Surrounded by family, supporters, army buddies and friends from Hamden High School, Walter Morton shared his vision for a stronger Hamden at a fundraiser last week. 

Morton announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in this November’s Hamden mayoral election on March 26. Incumbent Lauren Garrett is also running for re-election. Speaking to roughly four dozen supporters at the Friday night fundraiser in the Playwright Irish Pub,  Morton made his pitch for improving the city’s economic development, school system and public safety.

“I want to help bring Hamden back to what it used to be,” Morton told the News. “I remember growing up here and this was a place where people were proud to raise their families and settle down here.”

Born and raised in Hamden, Morton served as former Mayor Curt Balzano Leng’s legislative liaison, advocating for Hamden priorities in Hartford, Connecticut and Washington, D.C.

Prior to his current term as a member of the Hamden Public Schools Board of Education, Morton also served in Eastern Africa with his National Guard unit. He had to resign his position as a Board of Education member in May of 2021 when his Guard unit was called up for service. However, after he returned from his 10-month tour he was appointed to a vacant seat by the Board of Education. 

During his time on the BOE prior to deployment, Morton served as the finance and personnel chair for almost seven years.

“Over my almost ten years of public service as well as my military service, I have learned how the government works and how to get things done,” Morton told the News. “From advocating for our town’s priorities in Hartford and DC as well as on the Board of Education I have made connections with people across the state and will use what I’ve learned to get things done.” 

One of Morton’s main campaign priorities is economic development. According to Morton, Hamden needs to bring more business to the town, as well as expand the property tax base to allow for a lowering of property taxes. 

Hamden has one of the highest tax rates in the state, which, according to Morton, has disincentivized people from staying in the city. He plans on studying ways to rezone parts of the town to allow for more favorable tax rates and draw more business to Hamden. 

“Administration after administration have promised tax relief and we still have some of the highest taxes in the state,” longtime Hamden resident and former city councilman John Flannagan told the News.  “Walter is promising real change.”  

On education, Morton plans on helping to increase funding for schools and ensure that the district is able to maintain a strong set of teachers after the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw a national teacher shortage crisis. 

“A lot of my friends from Hamden High are here with me today,” Morton said. “Hamden High was a great school to go to and we need to make sure that it stays that way.” 

In terms of public safety, Morton plans on working to “provide more resources for the police department” while also encouraging community policing and increasing opportunities for local youth to be more involved in the town. 

The Friday fundraiser was also attended by members of the Quinnipiac Democrats, including current president Paul Cappuzzo and president-elect Nick Fizzano. 

Cappuzzo told the News that he was looking to hear from all candidates in the race about how they would better integrate Quinnipiac into the town and advocate for the university to have one unified state legislative district. The current system splits the university’s campus across two districts. 

While Quinnipiac Democrats have not endorsed a candidate yet and follow an endorsement process that includes panels and deliberations, Cappuzzo told the News that the organization did not endorse Lauren Garrett when she was running for mayor because of her attitude towards the university. 

“The town generally frowns on the university and a lot of the time the problems of the city are blamed on Quinnipiac,” Cappuzzo told the News. “We’re excited to hear from Walter because we need a strong advocate who will work with us. 

Hamden’s Board of Education has nine elected members. 

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.