A Healthful-Food Paradise Envisioned

Thomas MacMillan PhotosCorner stores stop selling candy near schools, and put fresh fruits and vegetables for sale on the sidewalks. The city, now a well-respected center for fresh seafood, collects your compost at the curb. New Haven’s ice cream trucks have been reined and its wriggly “livestock” has been put to work. And a new food policy czar oversees it all.

New Haven would look like that based on what the candidates for mayor suggested at their latest debate.

Those visions suraced Wednesday evening in the basement of the Beulah Heights Church on Orchard Street, where five candidates for mayor faced a crowd of 160 people for a 90-minute debate about food and food policy.

The first-of-its-kind event, organized by the New Haven Food Policy Council and Yale’s School of Public Health, is a sign of just how far the food movement has come in New Haven. As moderator Mark Pazniokas, a reporter for the Connecticut Mirror, remarked at the outset, “The very fact of this event is newsworthy”: 20 years ago when Mayor John DeStefano was elected, “there were no food forums.” Now access to healthful, local food has joined taxes, crime, schools, and bike lanes as a prominent political issue in New Haven.

The candidates—Kermit Carolina, Justin Elicker, Henry Fernandez, Toni Harp, and Sundiata Keitazulu—reached broad agreement on the topics discussed: food access, urban agriculture, school food, and support for food-related industries in town.

With some differences on specifics, all candidates agreed that city government should include a position for a food policy director working on food-related issues in New Haven.

Elicker, celebrating his 38th birthday, made a splash by pulling out props, as he did in a candidate forum on the arts.

First he pulled out two boxes of sugary cereal: examples, he said, of what kids are fed in schools. That needs to change, he said.

Then, during finals remarks, Elicker pulled out cartons of eggs laid by the chickens he and his wife keep in their East Rock backyard. He distributed a half-dozen to each of his rivals as he spoke about how disconnected people have become from the source of their food.

Some highlights from the debate:

Fernandez (pictured) and Elicker both spoke about the importance of zoning when it comes to food policy. Fernandez said zoning regulations should allow stores to sell fruits and vegetables on the sidewalk, they way they can in New York City.

Elicker said city zoners should create a “healthy food zone” around schools, where stores can only sell healthy foods. He said he would also regulate ice cream trucks. “I get calls from parents fed up with ice cream trucks parked outside of schools, tempting their kids.”

As he has in previous debates, Keitazulu (pictured) hammered at a single idea all night: This time his idea was that people should have their own backyard gardens. That’s the way it was when he was growing up, he said. “We never went to the store to buy nothing,” he said. The city needs to educate people on the economic benefits of growing your own food, he said.

Several candidates called for transportation improvements as a way to improve access to food. Elicker talked about reforming the “spaghetti network” of buses and combining the city’s bus system with Yale’s shuttle service.

Carolina (pictured), principal of Hillhouse High, said the schools should have mandatory home economics classes as in the past, to educate people on how to cook and eat well.

He also spoke about the need to make sure young kids have enough to eat, in part as a way to cut down on crime. Hungry kids are kids who will turn to theft, he said.

All the candidates talked about improving access to food assistance, including WIC, SNAP, and subsidized school lunches. That comes through education and making sure school parents fill out the forms, they said.

Harp (pictured), a state senator, called for the creation of a citywide composting system, an idea with which others agreed. She also said more land should be available for gardens. She said whenever she sees worms on the sidewalk, she thinks, “That’s our livestock. We could be using them to grow food.”

Elicker said the city could stimulate the local food economy by having schools buy food locally, and by supporting the “food incubator” program to get food businesses off the ground.

Fernandez said New Haven needs to do a better job of marketing itself as a center of seafood production. He noted that boats leave Fair Haven every day to collect oysters, clams, and lobsters in the Long Island Sound. “We have this entire seafood industry here,” he said. “We need to be proud of our seafood.”

Carolina said he’d promote gardening by having contests.

Fernandez called for recess in the schools, to make sure kids are getting enough exercise. Crime also needs to be reduced, so that people can run and play in parks, he said.

