Candidates: Bikes, Chief Good. Each Other Bad

Slower car traffic. Bike-friendlier streets. The police chief.

At their latest debate Tuesday night, New Haven’s five Democratic mayoral candidates all agreed to love all of the above. They spent the rest of the evening pummeling each other—and, with one exception, finding no one else besides themselves they could imagine as mayor.

Kermit Carolina accused Toni Harp of being a slumlord and Sundiata Keitazulu of being a “paid” attack dog for her. Keitazulu attacked Carolina, Henry Fernandez and Justin Elicker—but not Harp—for failing to improve life in poor neighborhoods during their years in public service. Elicker attacked Harp for failing to lead more on traffic-calming proposals in Hartford and taking 20 years to discover local mismanagement of state money.

The topic for discussion was technically “safe streets” and “safe neighborhoods.” The occasion was the latest mayoral debate, at the Metropolitan Business Academy.

In practice, it became a tag-team wrestling match: Candidates Elicker, Carolina, and Fernandez taking aim at the presumed frontrunner, state Sen. Harp; and a fifth candidate, plumber Keitazulu, turning every question into an attack on Harp’s other three opponents while Harp herself stayed away from attacking.

The candidates were asked during the debate which opponent they’d like to see become mayor if they lose the race. Four refused to answer. Elicker chose Carolina. (Click on the play arrow to watch that discussion.)

Reginald Augustine IllustrationThroughout the evening, passions were high and the candidates at each other’s throats.

“You’ve seen a show tonight. That’s great for an election. That’s not great for running a city,” Elicker declared in his closing remarks.

“This has been democracy at work,” Henry Fernandez concluded.

A host of media organizations—La Voz Hispana, the Independent, the Register, Inner-City News—sponsored the debate, along with a variety of community organizations: The Democracy Fund, New Haven Votes, Elm City Cycling, the Safe Streets Coalition, the Violence Reduction Group, and community management teams. Event moderators Melissa Bailey of the New Haven Independent and Shahid Abdul-Karim of the New Haven Register asked the questions, chosen from among a batch submitted by the public.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Harp issued a public safety platform in time for the debate. She called for, among other ideas, financial incentives from the city to help cops and firefighters buy homes in New haven, a renewed focus on specialized police units to tackle narcotics and prostitution; and aggressive recruiting of neighborhood citizen participants for management teams.

Read on for a blow-by-blow live blog of the debate.

6:17 p.m. First question, from Elm City Cycling: Will you support 20 mile-per-hour speed limits citywide? How will you accomplish that?

Elicker starts by mentioning that he rode his bike here. (You wouldn’t know it by his suit!) He says he “absolutely” supports the citywide 20 mile-per-hour limit.

Fernandez: He too “absolutely” supports the limit. “This dramatically reduces the likelihood that there’ll be a fatality if someone is hit.” We can go “further” on cycling: a citywide bike-share program. (Like New York’s?) It’s striking how cycling advocates have become a potent city force in town; people seeking office see the need to support the cycling agenda. Fernandez also speaks about fixing broken sidewalks to help seniors walk safely.

Harp too supports the speed limit proposal. She mentions that she sponsored a traffic-calming program for upper Whalley Avenue. (Will that counteract the effects of the widening of Upper Whalley by the state Department of Transportation?)

Carolina says he too is an “avid bike-rider.” Says we need “pedestrian- and bike-friendly lanes.” And he supports the “20 is plenty movement,” aka the lower speed limit. He says he’ll lobby aldermen to support it, too. He mentions the need to solve the Gabrielle Lee case, the girl run over on Whalley Avenue.

Keitazulu supports it—and challenges Carolina about why he hasn’t gotten speed bumps or other traffic-calming near Hillhouse High School, where he’s the principal. And he challenges Elicker: You’re an alderman. Why haven’t you succeeded yet in promoting state streets?

6:23 p.m. Fernandez interjects to swing to Elicker’s defense: “Justin has been a real leader on this statewide.” Wow,

“I have not seen that in the inner city. I don’t see them around Newhallville!” Keitazulu responds.

Elicker defends his record as a traffic-calmer—then criticizes a “lack of state leadership” on the issue. In other words: Where has Harp, a state senator, been?

Harp mentions bond money that has gone toward traffic-calming. She says she and other New Haveners at the Capitol have pushed for a red-light camera bill supported by traffic-calmers, but the majority hasn’t gone along.

It’s starting fiery!

6:26 p.m. Do you support the new design for Route 34 with the 100 College Street project? This is a big issue for new urbanists. (Read about that here.)

Fernandez: It makes some improvements, but doesn’t go far enough. Road should have been narrower, with better access for cyclists.

Harp: It’s not true that traffic is too fast there. Gateway Community College’s new downtown campus has caused traffic jams. So yes, she’d like to see a redesign, but in part to make it easier to drive to Gateway.

Carolina: It needs to be better for cyclists. More raised roadway for cyclists and pedestrians. Use some of the wide lanes for off-street parking.  More evidence that cycling advocates have emerged as a force to reckon with in New Haven politics.

