Daniel Zhao, Senior Photographer

The new year brought new terms for New Haven elected officials — but little change in the Democratic Party’s grip on city government.

Mayor Justin Elicker and 31 other New Haven Democrats were sworn in for two-year terms in office on Jan. 1 at a ceremony in the Wilbur Cross High School gymnasium.

In an inaugural address marking the start of his third term, Elicker highlighted problems the city is facing, such as gun violence and a “crisis of affordability” in housing, while promising to detail his policy vision in a State of the City speech next month.

“Our values — inclusion, compassion, justice, courage, persistence, innovation, partnership — these will drive us forward and inform and animate the work we do,” he said.

The Mayor also recognized many attendees with whom he has worked, among them Senator Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73, Representative Rosa DeLauro and University President Peter Salovey, whose presence at the ceremony Elicker called emblematic of improved town-gown relations.

Twenty-nine of the 30 alders were present to take the oath of office together; five were entering the role for the first time.

The group of new alders included Kiana Flores ’25, a New Havener elected to represent Ward 1, which encompasses most of Yale’s residential buildings, and Ward 9’s Caroline Smith ’14 SOM ’25, who now represents parts of East Rock and Fair Haven.

Flores, who was born and raised in New Haven, told the News that her family and several friends attended the inauguration, a special chance to gather with all of her new colleagues.

“I was nervous I was going to lift my left hand up instead of my right, so that’s all I was thinking about,” she said. “And then also we had to repeat the oath back, so making sure not to mess up.”

The ceremony lasted over two hours on New Year’s Day. It opened with invocations by Rabbi Eric Woodward and Imam Omer Bajwa, Yale’s director of Muslim life, and concluded with a benediction by Pastor Valerie Washington. In between, the event featured music, speeches by political leaders and a poem about democracy recited by New Haven’s first poet laureate, Sharmont Influence-Little.

In its first meeting with the new members, the Board unanimously reelected Ward 23 Alder Tyisha Walker-Myers as president and Ward 22 Alder Jeanette Morrison as president pro tempore. Ward 17 Alder Sal Punzo replaced Ward 18 Alder Sal DeCola, who narrowly beat two challengers in November’s general election, as the Board’s third officer.

Walker-Myers’ election for a fifth term as president ensures the city’s top executive and legislative leaders both remain constant from 2023.

Ethan Wolin covers City Hall and local politics. He is a first year in Silliman College from Washington, D.C.