Speaking about a “sense of place,” Elicker asked people to imagine if the city closed a street on a Saturday and converted it into a “walking promenade” for outdoor dining.

In closing statements, Fernandez connected the discussion to social justice. He said that while New Haven’s restaurants are to be “cherished,” the city also needs to be mindful of the exploration of workers, wage theft, sexual harassment, and forced overtime that occur in the food industry.

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posted by: anonymous on August 1, 2013  8:43am

What happens when Keno comes to town, thanks to Harp, and the corner stores where our families buy food turn into neighborhood gambling dens?

posted by: Laissez Fair Haven on August 1, 2013  9:06am

I wouldn’t call it a “debate”—I’d love to see some actual back-and-forth among the candidates—but it was an interesting forum.

Two foodie fact-checks:

1. The cereals served in NH public schools are “reduced-sugar” varieties—that’s still too much sugar (especially when washed down with the highly processed juice that accompanies school breakfast), but at least a step in the right direction.

2. Virtually no one has been harvesting lobsters from the Sound in years, thanks to the pesticide run-off that has killed most of them.  I’ve never seen a Fairhaven oyster (although they do cultivate them in the Q River and the Sound), but the clams are fantastic!

I thought Elicker, Carolina, and Fernandez offered the most substance; Harp seemed at times tentative, ill-prepared, and out of touch (can you imagine her keeping chickens in back of her mansion?!).  And you’ve got to love Keitazulu for keepin’ on keepin’ on…

posted by: robn on August 1, 2013  9:08am

My dad once told me that my grandfather used to raise chickens in the backyard for eggs and I thought that was crazy because in my experience, eggs came from the supermarket. I asked him why my grandfather stopped raising them. He told me that one day the price of eggs at the supermarket got lower than the price of chicken feed needed to produce eggs. That night my grandmother served chicken for dinner.

Sounds like a victory for industrialized agriculture but in the end there’s reality; the economics of producing food at home will weigh heavily in a poor persons decision about whether or not to do so.

posted by: Noteworthy on August 1, 2013  9:21am

Elicker always seems prepared for these discussions/debates - informed and educational at the same time. He comes with visual aides - harmonica, sugary cereal and fresh eggs. He makes me want to go get some chickens, and a pig ‘cuz I like bacon and pork.

One Harpnote:

She said she thinks there should be a czar of food that would be “cabinet level.” Uh, you’re running for mayor, not president. The only cabinet in the mayor’s office is the really expensive out of state armoire DeStefano bought some years ago.

posted by: Righteous Cyclist on August 1, 2013  9:39am

I sure would hate to live next to a chicken coup and a trash heap. How does that help REAL New Haven residents? That’s why Toni’s ideas are the best. Don’t let people do it in their backyard. Bring it to a city location, like a park or a vacant lot in Fair Haven.

posted by: OldYeller on August 1, 2013  9:41am

“A healthful food paradise envisioned..?”  According to Merriam-Webster, paradise is “an often imaginary place or state of utter perfection and happiness.”  I don’t think we need paradise.  Attainable improvements in our city’s food system that will help reduce crime, create jobs, feed hungry people and improve health were discussed last night.  That’s not paradise, that’s real potential.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on August 1, 2013  9:58am

posted by: robn on August 1, 2013 9:08am

Sounds like a victory for industrialized agriculture but in the end there’s reality; the economics of producing food at home will weigh heavily in a poor persons decision about whether or not to do so.

Not True.I start using the Hydroponic Garden system in 1969.

Now People have Windowfarms.


posted by: P Christopher Ozyck on August 1, 2013  10:00am

Urban ag is great. Connecting people back to the land must be done with an awareness to what’s in the soil.  Most soil in urban and suburban locations contain lead, other heavy metals, and residual pesticides such as arsenic. 

The new food czar will need to address this issue and help residence with knowledge and best practices for growing.  The city could also provide a transfer site for residents to bring potentially contaminated soil and pick up clean soil, compost, and mulch for a reduced fee.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on August 1, 2013  10:04am

posted by: Righteous Cyclist on August 1, 2013 9:39am

I sure would hate to live next to a chicken coup and a trash heap. How does that help REAL New Haven residents? That’s why Toni’s ideas are the best. Don’t let people do it in their backyard. Bring it to a city location, like a park or a vacant lot in Fair Haven.

