No one was home. So Gary Holder-Winfield wrote down his number on a flyer—not to his state legislative office, not to his mayoral campaign office, but to his personal cell phone.
Holder-Winfield left the flyer behind the mailbox on the porch on Clinton Avenue and continued walking Fair Haven trying to drum up interest in his quest to become New Haven’s next mayoral—with a personal touch.
He’s been doing a lot of walking. In between his duties at the state legislature, where he represents the 94th General Assembly District, Holder-Winfield has been squeezing in hours knocking on doors in New Haven neighborhoods, he said, telling people why he believe he’s the best person of the seven Democrats running to become New Haven’s next mayor.
He’s promising to be a mayor you can interact with after years of what he calls too little openness to people’s concerns from City Hall. Hence the personal cell phone number.
He left it at several doors as he canvassed Fair Haven Sunday after a visit to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church across town.
He said he’s gotten used to walking about 14 hours each day, and he doesn’t have special walking shoes. Sunday he walked in brown wing-tipped shoes and a navy blue suit.
His first stop was at Fair Haven Furniture on Blatchley Avenue, where he met store owner Kerry Triffin (pictured).
Immediately after meeting Holder-Winfield, Triffin told him that people often incorrectly call him Gary.
Holder-Winfield said people also mess up his name—calling him Gary “Holyfield,” like the boxer, or Gary “Winfield-Holder.”
“So why should I vote for you?” Triffin asked as his dog, Maple, sat at his feet.
Holder-Winfield said he wants to bring children’s advocates to city schools, where many students have experienced trauma. “These kids are on the battlefields,” he said.
The advocates would help them work through their issues and become less of a distraction to other students.
He also talked about his solutions for reducing the city’s crime and improving economic development. He said that walking patrol cops under the city’s revived community policing program should make more of an effort to get to know people on their neighborhood beats.
“I totally agree that the relationship needs to be developed,” Triffin said.
In the area of economic development, Holder-Winfield said more could be done to maximize the resources the city already has: Tweed Airport, I-91 and I-95, the rail system, the harbor and port.
“No other city in the state has a set up-like that,” he said. The city has lots to offer, he added. “If you want it, it’s in New Haven.”
After opening her door to Holder-Winfield, Barbara Proto (pictured) said Holder-Winfield reminded her of her daughter’s fiance.
“I hope he’s a good-looking guy,” Holder-Winfield said.
Proto said she liked his stance on community policing. She reminisced about living in housing projects and a security guard questioning the kids who were out after dark. “I think it made us feel safer,” she said.
Proto told Holder-Winfield the city has neglected Fair Haven. She said she was interested in the candidacy of Henry Fernandez, because he lives in the neighborhood.
“Other parts of the city look so clean,” Proto said. She spoke of properties with overgrown grass on her street: “It looks disgusting.”
Holder-Winfield, who lives in Newhallville, said he understood her feelings. He said the mayor should talks periodic walks through through each section of the city.
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