Lukas Flippo, Senior Photographer

On Tuesday, New Haveners will head to the polls to vote for their mayor and representatives on the Board of Alders and Board of Education, marking the end of a campaign cycle that featured heated general election challenges.

This year, the local Republican Party has made a significant push to get its candidates on the ballot. At the top of the lineup is public school teacher and local party chair John Carlson, the first Republican to run for mayor since 2007. Five of the city’s 30 wards will also have contested races for the Board of Alders, the majority of which are located along the border with East Haven. Two Yalies will also be on the ballot for alder, running uncontested — Eli Sabin ’22 in Ward 7 and Alex Guzhnay ’24 in Ward 1.

Connecticut law allows eligible residents to register to vote at any time on Election Day, which means that those not already registered still have the chance to do so on Tuesday. Same-day registration will take place at City Hall, which is located at 165 Church St.

“On a local level, we’re working on things that really affect people’s lives on a day to day basis, so I think that’s the biggest reason why folks should come out to vote,” Sabin said. “And in terms of Yale students, I think that it’s important for students to recognize that they’re part of the New Haven community now that they’re in town and they should own that, not just by voting but also by getting involved, volunteering.” 

Yale students can register to vote under their current New Haven address, whether that is a residential college, a hall on Old Campus or their off-campus housing. The only required documents are proof of identity and proof of residence — Guzhnay ’24 said that for the latter, students could bring mail addressed to them at their residential colleges.

Guzhnay added that students planning to register on Election Day should get to City Hall as early as possible, because the lines are likely to increase at around 4 or 5 p.m. as people leave work across the Elm City.

The city government has released a formal list of polling places for Yale students this year, depending on their place of residence. 

Students living in Berkeley, Branford, Davenport, Grace Hopper, Jonathan Edwards, Pierson, Saybrook and Trumbull, or anywhere on Old Campus, will vote at the Ward 1 polling station, which is located at the New Haven Free Public Library at 133 Elm St. 

The remaining colleges — Benjamin Franklin, Ezra Stiles, Morse, Pauli Murray, Silliman and Timothy Dwight — are all located in Ward 22, where the polling station is at the Wexler-Grant school on 55 Foote St. This race is also uncontested, as incumbent Democrat Jeanette Morrison prepares to hold the seat for another term.

The only exception is for students living in Rosenfeld Hall, also known as the “annex” for Timothy Dwight College, who will vote in Ward 7. Their polling station is at the New Haven Hall of Records at 200 Orange Street.

Guzhnay and Sabin have been collaborating with student organizations, such as the Yale College Democrats and Every Vote Counts, in order to encourage Yalies to register to vote and volunteer for campaigns; these two undergraduate candidates held a town hall with Every Vote Counts last Tuesday to discuss the importance of local government in New Haven.

Mayoral election: the incumbent and the Republican challenger 

Voters from all wards of New Haven will choose their pick for mayor at the polls on Tuesday, where a Republican will be on the ballot for the top City Hall seat for the first time in over a decade. 

Carlson’s campaign has gained a considerable amount of traction in the city since it was announced this July. According to Oct. 10 campaign finance records, Carlson received $12,882 in donations from 304 different individuals last quarter, slightly less than one-fourth of Elicker’s fundraised amount of $58,101 from 524 individuals. 

Carlson is also the first Republican candidate to participate in the New Haven Democracy Fund public financing program, which Elicker is also taking part in during his re-election bid. The Democracy Fund matches donations and provides a $20,000 grant for candidates who abide by fundraising restrictions and participate in a public debate.

“I feel it’s important to bring two parties — two working parties — back to the city so that we have a true democracy,” Carlson told the News in September. “A one-party rule is not good for the city. Almost all of the seats go completely unchallenged, and I want to change that.”

On Oct. 19, the two mayoral candidates faced off in a heated debate in fulfillment of the Democracy Fund requirement, clashing on issues of crime, public education, environmental regulation, mask mandates and affordable housing.

