Mackenzie Hawkins

Mayor-elect Justin Elicker SOM ’10 FES ’10 — after trouncing three-term incumbent Mayor Toni Harp in last Tuesday’s election — announced his transition team on Friday, as he moves from politics to policy and gears up to hold New Haven’s top office.

Elicker a former alder and nonprofit executive, has invited the public to participate in the transition process and recruited a team — headed by co-chairs State Rep. Robyn Porter, Kica Matos and Sarah Miller — that reflects the city’s diversity.

After a decisive primary election victory, Elicker came out on top in the general contest by a 2-to-1 margin, following a campaign that featured bitter rhetoric and public blows. In the weeks leading up to and days after last week’s vote, scores of local leaders called for unity as Elicker prepares to be the Elm City’s 51st mayor. For his part, Elicker has told New Haveners that he wants his transition and tenure to reflect the transparency that characterized his campaign.

“There were a number of priorities that we focused on to determine who was on the transition team,” Elicker said at Friday’s announcement. “And as you can imagine, with so many people in this city that have so much expertise and come from many, many different backgrounds, it’s hard to pick the right team — and I don’t think there’s every the perfect match but I think we’ve come pretty darn close.”

His team, he continued, will combine the spirit of grassroots activism with the diligent work of policymaking. Over the coming weeks, Elicker’s camp will focus on eleven policy areas that span the municipal budget, government transparency, education, housing, immigration, jobs and public safety, among others.

The three women at the transition team’s helm bring experience and expertise to the table. Miller founded New Haven Public Schools Advocates, Porter represents New Haven in the state legislature and co-chairs Connecticut’s Labor Committee and Matos is the Vera Institute Director of the Center on Immigration and Justice and former city Community Services Administrator.

In a speech on Friday, Matos lauded the transition team’s racial diversity and then turned to the policy concentration list.

“This is everything that I could dream of in terms of things as a community that we can do to come together and really think about our future,” Matos said. “Not just for us, but for future generations.”

The team includes two dozen individuals representing a cross-section of Elm City life. On the legislative side, Elicker recruited Ward 26 Alder Darryl Brackeen, Jr., a supporter from the start, and Ward 27 Alder and Majority Leader Richard Furlow, who supported Harp in the primary but backed Elicker in the general. Other policy advisors and leaders include Mohit Agrawal GRD ’20, who chairs the city’s independent Financial Review & Audit Commission; Karen DuBois-Walton, who directs the city’s housing authority and Will Ginsberg, who runs the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.

The transition coalition also includes local labor, community activism and faith leaders. Local 34 President Laurie Kennington ’01 and New Haven Works executive Melissa Mason have joined the transition effort along with local activists including Newhallville Community Management Team Chair and One City New Haven founder Kim Harris and Westville Village Renaissance Alliance Director Lizzy Donius. Elicker’s group also boasts Rev. Kelcy Steele of Dixwell’s Varick AME Church and Bonita Grubbs, executive director of Christian Community Action, an organization in the Hill neighborhood.

Addressing the press on Friday, Porter commended the team’s diversity and underscored the need to involve all Elm City residents in the transition process.

“We have captured the diversity and inclusion piece of this,” Porter said. “But for me, it’s about a sense of belonging and making sure that every person in this city feels that they belong in this transition that we’re about to make with a new establishment and a new mayor … I believe the people closest to the pain need to be closest to the power.”

Elicker has also invited the community to contribute to the conversation on his new transition website and at two public events in coming weeks. Gage Frank, Elicker’s campaign manager turned transition team project manager, told the News that the mayor-elect will also announce dates for coffee chats at which he will answer questions and hear from his soon-to-be constituents.

Members of the community are invited to attend transition events on Saturday, Nov. 16, at 9 a.m. and Sunday, Dec. 8, at 2 p.m. Both events will be hosted by High School in the Community, which is located at 175 Water St. Residents are also invited to offer their thoughts and apply for executive positions at JustinElicker.com.

Mackenzie Hawkins | mackenzie.hawkins@yale.edu