Tim Tai, Photography Editor

After four years at the helm of the Elm City, Mayor Justin Elicker is asking New Haveners to re-elect him to a third two-year term.

Monday morning, Elicker, who serves as the city’s 51st mayor, was the first candidate to file the paperwork necessary to establish a campaign committee for the purpose of seeking reelection to the Mayoralty in 2023. Since mayors are only elected for two years, Elicker filed his paperwork a mere 11 months into his current term. 

“I love this city,” said Elicker. “And we’ve made so much progress in the past three years, but there is much more work to be done.”

Elicker filed at the City Clerk’s office at 200 Orange St., where he made his candidacy declaration alongside his wife Natalie Elicker without the traditional fanfare of a rally with supporters.

While no other candidate has officially declared yet, New Haven activist Wendy Hamilton, former Beaver Hills Alder Shafiq Ambusaddar, current Hartford inspector general Liam Brennan LAW ’07 and McKinsey consultant Tom Goldenberg have all met with New Haveners in recent months to discuss possible challenges to incumbent Elicker according to the New Haven Independent.

In his third term, Elicker hopes to further progress on affordable housing in New Haven as well as to fight inequality in the city and expand economic opportunity.

He pointed to the construction of 500 affordable housing units in the city during his term and the  additional 1600 units in progress. If re-elected, Elicker hopes to build upon the construction and opening of the first of three of eight community centers which includes the Q-House in Dixwell. 

Elicker told the News that during his first two terms the city has stabilized its budget through the almost doubling of funds received from the state’s Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes program.

Originally from New Canan,  Elicker first came to New Haven in 2007 as a student at the School of the Environment and the School of Management, receiving a joint Masters of Environmental Management and Masters of Business Administration degree.

While attending Yale, he ran for the city’s Board of Alders in 2009 and was elected for two terms as the Ward 10 alder, representing Cedar Hills and East Rock.

While he has previously ran as an independent against the Democratic nominee in 2013, this time around his candidacy is being endorsed by the city’s Democratic Town Committee.

“He has brought a degree of stability to the city,” said New Haven Democratic Town Committee Chairman Vincent Mauro. “He’s done a good job.”

In 2013, Elicker launched an unsuccessful campaign against his predecessor Toni Harp ARC ’78. Losing the primary to Harp, he ran as an Independent in the general election and garnered 45 percent of the vote, missing victory by a margin of only 2,000. After his loss, he took over as the executive director of the New Haven Land Trust.

During his run as executive director, he quadrupled the organization’s revenue and implemented programs to address systemic injustices in New Haven, including a youth jobs training program.

Elicker ran again for mayor in 2019 to replace three-term Harp. Elicker ran a grassroots campaign focused on stabilizing the city’s finances and combating economic inequality. He won with 69 percent of the vote.

Two months into his term, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the city had to respond to the drastic changes it required. However, Elicker expressed that he is still proud of the progress made during the pandemic, including the funneling of tens of millions of dollars to locally owned  businesses, which has helped contribute to the opening of more than 160 small businesses since March 2020.

“State and Yale funding allowed for the creation of the Elm City COMPASS, our crisis response team and over $100 million in federal funding coming through the American Rescue Plan that will invest long term in the vibrancy of the city and in particular, in individuals who have historically been underserved,” Elicker said.

During the pandemic, Yale increased its voluntary contribution to the city of New Haven from $13 million to $23 million.

The 2023 election is also unfolding amid early discussions on charter revisions, which take place every 10 years. One of the floated changes includes conversation implementing a four-year mayoral term instead of the current two years. 

“I strongly support changing the mayoral term to four years because it will strengthen our city as well as the ability to see through longer term projects because change is not instantaneous and we need to be able to have stable leadership to ensure growth and success,” Elicker told the News.

Elicker also said that over his more than decade of public service in the city, he has learned how difficult it can be to enact change especially when “many people in the state are not as committed to investing in cities like New Haven.”

Elicker has already won endorsements from members of the city’s state house delegation including State Rep. Juan Candelaria.

“Mayor Elicker is a steady hand and excellent leader,” said Candelaria. “The city is growing, but he is focused on making sure no neighborhood is left behind. He’s working hard to ensure more affordable housing is being built, and the new programs like rental assistance to ensure nobody falls through the cracks. I’m looking forward to continuing to work together to move New Haven forward.”

Elicker took office on Jan. 1, 2020.

Yash Roy covered City Hall and State Politics for the News. He also served as a Production & Design editor, and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion chair for the News. Originally from Princeton, New Jersey, he is a '25 in Timothy Dwight College majoring in Global Affairs.