Throughout his campaign, Carlson has focused his platform around a push for an increased police presence in the city and the reform of the Board of Education structure through the elimination of certain administrative positions. He has also shared his opposition to Elicker’s vaccine and mask mandates, while also criticizing the renewal of the Tweed airport lease.

Meanwhile, Elicker has responded by pointing to the successes of his first term as mayor, such as his response to the pandemic and his work encouraging economic growth in the city.

“When you think about what we’ve been able to accomplish, not just around the pandemic, but getting additional funding that’s been talked about for years with PILOT, Union Station, the Re-Entry Welcome Center,” Elicker said in his final statement at the debate, “We are making big things happen in New Haven. And I hope that you support me as we move this city forward.”

Board of Alders races to watch on Election Day 

Beyond the mayoral election, there are a number of contests for seats on the Board of Alders that will be closely watched by residents across New Haven on Tuesday.

The majority of the multi-candidate Board of Alders races are located on the eastern side of the city — significantly, this is the area closest to Tweed New Haven Airport, with many challenging Republican candidates criticizing the expansion of the airport.

First, in Quinnipiac Meadows’ Ward 11, Republican Gail Roundtree is challenging incumbent Democrat Renee Haywood. In Ward 13, which covers Fair Haven heights, three names are on the ballot — eight-term incumbent Democrat Rosa Santana, Republican Deborah Reyes and Green Party candidate Patricia Kane. In Ward 17 on the East Shore, a retired New Haven Public Schools principal and Democrat Salvatore Punzo will face off against special education teacher Republican AnneMarie Rivera-Berrios.

According to Guzhnay, one of the most anticipated races will be the face-off between incumbent Democrat Salvatore DeCola and Republican Steven Orosco in Ward 18, the last of the contested east-side elections. 

 “There’s been I think some fair but also some pretty unfair criticism around Tweed,” Guzhnay said on the Ward 18 election. “That’s a race to watch because Orosco turns out a decent number of people, and they’re one of the wards in New Haven that in 2020, in the 2016 election had a lot more people vote for Trump.”

DeCola has served as alder in Ward 18 since 2011, and was a key force in passing the 43-year new lease for Tweed through the Board of Alders this year, a fact that his opponent has latched on to throughout the campaign cycle. Orosco is also openly unvaccinated, and opposes vaccine mandates. 

Lastly, a heated campaign has taken place in the Upper Westville and Beverly Hills neighborhoods that make up Ward 26 between incumbent Democrat Darryl Brackeen Jr. and Republican Joshua Van Hoesen, who ran against Brackeen in 2019 as well.

Despite identifying as a Republican, Van Hoesen has made an effort to separate himself from the Trump administration. He voted for Joe Biden in 2020, yet remains with the party due to his belief in “old-school Republican” values. 

Sabin and Guzhnay said that they have been knocking on doors and making calls for the Democratic candidates in these contested wards throughout the weeks leading up to the election. 

“[These Democratic candidates] are all people who have years of experience giving back to their community,” Guzhnay said. “I’m just happy to be supporting them, and they’re doing the same towards my candidacy. It’s just all about creating a board that works together … to address some of the biggest issues here in New Haven.” 

Polling stations will be open on Tuesday, November 2 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

Correction, Nov. 2: The original article stated that Brackeen had refused to debate Van Housen in person, citing an Oct. 25 article from the New Haven Independent. Since that piece was published, both Brackeen and Van Housen participated in individual town-halls with the Independent on WNHH FM’s show “Dateline New Haven”.

Clarification, Nov. 2: The article has been updated to clarify that students living at Rosenfeld Hall fall under Ward 7. 


Sylvan Lebrun is a Managing Editor of the Yale Daily News. She previously served as City Editor, and covered City Hall and nonprofits and social services in the New Haven area. She is a junior in Pauli Murray College majoring in Comparative Literature.