New Haven Mayor's Race

Apr 30, 2013

New Haven mayor John DeStefano’s announcement earlier this year that he would not seek re-election has opened up the field to a host of politicians eager to fill the city’s top job.  

New Haven has had one mayor for the past twenty years.  Now lots of candidates with lots of points of view are vying for the post, says Paul Bass, editor of the New Haven Independent. 

"And they’re going to have to prove that they have support and their ideas have support in order to win. We haven’t seen that in a long time."

The list includes: State Senator Toni Harp; the city’s former economic Development Chief Henry Fernandez; State Representative Gary Holder-Winfield; CT Technology Council president Matthew Nemerson;  Alderman Justin Elicker; High school principal Kermit Carolina; and New Haven resident Sundiata Keitazulu.

New Haven has been a one-party town for a long time, so in the past,  political factions inside the Democratic party struggled with each other for voters. 

But things are a little different this time around, says Bass.

"What’s happened now is you have a kind of citizen organizing around issues or interests.  You have people who care about urban development. Activists who care about.sort of progressive issues."

..and each  group aligning with the candidate of their choice.  

New Haven is also the only city in Connecticut with the state’s permission to offer municipal financing for mayoral candidates.  Three candidates have signed up so far for the financing program with a fourth expected to join. Three others have opted out. 

"This is going to be the number one test of the public financing system, running with public finance matching dollars to keep the costs down and keep special interests out."

Bass says this mayoral race may be a once-in-a-generation look at how how people’s quality of life concerns are decided in an election.