Keitazulu speaks about ... jobs. More city people should get work on the project, he says. “Nobody from the city gets no jobs out of this.” This may reflect how, coming from Newhallville, he might see traffic-calming, cycling and pedestrian issues downtown as less important than job creation.

Elicker: This is tricky. He calls out Harp on the cars question; I was waiting for someone to pick up on how her comment wasn’t actually speaking to the cycling community, but to other people (drivers) who don’t like traffic jams.

Fernandez again asks for a “quick rebuttal.” He’s piling on to Harp. He wants to mention that he was behind Gateway coming downtown when he was the city’s development administrator. And he says the traffic back-ups aren’t from the campus, but from construction on the 100 College project.

An Elicker-Fernandez alliance emerging here to take on presumed frontrunner Harp?

6:32 Question: Pick a neighborhood street, describe what you like about it, and tell us the city’s role in helping it? The question originally came from Brian Tang.

Harp’s “favorite street in New Haven is Edgewood Avenue.” Not a lot of commercial development. Organized well. A “park through the middle of it.” “it’s beautiful. It’s a place where children can play next to the park in the center of the street.” It has bicycle lanes.

Carolina: “Obviously Dixwell Avenue,” the heart of his support. (Click here about how many people he knows there.) Mentions old stores there, like Unique Boutique and Joe Grate’s barbecue. Mentions how streets used to be clean there, the “pride and unity” in the neighborhood “before politics and people were bought off in the community to support crooked politicians.”

Keitazulu: He too supports Dixwell Avenue. Then he accuses Carolina of promoting something called “Don’t come to school, I’ve got you covered” at Hillhouse, leaving kids to hang out on Dixwell. Looks like a second alliance is brewing here tonight: Keitazulu supporting Harp by attacking the other three candidates. Interesting subtexts and shifting alliances in this election!

6:36 Carolina shoots back at Keitazulu: “I hope they pay you well brother for selling out like this.” “I don’t know when the next time I saw you” at Hillhouse.

The two yell at each other; then Elicker takes his turn back to the question. His favorite street: “Grand Avenue because it is representative of what is great about our city and what can be better. The bustling small-business community there of individuals ... who need the support of the city to invest in streetscape and more predictable and reliable public transportation.”

Fernandez too mentions Grand Avenue as well as the street where he lives, East Pearl, which runs off Grand. He talks about neighbors working together to make it work, where “we all look out for each other” and his son is learning to ride a bicycle.

6:39 Is Project Longevity, that gang-fighting police initiative, racist? Or a good idea?

Carolina: The program “focuses on what people may do,” and “makes an entire group pay” for one individual doing wrong. (The program in part relies on group accountability: One member of a gang shoots again, authorities clamp down on everyone.) Yes, lock up people doing wrong, he said; he mentions his idea of “civil injunctions” barring people convicted of violent acts from hanging out with certain people in certain places.

Keitazulu goes back to attacking Harp’s opponents: Yes, Project longevity’s fine, but the big issue is getting jobs—and you, Henry Fernandez, didn’t get us jobs when you worked for John DeStefano as economic development administrator! “What have you done when you was there!”

Moderator Abdul-Karim reminds him that the question was something else: Is Project Longevity racist? Now Keitazulu answers: No. You should get arrested if you commit crimes. “I don’t care what color you are.”

Elicker: “We need to use every tool available” to stop the violence, which Project Longevity does.

Fernandez: “I do support Project Longevity. I think it’s a program actually developed by folks like Tracey Meares at Yale Law School”—one of his main early campaign supporters. Fernandez then speaks about “legitimacy” in policing: “Every interaction has to be perceived as legitimate.”

Harp supports Project Longevity, too.

6:47 Keitazulu jumps in again to Fernandez: “What did you do” when you were at City Hall?

Fernandez: “For 23 years I fought for this city… I developed youth programs for children who live in public housing projects. I have ensured that when schools like this were built, they were built by New Haven residents. ... Sundiata, I think it’s time to simply let it go. I have no idea how it is that you have decided that you are going to play whatever role you know this it is you’re going to play in this election. But up until now everyone has treated you with dignity and respect ... The point at which you determined that you were going to be a puppet for someone else”—Fernandez is on fire—“then I don’t think that you should any longer expect that at least three of us will continue to treat you that way.”

Sundiata: “What you have done in my community! Our community had the highest unemployment rate since you’ve been there! And you’re telling me you want to play Keno.” (?)

6:50 Question: What are you going to do to deal with absentee landlords, mortgage fraud, and slumlording that have plagued Newhallville?

Keitazulu: More vo-tech schools that rain young people to fix up those houses. Now he piles on again: To do that job that “Mr. Fernandez ... Mr. Eckler ... uh ... Mr. Carolina” never have. It’s kind of transparent: He leaves out Harp, who’s been a state senator for 20 years, in the group of people he wants to attack for not having changed the reality of New Haven while serving in public life.

Elicker: City Hall’s anti-blight agency, the Livable City Initiative, has to enforce existing rules much more on landlords. He mentions a fight he helped wage against notorious slumlords in Cedar Hill.

Fernandez: “I am the one candidate here who has prosecuted slumlords in this city.” He as LCI director actually brought in the government to prosecute slumlords—and to break up mortgage-fraudsters doing phony flips in poor neighborhoods, which he mentions now, too. “It’s something I spent seven years I think pretty successfully tackling.”

