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“Women For Fernandez” Debut

by Melissa Bailey | May 17, 2013 8:49 am

(21) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Politics, Campaign 2013

Hire women to top city positions. Help women-owned businesses land contracts. “End harassment of women on our streets.”

Henry Fernandez unveiled those ideas Thursday, along with a high-powered lineup of female supporters who vowed to keep him to his word.

Fernandez (at left in above photo), one of seven candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor in a Sept. 10 primary, made the remarks at a woman-focused campaign event Thursday at the 50 Elm St. office building.

The event was billed as the launch of “Women For Fernandez,” a group of women supporting his candidacy.

It was the third event Fernandez has fielded in the past two weeks, seeking to move ahead of the crowded field early by establishing public visibility, evidence of support, and identification with an emerging set of positions on issues.

In remarks before about three dozen supporters, Fernandez vowed to: Encourage the hiring of women to full-time jobs, and encourage their promotion, in the public, private and not-for-profit sector; promote quality childcare; “ensure women-owned businesses get city contracts; ensure that women have top senior positions in my administration” and are “more than equally represented” at “all levels of management in city government”; work with his police chief to address higher rates of sex assault among low-income women; create a public-private partnership focusing on health disparity between black and Latina women and their white peers; and “end the harassment of women in city streets.”

He said his commitment to equality derives from his childhood growing up raised by a single mom. His mom was discriminated on the job and harassed in the street, he said. “We grew up poor because of discrimination against women.” He said his mom always advocated for equal rights worked hard to earn a college degree while he was in high school.

Fernandez said his platform came from a team of women who are serving as advisers to his campaign. If elected, he vowed, he will put together a commission on women and girls—including some of those women—“to hold me accountable and make sure these things actually get done.”

As evidence that he would follow through, Fernandez cited his record running the youth agency LEAP, where he said he trained and promoted female staff and made sure kids had books to read with strong female role models; and at City Hall, where he served as economic development director, and where he said he promoted women into previously male-dominated leadership positions.

Nichole Jefferson stepped forward as Exhibit A of that record. When Fernandez joined City Hall in 1998, hired to clean up the Livable City Initiative (LCI), the city’s anti-blight agency, Jefferson was working there. Fernandez promoted her, then later named her as the head of the Commission on Equal Opportunities, which oversees female, minority and local hiring requirements on city construction projects. The agency has been around since 1964, Jefferson said; in 2002 she became the first ever female to serve as director.

As economic development chief, Fernandez also hired Regina Winters as the first-ever female director of LCI; and he promoted Wendy Clarke to the position of deputy economic development chief, sending her on her way to move up the ladder within City Hall after Fernandez left.

Jefferson brought Francine Casanova (pictured) on board to Fernandez’s campaign. Casanova went to Jefferson’s construction training school; she is now a unionized journeyman who earns top wages building projects such as 360 State and Gateway Community College.

Jefferson and Casanova kicked off a lineup of women who pledged support for Fernandez Thursday.

The lineup included Elizabeth Alexander (pictured), a Yale professor and poet who recited a poem at President Obama’s 2009 inauguration. She praised Fernandez for standing up for women, and for choosing Kica Matos, a “strong, brave, brilliant, and truly courageous” woman, as his life partner.

Megan Fountain (pictured), a volunteer organizer with the immigrant rights group Unidad Latina en Acción, praised Fernandez’s work as a board member at JUNTA for Progressive Action, a Fair Haven-based Latino advocacy agency.

Louise Endel (pictured), who is in her 10th decade of a long life fighting for women’s rights, also pledged her support.

The event featured live classical tunes from Yale Music In Medicine, a volunteer group that plays for hospital patients. Jefferson saw the group playing in the atrium of the Smilow Cancer Hospital one day and secured the musicians for Thursday’s event.

Pete’s Eats, a local caterer, cooked up meatballs, cornbread and tiny quiches for the crowd. Everything was coordinated, from the color of the balloons—in the campaign’s orange and blue—to the drink list.

Betty Jarman (pictured) mixed cocktails, including a “Fernandez Summer Splash,” featuring Bacardi, daiquiri, ruby cherry juice and orange juice.

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posted by: Xavier on May 16, 2013  10:52pm

One City Henry powerfully punches out of the mediocrity of mayoral candidates.

Money buys good staff, great messaging, and masterful press events - this being yet one in another string of press One City Henry has scored.

Message- women, of all races and of all socioeconomic backgrounds are going to benefit by One City Henry ascension to the corner office of the second floor of City Hall.

Careful not to confuse us with the machine women, One City Henry is showing his powerful organizing machine at work with a whole new raft of supporters!

One City Henry bathed in AXE - and power, which just drives the women nuts. (Ok, I got carried away).

