Mayor Toni Harp and other newly elected city officials had more than just the new year to celebrate on Monday — Jan. 1 was also inauguration day in New Haven.
The public inauguration ceremony at Hill Regional High School marked the official beginning of Harp’s third term as mayor and of the 30 alders’ two-year terms. The alders sworn in Monday include Ward 7 Alder Abigail Roth ’90 LAW ’94 and Ward 22 Alder Jeanette Morrison, as well as newly elected Ward 1 Alder Hacibey Catalbasoglu ’19 and Ward 21 Alder Steven Winter ’11, who will serve as independents, diversifying the previously all-Democratic Board of Alders.
During her inauguration speech on Monday, Harp expressed dismay at recent legislative and administrative actions at the federal level, which she said have exacerbated wealth inequality and threatened healthcare, education and voting rights.
“The historic, distinguished city we serve is strong and stable, but storm clouds loom on its horizon,” she said. “Many reliable features of the world around us are shifting, most notably at the state and federal levels of government, upon which New Haven depends so heavily.”
Harp compared the current state of American politics to the turmoil of 1968, when the Vietnam War and civil rights protests divided the country. She called upon the New Haven community to follow “passionate voices of justice,” such as those of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, both of whom were assassinated 50 years ago.
“In a community like this one, there is the extraordinary ability to pool resources, assemble talent, and direct a collective energy toward the common good,” Harp told the hundreds in attendance.
In recent weeks Democratic insiders have speculated that top gubernatorial candidates may look to Harp for a running mate. When asked about the speculation, she has said in a statement to Hearst Connecticut Media that she feels honored to be considered but is currently focusing on her duties as mayor.
For Catalbasoglu, the youngest member on the Board of Alders, it was an honor just to be sworn in.
“I’m looking forward to a productive two years representing my constituents,” Catalbasoglu said.
Alongside Harp and the 30 alders, City Clerk Michael Smart, Board of Education member Edward Joyner and newly elected Probate Judge Clifton Graves Jr. were sworn in on Monday.
On Jan. 2, at its first meeting, the new Board of Alders will elect a president and president pro tempore. The board will also discuss whether or not Harp should receive a $10,000 raise for her third term in office.
Ashna Gupta | firstname.lastname@example.org