Harp mentions Newhallville efforts to provide homeownership for “worker housing,” something that, for instance, Neighborhood Housing Services does. “When an owner lives in a unit, things are much safer.” She gives a shout-out to ministers in the Promise Land project working with neighborhood groups on issues like that and better lighting.

Carolina: Harp’s family “was the biggest slumlord in New Haven.” Her supporters boo. Carolina says LCI should hold slumlords accountable. And make sure they don’t “abuse Section 8—like certain family businesses are doing in the city.” He means the Harps.

Harp responds; “All I can say is I didn’t have anything to do with my husband’s business or my son’s business.” Her late husband Wendell left behind the state’s biggest tax debt. Her son Matthew now runs the family business. “I think it’s a cheap shot. I’m really ashamed of him,” meaning Carolina, for attacking her like this.

Carolina: “I’ll take you to a number of those homes. I’ll let you speak to a number of residents of those streets. We’ll start with Rosette Street.”

6:55 Two lightning-round questions now, both submitted by Independent reader and commenter Three-Fifths.

Lightning round question one: Whom in the DeStefano administration would you keep if you win? All five say Dean Esserman, the police chief. Harp also mentions mayoral aide Becky Bombero and City Plan Director Karyn Gilvarg.

Lightning round question two: If you don’t win, whom else would you want to see become mayor? Fernandez declines to answer, then answers catcalls from the crowd, telling people “if you’d like to run, then you can sit up here, and you get to answer.” No one else answers the question, either, except Elicker. He says he’d choose Carolina if he doesn’t win. Click on the play arrow at the top of the story to watch the round. (Elicker later said he chose Carolina because Carolina participates in the public-financing Democracy Fund.)

7 p.m. Now candidates ask each other questions.

Harp touches on a sensitive question for Fernandez; His record as LCI chief going after a Dixwell not-for-profit that had received city money. Fernandez loves the question.

“The Dixwell Community Development Corporation was corrupt ... seemed to think its job” was to pay the “political” executive director well, not to build housing “and solve problems,” Fernandez says. Then he turns it on Harp: You were the alderwoman there at the time—and you never raised a question about “corrupt” misuse of public money by politically connected groups.

Paul Bass PhotoCarolina asks Keitazulu: “Why aren’t you willing to hold Sen. Toni Harp accountable for being a slumlord in neighborhoods you say you love and not paying taxes” while you attack the others? Keitazulu: “Nobody’s paying me nothing.” He disagrees with criticisms of her family’s record. Meanwhile, “children are running the streets wild” rather than being in Hillhouse High School. As well as running wild in the school, “having Mike Tyson fights.” Carolina: “This community knows my track record ... I have given you a pass for a long time. I was the one who parented your child at Hillhouse.” Whoa! Keitazulu’s daughter went to Hillhouse. Now Keitazulu accuses Carolina of “teaching” his child not to follow rules. This is getting personal!

7:04 p.m. Keitazulu to Elicker: “You wanted to give Yale [streets] away for free.” He’s referring to the recent city sale of parts of High and Wall streets to Yale for $3 million. He says that Elicker originally supported the final form of the deal, then opposed it when he became a mayoral candidate. Elicker denies he ever supported the deal. He says the deal “changed” during negotiations between Yale and the DeStefano administration.

7:06 Fernandez to Carolina: You grew up here. You built up sports programs. What do we need to do now for kids? A softball question—clearly not a candidate in Fernandez’s crosshairs. Carolina: “We need to make sure there’s a responsible adult in the lives of each and every one of our children.” Support two-parent households with both parents employed. Safe streets and safe school buildings.

7:08 Elicker to Harp: You said you’re running for mayor because you didn’t know how the city was spending city money. “Having been a state legislator for 20 years and chair of the Appropriations Committee, how could you not know how money was being spent?” And he mentions that Connecticut has the nation’s highest per capita debt.

Harp’s response: “There’s a difference between the executive and the legislative branch.” The state sends the money; the Board of Aldermen and the Board of Education decide how it’s spent. She did her job, she says: She got the money. Her supporters are cheering.

Elicker’s response: “As an alderman, it took me four years to figure out the Board of Education wasn’t spending money” well - “It didn’t take me 20 years!”

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posted by: anonymous on July 16, 2013  6:42pm

Who gave Senator Harp the idea that Edgewood Avenue has bicycle lanes? Many adults in Westville think that it is unsafe to ride on, particularly at rush hour, with no bike lanes, cars going 45 miles per hour and weaving traffic.

posted by: beyonddiscussion on July 16, 2013  8:53pm

Let’s look at who’s going to be a consensus builder and get good things done. Carolina? He tells everyone to shove it. Elicker? He can’t even work with his own Board of Aldermen - only one other alder supports him. Fernandez? For too many folk, he rules like John D. (my way or the highway). Only Toni Harp has a record of bringing folks together and building consensus.

posted by: Curious on July 16, 2013  9:27pm


Complete shift in attitude and campaign from Keitazulu.  Suddenly he’s got a command of all the candidates’ perceived weak spots EXCEPT Harp?  Huh.  That street-sale thing sounds spoon-fed from the Locals 34/35.

