Today I am filing paperwork to become a candidate for Alder of Ward 25 in New Haven, a place I have proudly called home for 56 years.
Yes, New Haven is my home. And for as long as I can recall, I have heard career politicians speak about the immense potential of New Haven. It is a storyline that repeats like clockwork at election time every two years. How a city ideally located between New York City and Boston, and home to a world-renowned University and world-class medical facility, with a deep-water port, a rich history of manufacturing and innovation, a hard-working diverse population and vast public spaces is poised for greatness. But then, as I drive down our main avenues - Whalley, Dixwell, Grand - and through our local neighborhoods – Edgewood, West River, The Hill – I am reminded of just how wrong the predictions have been, and just how emphatically our elected leaders have failed us. To be fair, there have been positive changes, but nothing remotely resembling a renaissance or the emergence of a world-class city. New Haven can do better, and will do better, but not without new leadership. I want to be part of that new leadership, so I am running for Ward 25 Alder.
I am running for Alder because New Haven can’t afford another 11% tax hike; the State’s Municipal Accountability Review Board is knocking on the door and without serious reform the prospect of a municipal bankruptcy is all too real. We’re told crime is down yet the Mayor spends $200,000 a year on personal police protection while our neighborhoods don’t have enough patrols. This while the people who protect us have been without a contract for three years and there is no plan to stem the wave of senior retirements and the exodus of younger officers. The City dispatches million dollar fire trucks to routine medical calls, and despite a $3.0 million overtime deficit, it squanders more than $1.0 million a year paying suspended fire personnel to stay home. The New Haven Public Schools spends $18,000 per year to educate each student and yet we are told this isn’t enough. The Superintendent of Schools leaves vacant for more than 8 months the Finance Director role while the school system struggles to resolve a $30 million deficit. The Transportation Department is focused on autonomous shuttles for Yale, a shuttered concert hall and a failed bike sharing program while our schools and parks go without basic safety zones, our main avenues lack sufficient crosswalks and neighborhood organizers need to beg the City for simple changes like putting in a new stop sign. The Complete Streets program is a complete disaster, and we have a Livable City Initiative, but not a livable city. In short, there are many reasons to run for Alder. But most of all I am running for Alder because it does not need to be this way. New Haven can do better.
We need to clean-up our finances, invest in our neighborhoods, put more money into the classroom and less into administration, determine proper staffing levels for our police and fire departments, reduce taxes for our burdened homeowners, invest in technology, improve the quality of life for those of us who today call New Haven home and restore faith in our local government by demanding transparency. In other words, we need to focus on the basics, the nuts and bolts, the actions successful cities practice but are sorely lacking in New Haven. To do so, we don’t need more white papers, or more commissions, or more career politicians, or more insiders. Instead, New Haven needs more political outsiders, people with the courage to challenge the status quo, start the conversation, ask the difficult questions and demand answers, lead with integrity, deliver results and do so with openness and transparency.
I was born and raised in New Haven. I’m someone who knows this city and its history from having spent most of my life here, and having interacted with nearly every city service. I am both a homeowner as well as a licensed landlord. I have followed New Haven politics, but from a distance. I’m not ‘politically connected’ and don’t owe favors to any party, person or politician. My only allegiance is to the truth and the citizens of the city. Academically, I hold an undergraduate degree in Political Science from Fordham University and an MBA in Finance from the University of Connecticut. I am a Certified Public Accountant and have passed two levels of the rigorous Chartered Financial Analyst exam. Professionally, I am a self-employed consultant who works as a Chief Financial Officer supporting startup companies. Like most of you, I work long hours, take care of my home, pay my taxes and my primary concern is providing for my family. Until recently, I stood back assuming our elected officials would act responsibly and improve our City. But, I was wrong. So, I have decided to get involved – because New Haven deserves better and New Haven can do better.
Mayor Harp and the Alders who support her are asking us to “stay the course.” No thank you! We don’t need more of the same: double-digit tax hikes, municipal credit card theft, payroll fraud, vindictive lawsuits, children shot, dirt bikes, unchecked police and fire overtime, outside education consultants, overdoses on the Green, endless tax abatements, public school deficits, expensive bond refinancings, administration secrecy and to top it all off - an FBI investigation. No, we don’t need to “stay the course.” We need to “right the ship.”
Yes, we need to “right the ship,” and to do so we need all hands on deck. No one person - least of all Mayor Harp who has neither the will nor the vision - can bring about the fundamental change we so desperately need and rightfully deserve. Not me nor any one Alder, nor Wendy, nor Justin, nor Urn, nor Seth. That’s because New Haven is controlled by a political machine and ruled by a political class – an endless list of special interests, career politicians, well-connected developers, suburban influence and outside money. We need wholesale change in the way this city is governed, who governs it and how it operates. To change New Haven, New Haven needs to change. We need new people to get involved.
We need people in politics who are willing to put New Haven first. We need people who are committed to placing New Haven’s future ahead of personal gain. Right now, only a handful of Alders challenge the Mayor. We need to change that. If you aren’t satisfied with the status quo, and many of us are not, then the best way to do something about it is to walk into the Town Clerk’s Office, and take 10 minutes to fill out the paperwork to run for Alder. I did it and you can do it too! You don’t need a lawyer, money, a particular degree (or any degree) or the support of a political party. And it’s not too late. We have more than three months before the general election. You can do it. You don’t need to support me. All I ask is you put New Haven first. New Haven needs you. Please join the process. Together we can right the ship and make New Haven better.
Soon I will be releasing a document outlining where I stand on specific local issues. And I’ll be asking our current Alders and any Alder challengers to go on the record and tell us where they stand on the important issues as well. In the meantime, please reach out to me on Facebook, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or mobile at 203.491.9708
Thank you for listening,
Made in New Haven