Lobster Rolls, Beer & Platform Politics

Paul Bass PhotoJonathan Wharton believes that plotting New Haven’s future and sampling draft beers can go together.

He is testing that proposition Thursday night at the City Point Kitchen.

New Haven’s Republican Party — yes, there still is one — is hosting a happy hour fundraiser at the 98 S. Water St. spot from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wharton, who as the new town chairman is working to revive the party, said he hopes this will be the first in a quarterly series of events mixing good food and drink with discussions about New Haven’s future. Or, as he put it in an interview Wednesday on WNHH radio’s “Dateline New Haven,” evenings filled with “lobster rolls, beer, and platform politics.”

Tickets cost $30. The price includes lots of food and a drink. (Beer and wine costs $5 after that.) Amid the socializing, attendees will also be asked to list their New haven policy priorities. (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address))

Since he took over the party this spring, Wharton, a political science professor at Southern Connecticut State University, has reignited a platform committee. He called platform-building and fundraising the first steps to grooming and running candidates for office. The Republicans currently constitute about 5 percent of registered voters in New Haven; the city has no Republicans in contested elected positions, from mayor and state legislator down to alder. (The city Republicans are running one candidate so far in this fall’s state races, Doug Losty, against incumbent Democrat Toni Walker in the 93rd General Assembly District.)

Wharton has also been appointed to the City Plan Commission. In Wednesday’s WNHH interview, he spoke about some positions he’d like to promote there. A top priority is seeing Long Wharf developed further in conjunction with a nearly $1 million state planning grant. He said he’d like to see residential buildings on parking lots along Sargent Drive as well as possibly the former Gateway Community College campus there, as part of mixed-use development.

“There’s a lot of potential there,” he said.

Citing recent delays in approving approving development projects in town, Wharton observed, “The politics are too often in the way. ... You have to wonder how much the [Yale-union supported elected officials] politicize this as an issue.”

Speaking personally (not for the Republican Town Committee), Wharton also came out in favor of building more cycletracks (protected bike lanes) in the city, renewing a 20-year tax abatement for the private owner of the Monterey Homes public-housing development in Dixwell, expanding Wooster Square’s national historic district, proceeding with a joint city quest in concert with Northland Development Corp. (but with extra scrutiny of the company’s performance) for $30 million in federal money to rebuild Church Street South, and for adding a central bus depot to the design for a new Union Station parking garage. He supported the city’s decision not to reimburse a citizen who spent $400 to improve the horseshoe pits at Goffe Street Park.

As for the upcoming rank-and-file no-confidence vote on the police chief? “I won’t touch that one,” he said.

Wharton reaffirmed that he will not vote for Donald Trump for president. He held out some hope that his party might nominate a moderate or Libertarian candidate (he mentioned John Kasich) at the upcoming national convention in Cleveland.

Wharton does not plan to attend that convention. His focus is local, right here in New Haven. Click on or download the audio file at the top of the story to hear all he had to say about his plans on the “Dateline New Haven” episode.

This episode of “Dateline New Haven” was made possible in parts thanks to financial support from Yale-New Haven Hospital.

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posted by: anonymous on June 29, 2016  1:26pm

The delays in approval of major development projects such as the Yale Biology Building should be a concern to everyone, considering the extent to which city residents rely on those jobs, and the extent to which the entire state’s economy is dependent on them. 

It seems like almost every week, another $100 million-plus development project is turned down by members of the Board of Alders, even by those with a clear conflict of interest.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on June 29, 2016  1:50pm

A one party town is not in the best interest of the people, so I congratulate Mr. Wharton on stepping up and trying to revive the GOP in NH.
Too often the GOP has been on the wrong side of social issues, rather than offering a positive agenda. Although I count myself in the progressive column, a fairer system of taxation, one that gives relief to the masses, rather than the privileged, would be something I’d support, as would other progressives and liberals.
Kasich came across as the most decent and experienced of the group of presidential candidates, but his opposition to women’s right to choose is loser, even with Republican women.
We need new ideas and people who can speak to them.
I wish you well in your efforts.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 29, 2016  3:03pm

. Wharton, who as the new town chairman is working to revive the party,

Give me a break.Both parties do their utmost to cooperate when it comes to engineering state electoral laws that shut out third party participation. Look up, “Duverger’s law.“The donkey and the elephant symbols of the two dominant political parties are tied at the hip.How come both parties are afraid of IRV Voting and Proportional representation?

posted by: Renewhavener on June 29, 2016  4:40pm

Hmmm.  Enjoy both opining on New Haven’s future and beer.  How appealing.

“There’s a lot of potential there [Long wharf],”  Perhaps.  But not as much as the potential as levering federal rail dollars to interconnect Tweed and Union:

Nor is there as much potential there as there would be in unleashing various tax credits while also forcing the State’s hand to prioritize data infrastructure projects as Professor Fred Carstensen at the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis suggested on the occasion of GE’s exit:

Decades of leftist rule has created an economic context where either the blind lead the blind backwards or efforts are exerted on so inclusively and on such a small scale that it couldn’t possibly make a difference. 

If there is a new narrative for the party would suggest it be economically grounded and frame breaking in scope.  Mr. Wharton, if you’re gonna have an idea, best to make it a big one.

P.S. @NHI, link to the RSVP is circular back to the article. [Ed: Fixed. Thanks.]