If Harp thinks cars don’t go too fast down by 100 College, she hasn’t been there on foot in years.  She’s OUT OF HER MIND for saying that.
You can’t try to cross the street anywhere near the med school without risking getting smashed by someone speeding or running a red light.  This is like saying it’s nighttime in the middle of the day.

Kid gloves are off folks.  It’s about to get interesting.

posted by: wendy1 on July 16, 2013  9:36pm

When is the public going to be allowed to ask questions that count like “are you going to raise our taxes” and “will you go after Yale Corp. and others for the big money we Need to keep New Haven running”.  We need more police and more housing for the homeless, more firemen, teachers not budget cuts that always hurt the poor.  I’m poor, I,m black, and I,m sick of being ignored.  The debates are poorly advertised and poorly attended. The majority of listeners are campaign workers already biased.

[Editor’s note: We did collect questions from the public. We solicited them through a telephone line and by email. Three-fifths, a commenter here, called in two questions that made it into the debate. We welcome any help in getting the word out about our next debate, Aug. 28 at Coop High.]

posted by: cedarhillresident! on July 16, 2013  9:36pm

ANON Please harp and the plumber where getting all the facts wrong it was sad….WE NEED THE TRUTH O METER!!!!!!

But with that said BEST debate ever! Elicker rocked it and so did Carolina. And yes Henry did well to.

posted by: NewHavenerToo on July 16, 2013  10:14pm

Omg…I can’t believe I missed this debate.  Wish I had been there.  Harp acting like she had NO knowledge of her family’s business is absurd.  Wonder if she has a clue that people actually live in those rundown properties and they actually have a mouth to speak their minds.  She needs to be ashamed of herself.  Makes me sick to even look at her.

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on July 16, 2013  10:54pm

I really thought the debate was too short. It started about 15 minutes late, and it ended in 60 minutes or less. Many of the questions were, shall I say it: stupid and irrelevant to most New Haveners. Asking candidates to endorse another candidate was a wasted question. The question “What is your favorite street in New Haven?” was a waste of my time. What percentage of New Haveners ride bikes regularly? Not enough to spend so much debate time discussing (Even though a biker group was one of the sponsors).  Most of us have never heard of “Project Longevity.”
Get different moderators. These two have done at least three debates already and they are not that great I am sorry to say. They are quite weak and if they are responsible for selecting the questions, it is really time for a change. They really lost control of this debate! There are other talented people in this city who can do this job. Get someone new for the next debate.
We need to have some type of town hall meeting with the candidates in which real people can ask real questions about real concerns and issues.
This debate was a tension-filled fiasco. Stressful. Shameful. Embarrassing. Personal. Vindictive. Insulting. Degrading. Disgraceful. We all know that democracy can be messy, but this debate was one big hot mess, probably unlike anything in modern New Haven history.
New Haveners are not interested in the personal animosity among the candidates. We have important issues in New Haven that need to be addressed. One of the things people need to look for in a candidate is level of maturity, temperament, self-control necessary to be mayor. A number childish things were done and said that would have set a poor example for our young people.
Establish better ground rules for the next debate or don’t waste our time.

posted by: Amityboy on July 16, 2013  11:05pm

It appears that Toni Harp has now bought out two of her—publicly financed, mind you—opponents yet instructed them to remain in the race for a while to attack her opponents. Before this debate, I disliked her. Now I am convinced she has no disregard for either the democratic process or the taxpayers of New Haven. Shame on Senator Harp. I will be doing everything I can from now until November to keep her out of city hall.

posted by: mrmike1 on July 16, 2013  11:22pm

It amazes me on just how little Toni Harp knows about what’s going on in this city. First she was shocked about the crime problem in Newhallville and now claims there are bike lanes on Edgewood. What’s next Macy’s is leaving New Haven.

posted by: Tell the Truth & Shame the Devil on July 17, 2013  7:28am

The debate was disappointing.
The supposed subject matter was left in the dust.
The outbursts were ignorant,  at best.
Point of order:
Toni Harp had nothing to do with SK’s LEAP OFF THE DEEP END.  I know for a fact. 

The next time a candidate becomes disrespectful and personal,  they should be escorted off the dais!

posted by: cedarhillresident! on July 17, 2013  7:29am


I am with you 100%. After watching last nights debate she went straight to the bottom for me. And saddly I donated to the plumber last night and as I listened to him and how obvious someone on unite got to him….I want a refund! I guess even the best of folks have a selling point…I and my neighbors all walked out sad after seeing that.

posted by: HewNaven on July 17, 2013  7:40am

Anon and CHR,

I second that. Bring back the Truth-O-Meter!!

Bike lanes on Edgewood?! Get a clue, Senator!

Keitazulu should not be invited to the next debate. That was a disgrace to the process.

posted by: HewNaven on July 17, 2013  7:42am

Also, can we have a story about the Harp properties. There have been some strong accusations about the conditions of those properties which could make or break the candidate.

posted by: HewNaven on July 17, 2013  7:48am


I heard Toni Harp’s favorite place to shop is the Yale Coop. And, her favorite local sports team is the New Haven Ravens, of course! She rides her bike down Edgewood Ave. to all the games.