One City Henry is making all the right moves and demonstrating he wants to WIN, but running an election that shows he wants to Win. Winners attract people, of all sexes.

posted by: markcbm on May 16, 2013  10:54pm

Please don’t take this chauvinistically, but Henry Fernandez is the man.   

#LEAP4Life

posted by: Bill Saunders on May 17, 2013  12:07am

Has Henry negotiated a ‘no cat calls’ clause with his union backers???

posted by: Noteworthy on May 17, 2013  8:16am

Mini-me Fernandez just gave the wolf whistle to women in the latest pandering move to gain a few votes. It’s ironic that he’s promising to steer jobs and city contracts to women that adversely affect the opportunities for others, but not his own. This is a very slippery slope that could lead to lawsuits and millions in legal settlements at taxpayer expense (remember Ricci). Would it not have been better to hold a press event promising that there will be a focus on excellence, not politics, not pandering based on race or gender, but unbridled excellence?

Mini-me better hire a female accountant for his campaign. He’s going to need someone to keep track of all the promises and contracts he’s handing out as he tries to pander his way to the mayor’s chair.

Xavier:

Axe, really? Is that what Mini-me wears?
“Be it a competitive Sporty Girl, a tireless Party Girl, or a High Maintenance Girl, the hottest girls are the most demanding. So re-charge with Axe Shower Gels…” (from Axe website)

posted by: Xavier on May 17, 2013  9:18am

Noteworthy,
Just trying to have a little fun. One City Henry is an AXE of guy. You know he is in the room by the buzz he creates.

One City Henry is his own man. He is not JD 2.0, a minime, but a guy who knows how to run the city.

Fear mongering about lawsuits is a stretch. One City Henry is smart, bold, and testosterone flushed so as to successfully operate in the political milieu of New Haven.

What One City Henry is showing us is that winners win and when you win, you can govern.

Kudos to One City Henry’s campaign stuff - well done! What is up for the weekend?

posted by: newhaven55 on May 17, 2013  9:56am

Possible alternate name for the group: “Women who will donate in order to retain their city jobs” ??

posted by: SherryCherry on May 17, 2013  10:48am

I’m sorry I missed this event would’ve liked a Fernandez Summer Splash!

This kind of recognition of his committment to the ladies of New Haven just pushes my support for him from 100% to 110%!

Fernandez for Mayor.

posted by: anonymous on May 17, 2013  10:59am

Since women are more often than not the primary breadwinners in their families, I am curious what an average woman in New Haven (and Fernandez) thinks about the 8% tax increase that the Aldermanic Finance Committee just approved by a margin of one vote?

posted by: YesWeCan on May 17, 2013  11:00am

People who don’t believe there is a need to make a concerted effort to recognize the value of women in the workplace need to take a step back! This plan of Henry’s to work hard to remedy one of societies biggest problems, the devaluation of women and more specifically women of color is applaudable. If commenters have a problem with who is a “Woman for Fernandez,” claim that it is for donations rather than for their contribution as a powerful mind and human being that commenter should turn a mirror on themself and think about how they view women. Are you looking at her as a human being like you should be or are you actively devaluing these women and their opinions about a candidate.

posted by: momnprof on May 17, 2013  11:26am

This was a fantastic event.  I am proud to be counted as one of Henry Fernandez’s supporters.  As a single mother, Yale professor and resident of this city who cares about it’s future, I am excited about a candidate who was real concrete ideas about improving education, making our streets safer, enhancing the arts and making New Haven no only a better city but a model city for the Nation.  Great job, Henry.

posted by: Hmmm on May 17, 2013  11:56am

How does Henry propose to do all of these things for women? Is he going to go to individual employers like mine and demand that I am paid equitably and/or promoted based on my dedication and caliber of my work? Good luck. As a woman, I don’t see it even being possible, nor do I see him being able to stop women from being harassed. Is he going to issue some sort of “Mr. Manners” edict to all the men in the city about how NOT to look at and speak to women with a fine attached if it’s not followed? Notice that almost all the women who support him in this latest scheme—at least according to the article—are women whose backs he has personally scratched in some way, not your “average” New Haven woman. Also, “anonymous,” I would like to hear what Henry has to say about the 8% tax increase, too. As for how it affects me, it’s incredibly scary and detrimental. I was so proud to be able to buy a house on my own, but, thanks to tax increases, my mortgage is going to go up again for the second time in three years, which I did not budget for when I thought I was making an intelligent decision for my family.

