Olha Yarynich, Contributing Photographer

The Aldermanic Affairs Committee of the Board of Alders met at City Hall on Monday night to ratify 17 appointments across nine commissions and boards including the Commission on Aging, the Peace Commission and the Commission on Youth. 

Every individual who received a first-time nomination was granted a chance to present arguments in favor of their own appointments. Members of the Aldermanic Affairs Committee, which is chaired by Ward 13 Alder Rosa Ferraro-Santana, asked questions about the candidates’ histories and professional backgrounds.

With appointments spanning across five distinct commissions, the topics candidates raised while speaking before the Committee varied. Yet, a common thread united them: all expressed a commitment to amplify the voices of the communities they represent, foster connections across the city and bridge gaps between residents’ backgrounds. 

“The reason I can do my work is so that people can communicate with each other and create a peace that is based on the direct knowledge of each other,” Roberto Irizarry said about being a tapped as nominee to join the Peace Commission. 

Irizarry also spoke about his personal experiences while working as an instructor teaching literature and languages at the University of New Haven. 

Barbara Jackson, who was appointed to the Commission on Aging, highlighted her experience working with a diverse groups of people, including experience training over 200 employees and staff at a past job she held. 

Jackson mentioned concerns she has about the accessibility of resources in the city for the elderly, which is an issue she said she plans to tackle with the Commission on Aging.

“They have a lot of good material, a lot of resources. But how many of the elderly actually know how to get to the website, look up and follow the resource?” Jackson said, highlighting the gap that she says exists between city resources being availabile and those resources being accessible.

To address this issue, in the meeting, Jackson proposed launching computer literacy education programs. Jackson also mentioned ideas for the city to help foster stronger partnerships between the elderly and the younger generations  — high school and college students — with the goal of connecting the elderly to the digital world. 

Rania Das, a candidate for the Commission on Youth, spoke about wanting to encourage students to bring in their ideas and engage in New Haven. Das said that, for this reason, she had already started an initiative called “Elm City Equity,” at her school. 

“It’s supposed to be kind of like a platform for students to voice their concerns, their ideas, their hopes, how they think they can improve the New Haven community,” Das explained. 

The project oversees numerous community service-related operations happening around the school and encourages students to sign up for volunteering opportunities, such as tutoring or volunteering at local nonprofits, according to Das. 

Das also emphasized her dedication to advocating for her peers. Das underscored the lasting impact of COVID-19, pointing out the educational challenges that students face in the post-pandemic world.  

Alyssa Marie Cajigas, another candidate for the Commission on Youth, told the News that she is excited to see many people listed as members of the Youth Commission this year.

“The Commission has historically not had a lot of participation from young people,” Cajigas added.

Other candidates for the Youth Commission focused on student mental health, overuse of disciplinary actions, diversity and representation as they spoke before the Aldermanic Affairs Committee at the meeting. 

The alders approved all the nominees unanimously.  

All of the new board and committee members will serve two-year terms.