Two state senators, Gary Winfield and Robyn Porter, spoke about the importance of residents’ participation in the midterm elections at the Newhallville Management Team’s monthly meeting in the Lincoln-Basset school cafeteria Tuesday evening.

The Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven website describes these meetings as “a forum for city representatives, businesses and residents to share information and address neighborhood issues.” Around 20 primarily senior community members attended, some with reports on how they have been working to improve the community and others with questions and concerns they wanted discussed.

“Your vote is your power. You have the power to unseat people in power,” Porter said. “If your votes didn’t matter, then people wouldn’t try to stop you voting.”

In a bid to encourage the attendees to vote Democrat, Winfield referred to the Republican slate as “candidates who don’t understand the communities in which we live.”

Porter also emphasized the importance of voting for Ned Lamont SOM ’80, noting that she could not successfully fight for a $15 minimum wage in the state legislature without a Democratic governor.

“Go to the polls to save our lives, ” Porter said.

Larry Johnson, who attended to make an announcement about a Thanksgiving dinner being held for the homeless in late November, said that while he appreciated the senators’ speeches, he wanted to ensure that they were not going to be this involved in the forums only near election time.

“It’s important that representatives make an effort all year long,” he said.

At the meeting, community residents also discussed the moving of the designated polling stations from the Lincoln-Basset school auditorium to the cafeteria — a larger location where the meeting was held. Attendees welcomed the decision to move the polling station.

Before the senators spoke, Manmeet Colon, the police lieutenant supervising the Newhallville district, reported on her performance since being assigned to Newhallville last month.

The lieutenant reported recent successes, including a 44.5 percent drop in shootings, a 40.7 percent drop in burglaries and no firearm discharges in the area from Sept. 17 to Oct. 14.

The attendees seemed relieved to hear from Colon about how the police were addressing the issue of people “just hanging out” outside liquor stores and stores on Shelton Avenue. “Rolling dice” was also pointed out as a problem in the area. The lieutenant insisted she had “had it” with those who gambled on the streets.

Colon told the News that she “believes she’s had success” in reducing crime since coming to the area, adding that crime reduction “is not an overnight thing.”

Later in the evening, Linda Davis, the city government’s designated neighborhood specialist, pleaded for community members to pick up their leaves.

In an interview with the News, Winfield said that information sharing is the community’s biggest challenge, and praised the management team’s meetings.

“These meetings are always informative and a great opportunity for the community to get involved,” Winfield said.

Johnson, however, noted that “the people who need to be here aren’t,” referring specifically to the absence of the younger members of the Newhallville community at the meeting.

He described drugs as the biggest challenge the community faced.

“Drugs are driving our youths to a state of madness, they’ve lost their feeling for life,” Johnson said.

In an interview with the News, Cynthia Spears, secretary of the Newhallville Community Management team and a lifelong resident of Newhallville, discussed how the “vibrant community has been on the decline” since the closing down of factories in the area and rise in crime in the past few years. Still, she added that team chair Kim Harris is helping revive the community.

“Kim gives us hope,” Spears said. “All people want the same things. We all want our kids to grow up to be productive people in society.”

The Newhallville Management Team will be selecting its 2019 leadership team at next month’s meeting.

Eva Magyar |