City chicks: Backyard poultry making a comeback.


Backyard Chicken Farming Connects Families to Food

Environmentalists from Chappaqua and Irvington create short film on backyard chicken-farming


posted by: HhE on August 1, 2013  10:17am

Righteous Cyclist,

Across the street from me, a family keeps chickens, and I see no problem with it at all.  I know some other families that do, and it is a very positive experiance for them.  I have been considering doing the same:  not only would we have fresh eggs, but my children would have an educational experiance as well.

What is objectionable about composting?  (My next project?)  It reduces the amount of waste we need to contend with, and provides nutreants for plants.

Your reasoning here at the NHI seams to follow the line of

p1 Anything my candidate supports is The Good.

p2 I suport Sen. Harp.

c Whatever Sen. Harp says is good.

posted by: Noteworthy on August 1, 2013  10:23am

UnRighteous Notes:

1. Composting is not a trash heap. Sometimes it is contained and more often, it is turned over in a relatively small space. It is zero impact on neighbors.

2. Chickens in the backyard? Love the idea. Who would mind? Only those who give lip service to sustainable, organic food or buy it at the Coop while riding a bicycle.

3. Harp’s ideas are always bring it to the government, depend on the government to do for you what you can do for yourself. And why not? She lives in a mansion that poverty and the government bought. And her personal income comes from the same space - with the exception of the $10K a month she is paid from estate.

posted by: robn on August 1, 2013  10:39am


I think that’s really cool, but I’m not sure its realistic to expect someone with a limited income to drop $200 on a device that yields 4-5 heads of lettuce. As CO pointed out, our soil is highly contaminated so even if one were to plant outdoors, there’s still some expenditure on raised beds, equipment, hoses, nozzel’s, fertilizer, etc. This seems to work best in New Haven with pooled resources and community gardens. Raising livestock takes it up a notch in responsibility and cost. I don’t think its a viable alternative for a poor person. But maybe I’m wrong…it would be interesting to see a cost breakdown.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on August 1, 2013  11:44am

posted by: robn on August 1, 2013 10:39am


I think that’s really cool, but I’m not sure its realistic to expect someone with a limited income to drop $200 on a device that yields 4-5 heads of lettuce.

You are not just growing Lettuce.Also when crops are bad the price goes up.When you say there’s still some expenditure on raised beds, equipment, hoses, nozzel’s, fertilizer, etc. This seems to work best in New Haven with pooled resources and community gardens.I am talking about small units that fit in the apartments.My unit is in New York so when I go down I bring my stuff back up with me.Also Hydroponic Garden systems do not use soil.There is a store on the postRd in Orange that sells Hydroponic Garden systems.

posted by: HewNaven on August 1, 2013  11:47am

This was a good one. It was nice to hear the candidates talk about real issues that affect people in the city everyday, like FOOD POLICY! That said, some candidates were speaking from experience and others were literally reading off the page in front of them.  I look forward to whoever wins delivering on what they promised yesterday.

posted by: HewNaven on August 1, 2013  12:19pm

Its really not feasible for someone to produce their own food in a backyard in New Haven. They can supplement their diet somewhat, but producing all their own food is far off. I’d estimate that in ideal conditions, you would need at least a 1/2 acre to produce a year’s supply of food for an average family. That’s not going to happen in New Haven. Hydroponics is expensive to set up and requires constant nutritional input and energy to grow food. It is not a sustainable production method. Aquaponics which is more of a closed-loop production system looks promising. But, I have not seen any aquaponic systems yet in New Haven.

On top of the lack of available land to grow one’s own food, there are contamination issues as others have pointed out. There are also far too many trees shading our backyards in New Haven which is actually a positive thing for other reasons. Then, of course, there’s the lack of skills. I understand there is plenty of folk knowledge about growing food, but in order to maximize production it would be necessary to actually have farming experience with knowledge of the various plant diseases, pests, weeds, etc. and means to mitigate crop loss, since it would be your family’s food supply. Farming to the level of producing one’s diet would indeed be a profession that would require vocational training/experience. Finally, it costs time and money to turn your backyard into a production farm.

