While the vast majority of alders in the 2018–2019 term ran for and won reelection to the local legislature in November, six chose to end their time on the board, meaning that new faces now comprise 20 percent of 2020’s class of alders.
Ward 1’s Hacibey Catalbasoglu, Ward 5’s David Reyes, Ward 6’s Dolores Colon, Ward 8’s Brenda Harris, Ward 14’s Kenneth Reveiz and Ward 30’s Michelle Sepulveda completed their two-year terms and received an emotional farewell from colleagues at the end of 2019. Their replacements — half of whom ran uncontested — are Eli Sabin ’22, Kampton Singh, Carmen Rodriguez, Ellen Cupo, Paola Acosta and Honda Smith, respectively. All six are Democrats, as are the 24 returning members of the board.
“I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues to make sure New Haven is a city that provides opportunity, justice, and hope to every one of our residents,” Sabin told the News in a written statement. “I’m ready to work as hard as I can to build more affordable housing in our city, provide more job opportunities to local residents, and ensure our kids get the high-equality education they deserve.”
The six new alders bring a variety of prior experience in the Elm City to their posts. Sabin, who has served the city on the Homeless Advisory Commission, is a New Haven native and Grace Hopper sophomore who handily defeated Republican candidate Chris Marcisz in November. Singh, a property manager, has been a resident of the Hill neighborhood for 30 years and formerly served as Ward 5’s co-chair, on New Haven’s Fair Rent Commission, and in the Livable City Initiative, according to the New Haven Independent. He won in a landslide against Independent candidate Germano Kimbro.
Rodriguez, a clinical receptionist at Yale New Haven Hospital who has served on her ward’s Democratic Party Committee, is the third of the six to have run a contested election. She bested Republican candidate John Carlson, who has vied for aldermanic and state seats in the past. The Republican Town Committee endorsed one other candidate: Josh Van Hoesen, who lost to incumbent Darryl J. Brackeen Jr. in Ward 26’s election.
Three newcomers gained their seats in uncontested races. Cupo, a New Haven native, works as a registrar in Yale’s Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and LGBT Studies, and is active in LOCAL 34, Yale’s clerical and technical workers’ union. Acosta hails from Puerto Rico and has organized relief efforts following Hurricane Maria in 2017, collecting supplies at Quinnipiac River Park, according to the New Haven Register. Smith boasts three decades of experience in city government, most recently as a Department of Public Works public-space inspector. She initially planned to challenge then-incumbent Alder Sepulveda, who ultimately decided not to run for reelection.
These six will earn around $2,000 per year on the board — making the position of alder essentially voluntary. At the reception for outgoing alders, Former Ward 5 Alder and Board President and current state Banking Commissioner Jorge Perez acknowledged the sacrifice inherent in city council membership but underscored that public service is an invaluable enterprise.
“At the end of the day, to see that you were part of a process to make life a little better for someone who needed help … is the ultimate payment,” he told attendees, which included most members of the board as well as other city officials such as then-Mayor Toni Harp and City Clerk Michael Smart.
The new alders and their 24 returning colleagues will serve two-year terms ending on Dec. 31, 2021.
Mackenzie Hawkins | firstname.lastname@example.org