Six weeks out from New Haven’s general election, Ward 1 hopeful Eli Sabin ’22 is building a campaign on alleviating poverty and improving civic engagement in his hometown.
The Elm City native announced his bid for the Board of Alders in June after current Ward 1 Alder Hacibey Catalbasoglu ’19 announced he would not run for another term. Since then, Sabin has been endorsed by local politicians and groups, including New Haven Rep. Robyn Porter, Connecticut Young Democrats, Working Families Party, Run for Something and the New Haven Democratic Town Committee, among others. If elected, Sabin would represent the overwhelmingly Yale ward — which encompasses eight of the University’s 14 residential colleges as well as Old Campus — in New Haven’s legislative body. Looking ahead to Nov. 5, Sabin is focusing his policy platform on three main planks: housing, jobs and voting.
“I’m running because I grew up in New Haven, and I have a really strong belief in the importance and value of public service,” Sabin told the News. “[Running for alder] is such a great opportunity to get more involved in city policy making and get to work on the issues that I really care about.”
Affordable housing is one of Sabin’s top priorities. In an interview with the News, he emphasized that 41 percent of Elm City residents are rent-burdened, meaning that they spend at least 30 percent of their income on housing every month. He added that inclusionary zoning policies — municipal ordinances that require a given share of new housing construction to be affordable to those with below-median income levels — must be instituted to alleviate housing crisis.
“There are thousands of families in the city who are struggling to decide whether to pay rent, or to pay for heating or electricity bills, or put food on the table, [or] buy back-to-school supplies for theirs kids,” Sabin told the News in an interview. “That presents a lot of really big challenges for working families in New Haven.”
Sabin also touted his work on New Haven’s Homeless Advisory Commission and contributions to a Homeless Persons’ Bill of Rights, which is currently before the Board of Alders. While this bill establishes standards for city government interactions with New Haven’s homeless population and calls for the creation of a public bathroom on the Green, it doesn’t include a provision for the right to housing, Sabin said. He added that while he fully supports the right to housing, he would want to better understand how such a right would tangibly affect New Haven before committing to the policy.
In an interview with the News, Sabin also emphasized that New Haven should become a “center of the regional economy” by investing in mass public transit and workforce training. He added that New Haven should implement same-day voter registration in all elections. Currently, same-day registration is available in general elections but not primaries. If elected, the Ward 1 hopeful said he would also push for automatic voter registration, which would prompt all who are eligible to register to vote whenever they interact with city government.
“The more people we have involved in the community and who feel like, when they show up to the polls, their voice matters, the better we are going to be going forward,” Sabin told the News. “The city benefits when more people are engaged.”
Sabin’s platform also includes support for a sanctuary city ordinance to codify protections for New Haven’s immigrant population. According to the CT Mirror, Harp recently passed an executive order establishing protections for the undocumented but refrained from officially designating New Haven a sanctuary city.
In the past years, Catalbasoglu has also advocated for strengthening the immigrant protection views. In an interview with the News, Catalbasoglu said the next alder should set their own agenda and added that he would be satisfied as long as that agenda improves the town and gown relationship.
“As long as they work to bridge the Yale-New Haven divide, as long as they use their energy for good, I’m perfectly content,” Catalbasoglu said.
In addition to housing, jobs, voting and immigration, Sabin’s platform touches on police accountability. Sabin told the News that he would like to strengthen New Haven’s existing practices of community policing and see the full implementation of the Civilian Review Board, a body designed to investigate and address police brutality. The alder candidate also said he is “generally supportive” of disarming Yale police and called for further discussion among New Haven and Yale community members about whether Yale police should carry weapons. Following a YPD-involved shooting last spring, Yalies and New Haveners alike called for accountability in the forms of updated boundaries and potential disarmament of Yale’s police force.
“Yale has no business shooting at New Haven civilians after the gentrification and economic devastation [it has caused],” Ashtan Towles ’19 said.
Sabin automatically advanced to the general election after an uncontested Democratic primary. He will face off against Republican candidate Chris Marcisz on Nov. 5.
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