Despite all these deterrents to self-sufficiency, there is still an essential need to have small educational/community farms in the city (e.g. Common Ground, New Haven Farms). These places serve to educate the community about food and health/environmental-related issues and act as connecting points between urban residents and the agricultural/industrial system that feeds them. It is necessary that city-dwellers have the means to this experience if we are to understand where our food comes from and attempt stop the ravage of food-related health/social issues.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on August 1, 2013  12:25pm


I’m with you completely. Next people will start trying to domesticate wolves and have those around the household. Even then, I’d much prefer howling or some other guttural sound to the eardrum shattering clucking of chickens! And don’t even get me started on composting - why put in our backyards what we could shove underground in a landfill for future generations to deal with, right!?


Is that much of New Haven’s soil really contaminated? It seems to me that any land that hasn’t been redeveloped or used for industry should be fine, which would be most of the city outside of the downtown and neighborhood commercial centers/strips.

posted by: Razzie on August 1, 2013  12:31pm

Chickens, pigeons, pigs, etc. are highly unsanitary animals and attract rodents and other vermin. I am not interested in living next door to an urban animal farm and the unhealthy conditions they bring. I don’t even want to mention the sanitation problems associated with slaughtering animals for food purposes. Thank you very much, but I will get my milk and eggs from S&S or the corner market. Elicker’s urban farmsteading proposal may work better in his New Canaan hometown than in New Haven, with its higher population density and more financially strapped city government.

posted by: Righteous Cyclist on August 1, 2013  12:55pm

Thats to funny. Nobody who can afford to buy good food would grow it themselves. And nobody who’s working 3 jobs or raising 3 kids has time to plant a garden. I will bet you that less than 1% of New Haven residents grow ANY kind of food. 1% won’t win anyone the election. What OUR community needs is to get cheap food from the farms in to the city.

1. I don’t know how compost smell but manure smells bad.

2. Chickens make noise and stink. I do know that. I grew up around chicken.

3. Bad as chicken is, pigs are worse. Now people will want pigs, and the 1% candidates will probably listen to them.

4. Like robn said it’s cheaper to buy at the store.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on August 1, 2013  12:57pm

wow harp is anti urban chicken! After so many fought so hard! http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/hens_are_legal/

Look out Fair haven.

posted by: annethatcher on August 1, 2013  1:31pm

What I don’t hear in this discussion is food access. Not everyone has the time, the resources or the space to grow their own food. While I believe that growing food is an important component, let’s talk about those who need to buy their food This is the most difficult town I have ever lived in when it comes to grocery shopping. The only real option in the downtown core is Elm City Market and it is small and expensive for those on limited budgets. Those who have money either drive to a Stop-N-Shop or pay for Pea Pod to deliver.Those without pay higher prices at the corner markets which have limited supplies.  I don’t have an answer to this dilemma but I would like it to be included in the discussion. We also can look to other cities who are supporting new food initiatives such as Philadelphia: http://thefoodtrust.org/

posted by: tj1944 on August 1, 2013  1:31pm

For many years growing up in New Haven…Wallace St. area..my father always had a garden…and   a chicken coop maybe 4 chickens….and got eggs..and fresh fruit and vegetables all the time…..I support Elicker for Mayor he is the only one running for the people of the city….Harp does not connect with people…unless your a politician even then she has not much to say.,GO ELICKER

posted by: tj1944 on August 1, 2013  1:34pm

Harp sees worms on side walks and she thinks of food…gimme a break lol

posted by: cedarhillresident! on August 1, 2013  1:55pm

oh and….stop the presses….Rc found something bad about Elicker to complain about…he has a garden and chickens…what an evil man! I mean it is not as bad as harps family million dollar tax evasion or..the slum propertys…but…how dear he set a good example.

posted by: TheMadcap on August 1, 2013  2:17pm

People sometimes make compost bins in their kitchens, that’s how little it smells. You can’t compare manure, which is literally poop, to decaying leaves and food bits.

