Mayoral candidate Justin Elicker rose at 5 a.m. Tuesday, grabbed a big handful of trail mix, then headed out with his wife Natalie to vote at Wilbur Cross High High School. He hoped the trail mix would fuel a day-long east-to-west itinerary to hit as many New Haven polling places as possible to ask for people’s votes.
Elicker is one of four Democrats competing in Tuesday’s Democratic mayoral primary. Polls close at 8 p.m.
The trail mix fueled Elicker’s visits to Ross/Woodward School, then Bella Vista, then back to East Rock’s Ward 9 and 10, Ward 7’s polling place at 200 Orange St., then on to Ward 19 at the Celentano school,where he embraced aldermanic candidate (and Elicker campaign fundraising chief) Michael Stratton.
“Can I have a hug?” Elicker said to several of his workers who had set up at tables around the crescent shaped driveway in front of the school.
He couldn’t help noticing that none of the other mayoral candidates had staff or tables present at Celentano. (City/town clerk candidate Sergio Rodriguez had a volunteer present.)
The firefighters union had a sign set up on the premises to urge people to vote against Stratton because of his call for cutting the size of the department. Read about that here—and about Elicker’s own brush with the issue here.
Elicker hopped into his dark grey Subaru Forrester on to the next stop, Ward 21 at the King/Robinson School. The trail mix was doing the trick; he was energzied.
At King/Robinson, Elicker ran into his mom, Joni Elicker, one of four or five active volunteers at the school. She did not ask him if he had eaten a good breakfast. She lives in New Canaan, so she can’t vote in New Haven; still, she offered that she considers her son the best candidate in the field.
She was when she began to surmise her son might enter public life. “When he was in a play in the second or third grade, he had a song to sing and a dance,” she replied. “I thought he’d be nervous, but he winked at us. I knew he’d be OK, a guy who liked people, moral, and trustworthy.”
Elicker said his mom, who has previously worked in his aldermanic campaigns, specifically asked to work a polling place whose diversity reflected the city, so he suggested Newhallville’s Ward 21.
Before Elicker left for the next stop, he also went over to chat with two Toni Harp poll workers, Frederica Holmes (at left in photo) and Taisha Miranda. They chatted about how busy the site had been, and about the weather.
Then it was on to Dixwell’s Wexler/Grant School, Ward 22’s polling site. There Ralph Vaughn held a cup of half finished Dunkin Donuts coffee in his hand and engaged Elicker on programs for young people.
“What I hear is ‘Q House,’” the candidate said.
“There are four sides of town. We need four Q Houses,” replied Vaughn.
Elicker elicited that Vaughn had already voted. “I caught you too late,” he said.
Vaughn wouldn’t say for whom he voted. But of Elicker, he added, “He’s ready. Age don’t mean nothin’.”
The candidate checked his cell phone, closed his Subaru’s door and headed out to the polling sites on the way to Westville’s Ward 25. He said he chose his east-west route based on time and geography only, not politics. After Westville he planned to work his way through the Hill, then Fair Haven, and then home to monitor the results with Natalie. Afterwards, on to the campaign party, at O’Toole’s on Orange Street.
The noon stop at Ward 25 campaign headquarters, the home of Tim Holahan, included lunch. The trail mix had done the job for the first stretch of Elicker’s primary day journey. Now, he said, “I"m hungry—for change in New Haven.”