Ward 1 Alder Hacibey Catalbasoglu ’19, a lifelong Elm City resident and recent graduate of Yale College, will not seek a second term on the Board of Alders.
Catalbasoglu shared on his personal Facebook page on Saturday that he would not run in this fall’s elections for another term representing Ward 1 — the city’s only Yale-majority district — in the city’s legislative branch. Catalbasoglu, who was elected in an unopposed race in 2017, was a junior in Davenport College when he assumed office. During both his campaign and his tenure as Alder, Catalbasoglu emphasized his own connection to the local community on the stump and made bridging his two communities — Yale and the city of New Haven — a calling card and a top priority. Eli Sabin ’22, also an Elm City native, confirmed he is considering a run.
“I hope to have set a precedent where the next Ward 1 Alder will follow in my footsteps and realize that Yale has so much to offer to New Haven, monetary and otherwise, like intellectual capital,” Catalbasoglu told the News. “The Alder from Ward 1 should obviously be … someone from New Haven … and someone who makes an effort to be available.”
In his Facebook post, Catalbasoglu outlined three updates and his plans for the future. He will begin graduate school at Columbia University in January of 2020 and remain in New Haven to serve as Alder until then. Catalabasoglu had previously told the News in January that he was likely to seek another term as Ward 1 Alder to continue the initiatives he had begun, especially having established himself among his colleagues.
But Catalbasoglu told the News in an interview that running for another term would have necessitated that he remain in New Haven for at least the duration of the two additional years. Weighing the outcomes, he ultimately chose graduate school at Columbia, in New York, and to decline running for a second time.
At Columbia, Catalbasoglu will pursue a master’s degree in public administration. At Yale, he was a political science major and, early in his time on campus, a member of the heavyweight crew team.
The Board of Alders is the city’s legislative arm and comprises 30 members — one to represent each of the city’s 30 Wards. New Haven has an entirely part-time Board. The positions are voluntary and unpaid. Ward 1 includes eight of Yale’s 14 residential colleges and all of Old Campus. The remaining six colleges are in Ward 22, which primarily covers the neighborhood of Dixwell and is represented by longtime Alder Jeanette Morrison. Morrison has no affiliation with Yale.
Catalbasoglu’s election in 2017 extended two robust traditions with respect to the Ward 1 seat. Most recent Alders have been affiliates of Yale College who sought their positions while they were students at Yale — the position is so closely tied to the undergraduate population that it is often referred to colloquially as the “Yale Alder”. Catalbasoglu’s immediate predecessor, Sarah Eidelson ’12, first won the seat in 2013 after graduation after a failed bid for the position in 2011, and served two terms before declining to run again. Although Eidelson was not a native of New Haven, there has also been strong precedent for residents-turned-students to serve on the Board of Alders.
Catalbasoglu told the News that he did not currently have any thoughts or predictions on who should run. He also said that he does not intend to have heavy involvement in the race and claimed that he had no desire to “impose” his views on the Ward’s voters, seeing as his graduation makes him unable to speak directly for Yale students. Still, he told the News that he strongly believes that the next Ward 1 Alder should also be a resident of New Haven.
Sabin, like Catalbasoglu, was a resident of New Haven prior to his matriculation at Yale. In an interview after Catalbasoglu’s announcement, Sabin told the News that he was “seriously considering running,” and cited his hometown connection as a primary credential.
Sabin, a graduate of the Hopkins School, has worked with Catalbasoglu and was recently approved by the Board to sit on the Homeless Advisory Commission.
“[Catalbasoglu] did a great job as Alder, and New Haven will miss him,” Sabin told the News. “His time on the Board has demonstrated why it’s so important that the Ward 1 Alder is someone who grew up in New Haven and who has really invested in getting to know the city.”
The Board of Alders represents New Haven’s approximately 130,000-person population.
Angela Xiao | firstname.lastname@example.org