And chickens are actually pretty sanitary animals. The fact people think chickens are unsanitary is a great testament to the conditions many are kept in when far too many are kept in too tight a space.

Also I don’t know what you guys are imagining, but you make growing food into some ridiculous effort it’s not. People in fact grow good in New Haven, and they’re not all living in East Rock. You might want to go to the store but some people take satisfaction in eating food they’ve grown. You can also do it when poor! Most of us poors are in fact not so destitute we can’t afford some tomato plants or a few bags of soil.

posted by: Laissez Fair Haven on August 1, 2013  2:18pm

Jonathan Hopkins: Yes, much of the soil around here is contaminated.  Any structure built before 1978 is likely to contain lead paint, and between wear-and-tear and demolition/construction/renovation work (particularly sanding and scraping old paint), a lot of lead winds up in the surrounding soil because many contractors don’t follow lead-safe guidelines.  In fact, up until not so long ago, it was considered acceptable to sand or scrape old paint directly onto the ground.

In addition, lead arsenate used to be a common insecticide, and areas around major roadways can still be contaminated from now-banned leaded gas.  Add industrial contamination to the mix, and you’ve got a lot of toxic soil.

To the anti-compost contingent: compost is NOT garbage, and proper compost smells only of fresh dirt.  I know urban farming isn’t the solution for everyone—it doesn’t have to be expensive, but it is labor-intensive—but at least get your facts straight.

Righteous Cyclist: Are you counting New Haven’s public school kids in your 1%?  Because 100% of the kids at my son’s public school are growing food on the school grounds.

posted by: westville man on August 1, 2013  2:23pm

Fruit Loops & Apple Jacks!  Thanks for taking me back to the days when my breakfast was so good, another bowl was in order!

posted by: Mark Firla on August 1, 2013  2:24pm

Jonathan Hopkins: I don’t know the exact % of land that contaminated, but it’s higher than you might think. In addition to the normal industrial pollutants, heavy metals etc. the main problem is lead. The major sources for lead contamination as I understand it, were lead based paint and car exhaust from leaded gasoline, both of which were everywhere for decades. We live in Fair Haven, and when I had our soil tested this year, it was well over 10x the acceptable limit. I built a raised bed and made soil.

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on August 1, 2013  2:24pm

We have had a number of debates during this campaign. What we really need is a town meeting with all of the candidates in which real people can ask real questions about real issues of concern to them. Most New Haveners don’t ride bikes. Most do not and will not grow vegetables in their backyards. Most, thank God, do not raise chickens in their backyards. We don’t want city government telling us what to eat.
We are concerned about crime and violence, high taxes, government waste, potholes and dangerous sidewalks, city trees that endanger human life and limbs and property, equal access to equal quality education for all of our children, and other city services. So much time, energy and questions have been raised about issues that are not within the realm of a city mayor to resolve or address. I am waiting for the debates on foreign affairs, international trade regulation, global warming, the war in Afghanistan, the conflict in Egypt, world peace, exploration of Mars, and whether Anthony Weiner should run for Mayor of New York!
Why can’t the people have a forum with the candidates and ask their own questions directly? Why can’t this be arranged? Because so many of the forums which have been held have been 90 minutes long with 1-2 minute answers from the candidates and a large percentage of the questions asked of the candidates by the various moderators have been totally irrelevant to the average working class/ middle class New Haven resident.

posted by: westville man on August 1, 2013  2:47pm

TAP—  LOL!  Thnaks, i needed a good laugh today.  And i agree with most of your post, too!

posted by: anonymous on August 1, 2013  2:56pm

Thomas Paine: Go out and arrange a debate if that’s what you want. Perhaps you would see it takes very hard work—the same kind of work done by people who do not live for free in the city’s largest mansions as a result of their family’s slumlording, the same work done by people who have to bike or walk to work because they don’t have money even though they work 80 hours a week, and the same kind of work done by people who grow their own food because they don’t have lavish fundraisers thrown for them in Hamden every weekend, have to do.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on August 1, 2013  3:04pm