Also, did anyone else notice her speeding out of there last night while the other candidates stayed to talk to voters? Is she really as uncomfortable as she seems around us normal people? Please tell me she had another appointment.

posted by: Tell the Truth & Shame the Devil on July 17, 2013  7:49am

with all due respect to the NI,  which I read daily,  your coverage is always Pro- Carolina swayed.  The caricature you have placed at the top of this article is what the Carolina campaign passed out prior to the debate.  Well,  the Harp Campaign circulated a real public safety policy.  Why is that not posted?
Be fair.

[Editor: Thanks for the comment. As soon as that policy came out, we referred to it near the top of the story, including mentioning specific ideas contained in it; and we will certainly continue covering the issue.]

posted by: Community_Activist on July 17, 2013  8:02am

People people people. Let’s get the pretenders in this race out, exit stage left Mr. Carolina and the plumber. It’s also time for Mr. Elicker to hit the old dusty trail, you screamed about Democracy Fund and the DeStefano administration all campaign rather than giving your own ideas on how to improve the city, it didn’t work and the people are sick of your act.  It’s all about Harp v. Fernandez, what a race it will be Money vs. Money, Unite Here v. Building trades, the former republican Jason Bartlett vs. Henry’s Campaign Manager. What an election fight it will be.  Let’s get ready for the real show.

posted by: robn on July 17, 2013  8:16am


I wish I had known that NHI was taking questions that were off the advertised topic of “Safe Streets”.

posted by: streever on July 17, 2013  8:17am

This is why the Unite folks are ridiculous—“consensus” with neither information nor ideas is useless. Yes, Harp can build consensus, around some feel-good ideas, but at the end of the day, she doesn’t have a single platform, doesn’t understand the city budget, and doesn’t even know what the streets in HER NEIGHBORHOOD are like. (Remember when she had the NHPD drive her around because she was too scared of her neighborhood, and had never seen some of the streets before?)

Let’s leave Harp in Hartford, where know-nothing do-nothings excel, and pick a Mayor who actually was able to name another person up there that he’d believe in as Mayor.

Fernandez and Harp can’t possibly imagine anyone but themselves as Mayor? Hubris & arrogance—not a surprise from a woman who declared herself the winner of the primary.

posted by: urban ed on July 17, 2013  8:36am

Flash back 22 years: Weary of the governance of a long-entrenched political machine, the voters of New Haven reject that machine’s candidate in the Democratic Primary and elect a popular state legislator with a solid legislative and constituent service record. At the end of the next four years, the city’s in financial ruins and that mayor’s own appointed board of education is suing him. He chooses not to run in the ‘93 election, paving the way for the return of the machine with a policy expert and proven manager who has never held elective office at its head. What follows is a painful recovery and learning curve but no one can argue that the city is in as bad shape now as it was then. (And if you do then it means you weren’t here living it with us.)

The lesson: Popularity and a good state legislative record are not prerequisites for a successful mayoralty in this city. (Senator Harp’s lackluster performance at debates and around town bear this out….red flags all over the place, for anyone who lived through the early 90s here.) Policy, Budget, and management expertise are. Let’s please skip another 4-yr ‘amateur hour’ and hire a good manager to continue to move us forward. In my mind, that means Henry or Justin.

Earlier, I was leaning toward Henry for all the reasons cited above. However, Justin has absolutely impressed me as a quick study, and an indefatigable by-the-bootstraps worker. I’ll probably be going back and forth until the primary. But I’m pretty sure who I won’t be voting for.

posted by: TheMadcap on July 17, 2013  8:36am

Dang, Keitazulu was on fire. Also the Rt.34 question once again shows(as if the geographic locations of her donations already didn’t) the interest behind Harp, and those interest generally involve the suburbs.

posted by: TheMadcap on July 17, 2013  8:53am

Also, in terms of keeping on current administration officials, in an upcoming debate I’d like to know if they’d keep on Jim Travers or not.

posted by: westville man on July 17, 2013  8:58am

I’ve witnessed 4 debates and it was very strange to see Sundiata’s transformation into a hatchet man who ignored many of the questions.  While he directed many of his ignorant rants a my candidate, Kermit Carolina, he went out of his way to say things about Elicker that were simply false and about Fernandez that were over the top.  He conspicuously left Harp alone. 
2 things- he has the most skeletons in his closet so he shouldnt be “throwing stones”;
and 2nd- that’s the last you’ll see of him as he wont get the needed votes in the petition drive to be on the ballet. We’ll have to see IF he shows up on the Harp campaign team soon.

posted by: robn on July 17, 2013  9:00am



posted by: HhE on July 17, 2013  9:46am

Spot on, westville man.

posted by: fmglover on July 17, 2013  10:02am

Shameful behavior on Keitazulu’s part, which I’d be willing to bet quite a lot was coordinated by either the Harp campaign or the unions. Spot on when Fernandez called him a “puppet.”

posted by: Curious on July 17, 2013  10:19am

Keitazulu already said (quoted in an earlier article by NHI) that he would likely drop out and support Harp.

