsored job opportunities for at-risk New Haven residents” could become part of Catalbasoglu’s agenda.
The policy party did not attract only Yale students.
Justin Farmer, a candidate for city council in Hamden and a student at Southern Connecticut State University, said he came to the party because he was interested in the “energy” of the event. He noted that there are not many “young people” in politics and said he was excited to learn about Catalbasoglu’s campaign.
Catalbasoglu told the News that one of his main goals as alder will be to “bring forth to the attention of Yalies problems that face our city.”
“A lot of people are very detached from city policies,” he said.
There are 30 members on the Board of Alders.
Ashna Gupta | email@example.com