Thomas Alfred Paine
Very valid point. I think many of us wonder that to. But most of these debates have been sponsored by groups and the question that are important to that sponserd group are the ones asked..EX..Food, Art, PD, Street safety (which I thought would be more about crime but it was about the streets and transportation) I know by storys (although there are few about Henry, Elicker, and Carlona because the press has sold out) But I have looked for the answers I needed. ANd you can call the candidates and talk to them personally if you need to. My conclusion is Elicker is the best Henry (although a bit of an ass in the past) is now tied with Carolina for me. And Henry was below the plumer at one point for me…but he is growing and learning. Unlike harp and team who repeatedly stomp on the people. my 2 cents tom but you are right.

posted by: Righteous Cyclist on August 1, 2013  3:09pm

Cedarhill Elicker is being propped up as a perfect candidate, and too few people are online defending Toni. In work and in my old neighborhood, I don’t know a single person who supports Justin. Not one.

Why aren’t there scandals about the other candidates?

Why aren’t the other candidates families being put under hot lights?

Why is all the coverage of Toni set out to make her look like she doesn’t have an opinion or good. Ideas?

I can criticize Toni to. Nobody is perfect. She disappointed me when she accepted the Police Union endorsement. The NHPD is bad bad bad. DWB is common reason to stop people in the city. And the same union leadership raises alarms about arming yourself because police won’t respond in New Haven. They say New Haven isn’t safe, and then they make sure to keep it unsafe. They fight the chief to stay in cars instead of walking. I have a $5,000 Trek I can’t ride through Newhallvile because police don’t patrol the canal path. Toni didn’t talk about that in safe streets, and she should have. You need to be hard on the police because they are set in the old ways. It’s a bad mentality. So I wish she took a stand.

posted by: HewNaven on August 1, 2013  3:15pm

It is not any cheaper to raise your own hens for eggs. You can check other food products but this is one i know. Robn is right that the industrialized food system has won the battle of cost. But we have all Lost the connection with food. We need concrete ways to reconnect with real food (i.e. community farms). Then we’ll all be better informed and prepared to combat industrialized food systems that destroy our communities.

posted by: getyourfactstraight on August 1, 2013  3:58pm

We grow our own veggies and enjoy them through the ‘Fall’......
As far as chickens, I have no desire to have them but if a neighbor would and keeps everything clean I would buy eggs from her/him if that was available.
I think the whole concept and discussion around this topic is worthy and lets stop belly aching about this and turning it into a way to criticize a candidate. I love that this is part of a discussion and debate in the mayoral campaign. I don’t think we need to run out and hire a food czar to oversee all this and spend the money right now unless you are willing to cut something else that you feel is a waste in the city budget (and we certainly have a lot of waste)! Lets just enjoy this subject and listen and have all the candidates give this thought. Actually my husband and I save money during the summer when we grow our veggies. And they taste so much better than store bought! Most of us need ways to save money and that’s applicable across all neighborhoods.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on August 1, 2013  4:13pm

Righteous Cyclist

Henrys wife was just arrested…there is a scandal for ya ..but it is an arrest I personally would wear proudly if it was me.

RC think about it for a second I would rather have a guy like Justin as Mayor. No secrets, honest about what he can and can not do. No BS political one liner crap that these 20 year political types through at us; mostly which are lies but they know people are so desperate that they believe them. Promises of this and that just to get elected types! We had that crap with JD I can not do that again. We as a city need a break from that. Community’s like mine, newhallville, fair haven, the hill all need a person in office that can actually make a difference and not just promises because they have connections…JD did the same dam thing. I am sick and tired of that crap!
Justin is the real deal, he has no bad stuff on him because he is actually the good guy. He is running because he cares and knows he can make positive changes for the whole city from revenue to education, to outreach, jobs ect. The real deal RC and I think you know this to be true. Hugs sorry I have been hard on you :)


[Note: Kica Matos, who is married to Fernandez, was arrested as part of a civil-disobedience action at the U.S. Capitol by immigrant-rights activsts seeking action on immigration-reform legislation.]

posted by: TheMadcap on August 1, 2013  4:15pm

You can ride your bike on the Canal trail, we(as in the dozens to hundreds of people a day who are on the trail depending on the weather) do it quite often.