I’m not sure WHY Harp, who seems to personify the kind of politician he has railed against (doesn’t know the city, doesn’t know it’s people) is the one he picked.  It’s disappointing to say the least.

posted by: Hieronymous on July 17, 2013  10:23am

I’d be curious to know the degree to which Keitazulu’s coffers swelled after the reporting period. He said a few weeks back that he was likely going to back out and endorse Harp unless he got some support. That appears to have prompted a few people to donate in good faith because they found his voice refreshing. I’ll bet a nickel though, that it also prompted the Harp folk to realize that they could prop this guy up and make him more useful than he would be as simply a plumber endorsing Toni Harp. (Although given NHI’s record of coverage back in June, it would likely have occasioned a write-up if a lone plumber officially endorsed Harp, but that’s a separate gripe.) Keeping Keitazulu in the race allows Harp to legally evade campaign finance rules and effectively get $1370 from her top donors. I’d be curious to know if that’s actually what’s happening. If so, Henry must be kicking himself that he didn’t think of it first.

Now, in fairness, I think Mike Stratton gave $370 to Keitazulu before the reporting deadline, but I’ve got to think that was an earnest donation from a guy with money to burn. If Elicker supporters want to be sneaky, they should be donating to Carolina, who’s very happy to take on the Harp attack dog role.

That reminds me. I mentioned this before, but I think it was in a comment where I also used a word to describe Henry that was inappropriate, if also used by almost everyone I know who’s met him, so the comment wasn’t posted:  NHI should take a stroll around the Upper Westville neighborhood to see what the neighbors think about the whole Harp/Carolina feud. As I understand it, they live just a few blocks from each other (and a few more blocks from DeStefano, Mayo, and the lady who sparked the Carolina cheating scandal, among possibly others). What are neighborhood picnics like up there?

posted by: Wikus van de Merwe on July 17, 2013  10:41am

It’s sad to see so much obvious shilling, and not being allowed to call them out individually on it.

posted by: Paul Wessel on July 17, 2013  11:04am

While great theater and in some ways good at getting at the candidates’ character, this event was less helpful at getting to the policy differences between the candidates.  Maybe the organizers could take inspiration from an approach to presidential debate moderation advocated by Aaron Sorkin’s Newsroom show.  Check it out at:

posted by: bwalker49 on July 17, 2013  11:10am

This debate was awful, the people hosting lost control and should have excorted anyone out who did not adher to the process out.  I believe that Toni has a record and does not have to buy someone to distract from the issues.  You should be asking why all 3 men on the panel went after Toni personally and not the issues.  I want to hear about the issues and which one of these candidates will be good for the City of New Haven, not about personal attacks.

posted by: Webblog1 on July 17, 2013  11:20am

I have to question the usefulness of these debates, first the questions are one-liners and the candidates receive two minutes to respond and one minute rebuttal time. Hardly enough time to allow a cadidate to fram her/his conceive plan or general out look to a perceive problem.

The format of questions really do not allow one to call into question, whether or not there is a problem in the area the question seeks to resolve.

I cannot determine why nearly 90% of the questions are in the area of which John DeStafano has repeately stated in his state of the city address’s annually, and now claims he has been sucessfull in all areas, wile no one has challenge his facts.

It seems to me that to determine the validity of a candidate position, they should be allow five minutes or more to outline the problem and propose a resolution. We don’t get that here, nor, in any of the debates thus far.

what we are getting for the most part are is generic answers meant nor to cause ill harm towards any special interest group.
For example, the question of bike lanes and the 20 mile per hour rule. All answers except Keitazulu were safe. In reality, do you realistic believe the city could or would reset the speed limit to 2o mph? who would enforce that? traffic would be backed up for miles on main through-fares… NOT!

Currently, only Henry and Elicker have out-lined problems and solutions on their web-sites, but elickers 75 solutions in 75 days is way over the top, and Henry’s are straight out of the Destafano’s how to hand book.
Finally, Elicker would support Carolina for Mayor, when one of his solutions calls for education reform from top to bottom..strange choice.

Nearly Out of Characters,

More later.

posted by: elmcityresident on July 17, 2013  11:44am

I’m definietl not voting for Harp thats like voting Destefano in again!Kermit seems to really care about the people being that he’s right from the urban community he can relate to our struggles better abd what the city needs as a whole BUT whomever is voted in i hope they look into the board of ed.‘s policies pertaining to the magnet lottery, i feel its ashame that our kids are alway picked last our not at all for schools in our district.

posted by: urban ed on July 17, 2013  1:29pm

@robn: Your posts reveal you as a reasonable person. Don’t always agree, but always attend to what you write. I consider a “Ditto” from you to be high praise. Thank-you. Also, confirmation that I may not be crazy. I mean, remembering those dark days and watching the campaign and having that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach: “We’ve been here before….oh, nonononononono please no.” Are you and I the only folks who remember those days? I love the community participation of this forum and the thought and energy of all the recent additions to our community (recent for me = within the last 25 yrs that I’ve been here) but everyone’s jumping on bandwagons now without recognizing that at least one of those bandwagons has four flat tires, varnish in the gas tank, and a “Daniels ‘89” bumper sticker.

posted by: Curious on July 17, 2013  1:32pm

Does “one city” have some kind of special significance?  I just re-read this article and see Candelaria using it:

posted by: stick21 on July 17, 2013  1:43pm

There you have it ladies and gents. Didn’t see this coming. Keitazulu knows all these candidates better than their own backers. He has a clear grasp on who should be the next mayor of our city. LOL

At some point Carolina will back Elicker seeing that he is the only one running who is willing to overlook all the problems he has caused at Hillhouse and elsewhere….The Iron Fist Rule…. And they call Destefano “KING jOHN”.

