(Updated 6:51 p.m.) A Yale School of Management administrator became the first candidate to jump into the latest special election brewing in New Haven.
That race is for the Downtown/East Rock Ward 7 seat. Doug Hausladen, who just won reelection to that seat, plans to resign from it soon to take a new job as transit chief with the Harp Administration.
Abby Roth (at left in photo), special assistant to Yale School of Management Dean Edward Snyder, attended a City Hall press conference Tuesday afternoon announcing Hausladen’s new job. She said afterwards that she plans to run for the seat in an upcoming special election. The election must take place within 45 days of Hausladen’s formal resignation.
Ward 7 Democratic Co-Chair Alberta Witherspoon (pictured above with Roth at the press conference) said she believes Roth “has the experience” for the job.
Another Democrat, Yale undergraduate Ella Wood (pictured), said that she is weighing a run. Backed by Yale’s UNITE/HERE union locals, Wood ran a spirited challenge against Hausladen in the 2013 Democratic Party primary, during which she came under criticism for moving into the ward days before a deadline to run for office. She responded to critics at this debate.
“I plan on speaking with constituents and leaders from the ward before making a decision about running,” Wood said on Tuesday evening. She said she doesn’t have a timeline for making a decision.
Wood said that she’s “thrilled” about Hausladen’s appointment at traffic tsar and that she thinks he will “do a fantastic job.”
Roth, a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, returned to town seven years ago from D.C. after serving as an attorney with the federal Department of Homeland Security and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. She lives on Audubon Court in Ward 7; she currently works as special assistant to School of Management Dean Ted Snyder. She has been active on the Downtown Wooster Square Management Team.
She said Tuesday afternoon that if elected she will continue Hausladen’s advocacy for safer streets for pedestrians and cyclists and for improving mass transit.
“I don’t own a car,” Roth said, so she sees firsthand the need to help people feel safer walking around town. She agreed with Hausladen’s call for CT Transit to add a GPS to buses so riders can track their progress “rather than standing wondering when your bus is coming, which is something I’ve done.”
Roth also called for creating a “better path” for walking to Union Station “rather than being stuck on traffic islands.”
State Rep. Roland Lemar, who lives in the ward, offered an early endorsement of Roth’s candidacy: “I have known Abby Roth for a long time. I have seen her work, her passion, and her commitment to causes that are important to her. I have watched her knock doors to register voters, call legislators to fight for public policy that she believed in, and work with community members to improve her neighborhood. She has an extraordinary background, amazing intellect and a commitment to improving New Haven. She is not political by nature, likely won’t fit neatly into either side of the board divisions that currently exist, but if Abby does decide to run, I would give her my fullest support and be thrilled to have her as my representative on the Board of Alders.”
Hausladen, who begins his new Harp administration job on Feb. 1, said he’s not sure what date he’ll submit his resignation. He said he wants to see if he can time it so that the city can combine the Ward 7 special election with the Feb. 25 special election for the 10th State Senate District seat (from which Toni Harp resigned this month as she began her job as mayor). City/Town Clerk Michael Smart Tuesday called it worth exploring to see if that can be done.
Another alder, Jackie James, recently resigned her seat, in the Hill’s Ward 3; she too took a job with the Harp Administration. Only one candidate, JeQueena Foreman, has filed to run for the seat, so a special election scheduled for Feb. 13 may not occur after all.
Thomas MacMillan contributed reporting.