And if you want some buisness of family scandals about Elicker or Fernandez, you should try to go find them. I’m sure the Harp campaign would love them. It’s that just maybe, they don’t exist. Maybe they in fact paid their taxes and aren’t related to slumlords and don’t own a house in Bethany that may or may not have been their actual main address.

posted by: Razzie on August 1, 2013  4:18pm

Paine and Westville Man

I concur with the sentiments. Seems as tho somehow this election season, every community group found it convenient to seek street cred by hosting a “debate”. And all the candidates feel compelled to attend for fear that some terrible inference will be made from their absence. Plus, the forum style format hasn’t been the most productive for encouraging in-depth exploration of topics or meaningful follow up discussion.
Seems to me that more useful discussions will occur after we find out who the ballot access candidates will be. It is rather academic to include candidates who simply cannot make it onto the ballot for the Primary.

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on August 1, 2013  4:27pm

To anonymous and other Harp-haters:
I am so sick and tired of you people who keep harping about Toni Harp and her Westville home. Toni Harp and her husband, the late architect Wendell Harp worked and invested their money and spent many years constructing the home he designed. If you want to call it a “mansion”, so be it, but they worked for it. The Harp family owns it. Get over it. I am sorry you have to ride or walk to work and grow your own food to survive, but don’t hate Harp because you are not as successful financially as she and her late husband. Simply because a person is successful does not disqualify them for government service or make them insensitive to the needs of the less fortunate.
If you disagree with Senator Harp’s policies and positions on issues, broadcast it from East to West Rock. Most New Haven voters , however, are not concerned about the size or the location of the Harp home. We are concerned about the problems of this city and who is best experienced and equipped to help resolve them.
Just because Harp has money and a big house and you don’t is no reason to hate her.

posted by: HewNaven on August 1, 2013  4:29pm

Last night, Elicker explained that in other cities this position pays for itself through savings (e.g. waste reduction). So, no new money needs to be found for a food czar.

posted by: ELMCITYPROF on August 1, 2013  5:01pm

Privilege is certainly a curious thing. I’m always intrigued by the people who post comments on this site that are intended to shun what they see as other’s “privilege” without failing to acknowledge their own. Food access is a very important issue linked to broader concerns about social justice, educational performance, neighborhood safety, etc. With the exception of Mr. Keitazulu ALL of the candidates seem to be VERY financially privileged. So let’s take that off the table as the basis for evaluating whether a candidate can lead this city. What will these candidate do to address the fact that the availability AND cost of food varies widely based on where one lives? Why should the same item cost more at a store on Whalley than it does in Amity? Why did the city allow inner city residents to go without a credible grocery store for so long? It’s easy to critique the food choices that people make. Much more difficult to address the forces that constrain those choices. Beyond the rhetoric and personal snipes, what will these candidates do to navigate these problems? I’m still waiting for answers

posted by: TheMadcap on August 1, 2013  5:15pm

Here’s the thing about saying judge Toni Harp on her policies and positions. When it comes to releasing actual policy details for New Haven, of the three main candidates, Toni Harp has been the slowest and vaguest of the three main candidates.(Not to mention her rather lackluster debate performances) Toni Harp has wanted this campaign to be about Toni Harp the person, the 20 year state senator we’re supposed to trust because of experience and her longevity. So excuse us if we bring up facts about her like slumlord relatives and taxes not paid despite owning a gigantic house.

posted by: ISR on August 1, 2013  6:57pm

Mr. Paine: If Harp and family owned their home free and clear that would be admirable. But their real estate empire is in debt up the wazoo, and it is the biggest tax delinquent in what is it? The city? The state? Besides, Harp keeps reminding us that she knows nothing, while happy to run on Wendell’s “legacy.”