Harp being the frontrunner is bringing out the evil in these folks…

Please just stick to the questions asked and give the people an honest answer, we know the difference in character of the three amigos who are not going to give the plumber a pass any longer.  PASS attack mob

posted by: ELMCITYPROF on July 17, 2013  2:06pm

What a shameful display of ego and arrogance on display. After 4,217 debates we still know more about candidates’ parenting than we do about their ACTIONABLE plans for this city. I refuse to attend another debate filled with softball nonsensical questions that are better suited for a middle schoolers essay than a mayoral debate. I like Carolina’s passion but there’s something quite inappropriate abt hearing a principal make comments like “I was more of a father to your daughter” in such a public setting. Harp needs to address these financial allegations head on rather than dismissing them. It’s starting to sound utterly ridiculous The people of NH need and deserve better than last n8ght’s ridiculous display.

posted by: urban ed on July 17, 2013  2:08pm

@elmcityresident: The lottery is one of several things that cannot be easily done away with. When the school system was nearly bankrupt and many schools were literally coming apart, the city made the decision to construct/reconstitute schools as *interdistrict* magnet schools, receiving a higher state reimbursement rate for construction/renovation and state and federal monies for operation, predicated on the number of out-of-New Haven students each school could enroll. (it was the days of the state trying to settle ‘Sheff v. O’Neil’ and state money for that purpose was flowing freely.) Changing that would require special legislation at the state level, waivers at the federal level, and, potentially, city purchase of all those schools. I just don’t see that happening, at least in the current economy. Given all of the above, the fact that we still have attendance-zone schools at all, most of them renovated, is nothing short of miraculous. Better use of time, energy and dollars is to continue to improve the schools as they exist.

Like many, I entered my kids in the lottery last year and they got royally effed. But they got placed in a brand-new ‘overflow’ school. Their growth this year has been stunning, and I absolutely don’t want them anywhere else until they age out. There are pockets of excellence all over the district: magnet, neighborhood, and overflow schools alike. The trick is to continue to spread that excellence all over the district. And as a district employee, I know that there are many many gifted individuals working in good faith to make this happen.

posted by: westville man on July 17, 2013  2:16pm

Urban Ed-  It appears you are comparing Daniels to both Carolina & Harp, from reading your post.  Apples & oranges, I think, except i guess if you mean that all of them are Black, which i doubt you do.
Different attributes, different backgrounds, different economy, different generation, different times. Too much of a stretch for me for a valid comparison, Robn’s “ditto notwithstanding.

posted by: urban ed on July 17, 2013  2:46pm

@westville man: Yes. I am comparing Senator Harp and Principal Carolina to Mayor Daniels. And Certainly Not because they are all black. And yes: “Different attributes, different backgrounds, different economy, different generation, different times.” Yes. Absolutely. But for me, the point of comparison, the place where I get hung up is this: All are/were diligent public servants with positive records in their respective fields of influence. (notwithstanding Mr. C.‘s difficulties—Jury’s still out on that, as we’ve been told very clearly) And those records correlate(ed) not at all with the qualifications necessary to be mayor of this city. Only my opinion, take it for the two cents or less that it’s worth. But I was there, and I don’t want to go back, and I have a sinking feeling that that is where we’re headed.

posted by: westville man on July 17, 2013  3:13pm

Urban Ed-  where we do agree is that I think we might be heading in that direction too- but because Mayor John has been playing a shell game with finances for years that will cost us dearly.
Much like what Bush II did for 8 years with the budget.
So whomever gets in will have their hands full.

posted by: urban ed on July 17, 2013  3:39pm

@westville man: We can agree on that 100%. (Referencing my earlier post: just because we are better off now v. 20 years ago doesn’t mean we are not also seemingly screwed.) Our duty then as electors is to vote for the person we feel can best chart a course out of the morass. And I am starting to form opinions about whom I think can and cannot do that. But a lot can happen in this city in 1 1/2 months, right?

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on July 17, 2013  5:11pm

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on July 16, 2013 10:54pm

I really thought the debate was too short. It started about 15 minutes late, and it ended in 60 minutes or less. Many of the questions were, shall I say it: stupid and irrelevant to most New Haveners. Asking candidates to endorse another candidate was a wasted question. The question “What is your favorite street in New Haven?” was a waste of my time. What percentage of New Haveners ride bikes regularly? Not enough to spend so much debate time discussing (Even though a biker group was one of the sponsors).  Most of us have never heard of “Project Longevity.”

what may be a waste of your time or A dumb question,It is not a waste of time to others.

posted by: Community_Activist on July 17, 2013 8:02am

People people people. Let’s get the pretenders in this race out, exit stage left Mr. Carolina and the plumber.

