Voters return to the polls Tuesday for—what else?—another New Haven election, this one for seats on the Democratic Town Committee.
It’s a quieter affair than the last round of Town Committee elections.
Out of 30 wards, only two have primaries for Democratic Town Committee seats: Beaver Hills’ Ward 28 and Upper Westville’s Ward 26.
The Ward 28 election takes place at Hillhouse High School, 480 Sherman Parkway. The Ward 26 election takes place at Mauro-Sheridan School at 191 Fountain St. The polls open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. If you’re not sure what ward you’re in, call the registrar of voters during business hours at (203) 946-8035.
The candidates are running as two-person teams for the two co-chair positions in each ward. The job traditionally entails voting for candidates for mayor, alderman, and state and federal offices at party conventions. Some candidates occasionally promise to do more, using the position to promote greater ward democracy. (Click here to read about one such example.)
These ward co-chair elections take place every two years. They are the most local of local elections, rarely attracting notice outside of a small circle of insiders. In 2012 the races attracted an unusual amount of competition, organizing and attention, as a newly ascendant coalition that had taken control of the Board of Alders sought to do the same with the local Democratic Party. It succeeded: Candidates from the coalition swept all seven competitive races that year and gained a majority of the Town Committee. (Read about that here.)
This year one of the challenge slates—Claudette Robinson-Thorpe (pictured above) and Clython Thompson Jr. in Ward 28—is taking on the new party leadership coalition. Robinson-Thorpe, who’s also a city alder, originally entered politics as a candidate of that coalition, out of her work with Yale’s unions. Now she has joined a dissenting group called the People’s Coalition.
She and Thompson are running Tuesday to unseat incumbent Ward 28 co-chairs Donald Walker and Jess Corbett (pictured). Corbett, a Yale med school lab tech and active member of Yale’s UNITE HERE Local 34, said labels like “union-backed” or “labor affiliated” don’t fit him. “I work at Yale. I’m a union member. I’m proud of that.” He said he’s also just as proud of his work on the ward and town Democratic committees.
In Ward 26, one team of candidates consists of Sharon Jones (the current Ward 27 co-chair, whose address became part of Ward 26 in the latest redistricting) and Amy Marx, a legal-aid lawyer who was active in Justin Elicker’s mayoral campaign and is making her first run for elected office in New Haven. (They’re pictured right to left in the above photo.) They promised to use the position to get people more involved in community service, beginning with snow shoveling; click here to read a story about that.
They face the team of Ronald Rainey (pictured above), a current ward co-chair, and Bridget Gardner (pictured below), one of the homeowners who pressed the state for help with “sinking houses” in Upper Westville’s Beverly Hills section. Rainey said he agrees with Marx and Jones that the committee can do more.
No other ward races are contested. Click here for a list of all the people who petitioned to become ward co-chairs; outside of Wards 26 and 28, they will all become the ward chairs, and vote to elect the new town chair. That person is expected to be Vincent Mauro, Jr., son of a former town chair from the 1980s. The new town chair will fill the second slot that’s currently open for a co-chair in Dixwell’s 22nd Ward.
Last Tuesday New Haven voters went to the polls to elect a new state senator. Voters have almost two weeks off after Tuesday; then on March 17 Ward 7 voters go to the polls to elect a new alder to replace Doug Hausladen, who stepped down to become the Harp administration’s transit chief. A special election will take place in April to replace Gary Holder-Winfield as state representative in the 94th General Assembly District. (Holder-Winfield won last week’s special election as state senator.)