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on May 17, 2013  2:33pm

Henry
“In remarks before about three dozen supporters, Fernandez vowed to: Encourage the hiring of women to full-time jobs, and encourage their promotion, in the public, private and not-for-profit sector; promote quality childcare; “ensure women-owned businesses get city contracts; ensure that women have top senior positions in my administration” and are “more than equally represented” at “all levels of management in city government”; work with his police chief to address higher rates of sex assault among low-income women; create a public-private partnership focusing on health disparity between black and Latina women and their white peers; and “end the harassment of women in city streets.”

This blatant form of pandering is laughable.

I can’t help but to wonder if the emphasis on woman, would’ve been mentioned by this candidate had it not been for the front runner Toni Harp’s emergence in this race.

posted by: BornandraisedschooledinNewHaven on May 17, 2013  3:46pm

Another DeStefano Cronie

Come DeStefano those games the Machine has been playing are no longer viable, go without trying to control your puppet strings(Henry Fernandez) It’s a new day People are smarter. You see all the Board of Education & other top city officials are leaving in droves. The party is over. We need new blood in this city(recent alderman election infusion of new blood) something we haven’t had since your first term. It going to be interesting to see all the dirt that’s been covered and buried, hmmmmmm

posted by: Xavier on May 17, 2013  4:48pm

One City Henry is not another JD.

Some people are trying to derail One City Henry’s march to City Hall, and it is not going to happen.

“It’s a new day People are smarter. You see all the Board of Education & other top city officials are leaving in droves.”

Not true. DeStefano built a quality and effective city government.

Could it be improved upon? Certainly. But throw the baby out with the bath water would be imprudent and not likely to happen when One City Henry gets elected. We are looking at a transition, not some sort of revolution for which some people pine. It is just not going to happen in New Haven.

One City Henry knows where the bodies are buried but also will be able to hit the ground running.

“We need new blood in this city(recent alderman election infusion of new blood) something we haven’t had since your first term.”

Unless people are willing to put some skin into the game, like One City Henry, then all we have is a bunch of immature wantabee revolutionaries who know nothing about governing.

One City Henry has the political skill sets and testosterone to use them to govern.

Anyone who has run afoul of One City Henry, knows he holds grudges, and if you want to be part of the solution, best to choose up sides now.

One City Henry, for mayor.

posted by: Hmmm on May 17, 2013  5:01pm

Xavier, your comments are always very interesting. I am constantly trying to decide if your pro-One City Henry stance is tongue-in-cheek or serious. Your latest comment, “Anyone who has run afoul of One City Henry, knows he holds grudges, and if you want to be part of the solution, best to choose up sides now.” seems to imply that if we don’t back Henry, and he’s aware of it, we’re screwed. Interesting. Many of your comments seems to laud and zing him concurrently…Can you clarify your stance?

posted by: nellie bly on May 17, 2013  6:49pm

While commendable that women were promoted, it should also be noted that all three women are minorities.

That is Henry’s primary focus; promoting minorities so the “One City” campaign slogan is false advertising.

At the time Henry promoted these women, there were (and remain) competent qualified Economic Development staff, who were deliberately overlooked.

posted by: Xavier on May 18, 2013  12:20am

Hmmmm wrote:
“Can you clarify your stance?”

Ambiguity is the hallmark of a good politician. Or is it paradox?

posted by: Fairhavener on May 18, 2013  9:05am

Toni Harp joins the race and now a preemptive move by a candidate who, in a matter of days, becomes a pioneer for women’s rights! This extraordinary attention to detail is exactly what more moneyed campaigns can buy; along with fancy press conferences and hot-shot campaign managers who don’t even live here.

Hopefully New Haveners can see through the smoke.

posted by: nellie bly on May 18, 2013  4:43pm

“Fair Havener”-

Your reference to “hot shot campaign managers who don’t even live here” reminded me of another fact about the women Henry promoted- two of the three are Hamden residents.

Quite ironic when you think they were Livable City Staff.

posted by: Hmmm on May 18, 2013  11:07pm

It seems like Henry is going to do quite well with residents of other towns between his union supporters and those he promoted when he worked for the city. Has he done anything in small settings in small businesses in the neighborhoods he will serve to a) support those businesses and b) meet the “little guys” he would serve who actually LIVE in New Haven? Haven’t seen it yet. I live in Fair Haven, and I just got the first canvassing pieces over the past two days, one of which invited me to a community member’s home. So much for his commitment to Fair Haven. Also, I didn’t actually meet or see said canvassers, for which I am grateful, since I don’t intend to support Henry, but it’s a better tactic than dropping and running if you want people to vote for you…

posted by: Bill Saunders on May 19, 2013  4:32pm

Xavier,

Thank you for pointing out that O’Henry is a grudge holder.
This totally torpedoes your argument that he is not Destefano 2.0.

Can you please tell me how grudge politics is good for New Haven????
Haven’t we been living under that bad behavior for the last 20 years???

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