None of that is admirable.

posted by: HewNaven on August 1, 2013  7:25pm


You nailed it. There are no quick fixes to something as deeply entrenched as food production and distribution. The best we can do is hold forums/events like this regularly, inform residents of the issues, elevate the food policy council, and always
be vigilant consumers.

posted by: Curious on August 1, 2013  9:15pm

# Chickens and compost,

You can have both without your neighbors even knowing about it.  People slamming this need to get a grip.  Mind you, you also need a yard, and a lot of renters either A) don’t have a yard or B) don’t have permission from their landlord for either of these.

# Canal Trail,

A lot of the muggings don’t make the papers.  If you’re at Yale, however, you get alerts from campus police about them.  There are more muggings and bike-jackings on the Canal Trail than most people realize.

posted by: robn on August 1, 2013  9:38pm


I don’t hate Toni Harp. I hate the fact that she directly benefits from two decades of tax evasion and exploitation of the poor through decrepit rental housing; and she fails to admit it. That disqualifies her as a candidate for mayor of New Haven.

posted by: Christopher Schaefer on August 1, 2013  10:59pm

“Elicker said city zoners should create a ‘healthy food zone’ around schools, where stores can only sell healthy foods.” Presumably this would be enforced by the same folks who allow drugs to be sold where you see those “Drug Free Zone” signs.  Keitazulu: “We never went to the store to buy nothing”. Impossible! How could he have done that without a Food Policy Director overseeing a whole new level of municipal bureaucracy? “Carolina…said the schools should have mandatory home economics classes as in the past, to educate people on how to cook and eat well.” Agreed! I have numerous neighbors who live on pizza and McDonalds and who have told me they “don’t know how to cook”. “All the candidates talked about improving access to food assistance”—but if people could grow and cook at least some of their own, there’d be less need for this. “Elicker asked people to imagine if the city closed a street on a Saturday and converted it into a ‘walking promenade’ for outdoor dining.” Did I miss something? Has every neighborhood now been gentrified? Thomas Alfred Paine: “a large percentage of the questions asked of the candidates by the various moderators have been totally irrelevant to the average working class/ middle class New Haven resident.” And one could say that about this forum and all of the “debates” thus far.

posted by: Righteous Cyclist on August 1, 2013  11:41pm

Curious, yes that was my point and I realize it wasn’t clear. I’ve been threatened by hoodlums on the canal. It wasn’t common years back but summers now you can’t go near there with anything nice. I park at Quinnipiac and turn round at the tunnel near Home Depot.

These young kids don’t have anything positive in their lives to keep them off the street and out of trouble. That’s why I’m supporting the only candidate taking action to build programs to engage OUR youth. The conversation is only just beginning.

posted by: Stephen Harris on August 2, 2013  6:27am

How about setting up an East coast version of Pike Place where we can showcase Connecticut grown food and farm products year round.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on August 2, 2013  8:28pm

Chris S
I have to agree I liked Carolinas answer about the home ed. I think it all stems from single mother familys and or both parents working and coming home to tied and over worked to spend the time making a good meal so people go for frozen and fast. I know I am guilty of that…my son thought making mac and cheese was cooking. But when I realized what had happened I found a way to change that…I do a mass cooking on Sunday. Anf he now knows about healthy cooking. With that said I can not grow veg in my yard the soil is bad and raided beds and hydros are costly. I have cats and ground hogs that would eat what I did grow. But were there is a will there is a way…gutter gardens on the side of the house

or waterbottle gardens or milk jug gardens

it can be done on the cheap

posted by: HhE on August 2, 2013  9:14pm

Thomas Alfred Paine, will you be taking Razzie to task for her many East Rock Elites snipes? 

I do not hate Sen. Harp.

I scorn her for joining the race for this most important job over the weekend.  No one ought to run for such a position and role without careful study and reflection. 

I hold her in contempt for being the latest version of The Machine. 

I hold her in slight regard for not having actionable answers to our problems, yet speaking in a most patronizing way, “If you want to have a hybread School Board, that is okay, but…”

(I do love Henry V)

posted by: A Contrarian on August 5, 2013  9:53pm

I think eliminating junk food from food stamp purchases would be a way to start.  And having a farmer’s market where food stamps are taken by all the vendors.  Also, some healthy-living incentives must be built into Obamacare.