When politicians are allowed to serve indefinitely, their focus changes. Getting re-elected becomes paramount pleasing special interests and major contributors becomes their motus operandi protecting their power becomes the motivator behind political decisions and their voting record and in the end, the public loses.

How about politically-motivated vindictive investigation on Kermit Carolina.I did not hear no one crying about this or calling it a cheap shot.In fact people wrote on this site about it.It is called Opposition political research it is used by all political camps,exhuming skeletons in candidates closets.And the fruits of that labor often winds up in the headlines.Take bets more will be coming on all.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on July 17, 2013  8:27pm

urban ed,

While I mostly agree with your fundamental point, you are too unfair to Mayor Daniels. He was handed a $20 Million budget shortfall the day he stepped into office. You also give Mayor DeStefano more praise than is due. The School Construction Program, while beneficial in many ways, has also been plagued with severe problems, like poor planning (John Daniels School on Congress Avenue), inadequate oversight to ensure that building designs are within State standards (State audits), and school reform that entered into the discussion far too late (about 13 years late), among other issues.

posted by: Curious on July 18, 2013  10:16am

So what would a Mayor Toni Harp do when handed a city on the brink of bankruptcy? 

So far all she has said is that we need to squeeze more money out of Yale and tax the local churches. 

Is that the stunning economic policy crafted by Matt Nemerson, who dropped out to support her and run her economic team?

What about Carolina, Elicker, or Fernandez, for that matter?

posted by: Xavier on July 18, 2013  1:43pm

Maybe the Plumber Guy should have chosen to after Carolina instead of the Senator?

One City Henry continues to impress, calm, cool, and reserved (we saw just a glimpse of his testosterone filled personality.

One City Henry, even when it is 100 degrees, he remains cool. He is the most interesting candidate for mayor.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on July 18, 2013  2:00pm

Ok Xavier that was cute :) I got it :)

I am still supporting Elicker. But I will say one thing about your guy. I submitted one question to the debate…it was not asked. But your candidate did address it as his closing remarks and I cheered cause it was spot on.

posted by: urban ed on July 18, 2013  2:32pm

@Jonathan Hopkins: You may be right on both counts. I voted for mayor Daniels and I remember him being earnest and kind during that 89 campaign. When it all went south I felt a sense of betrayal, which has lingered. But in looking at it more soberly, I just have to conclude that in spite of Mayor Daniels’s kindness, earnestness, empathy…he was never qualified to be mayor.

John Destefano brought a management ethos to the job that served us well, but yes, he made major missteps, served the machine and his backers too much, bullied his way through the rough spots…and frequently picked Peter’s pocket to pay Paul. Still better off now as a city than in ‘93, but what all that means for our future we have yet to fully learn.

Which gets to my essential point: Our governance structure and the Way Things Get Done Here require a qualified Manager in the mayor’s chair. More so if we’re going to have to be cleaning up a big mess. I see only two in the field right now.

posted by: TwoThirds on July 18, 2013  3:20pm

The way that the other candidates treated Senator Harp was utterly embarrassing to the integrity of our city. Respect, above all else, should be a priority in debates—rather than trying to find dirt(that, in this case, she isn’t even connected to).

It is a new low for some if all they can do is insult other candidates. Surely, there must be something they can do—perhaps, help New Haveners—instead.

posted by: Anstress Farwell on July 18, 2013  5:12pm

The debate was a fiasco. I went with a group of people involved in environmental justice issues in the city. They had submitted a number of questions, including ones on green infrastructure and sustainable ways to control costs for the sewage treatment plant. We were told that some of the the EJ questions would be part of the debate, so we rescheduled the regular meeting time of the New Haven Environmental Justice Network in order to attend the debate.

Not only were important questions regarding air and water quality not posed to the candidates, but absurd and provocative ones were. These bloody questions were a waste of time, and brought out the worst behavior in a few of the candidates. While the candidates who took the bait are responsible for their own behavior, the organizers bear responsibility for, in essence,  giving a match to some arsonists. “Lead not into temptation…”

Additionally, the cheep-shot questions had nothing to do with the advertised topic os the debate, “Safe Streets and Safe Neighborhoods.” Where these important topics just a pretext? Who approved the questions? Did the publicly funded Democracy Fund, a sponsor of the event approve the bloody-minded questions? Although one organizer stood up and said, “This is democracy,” what happened was not democracy—it was a degrading media circus. Some minor portion of the public does delight in sanguinary entertainments. Tossing people to the lions has never been about building community, much less democracy.

The debate sponsored by the Arts Council the previous night was carefully organized, well managed, warm and welcoming. The questions were serious and pertinent. In the respectful and intense atmosphere created by these good preparations, every candidate had a chance to excel, and did, in different and some unexpected ways. I was very glad to learned new things about each person. I hope the next debates will adopt a better model.

posted by: urban ed on July 18, 2013  6:28pm

@TwoThirds: There is a certain baseline level of respect that is due all fellow humans. Beyond that, respect must be earned, and it can be lost. Senator Harp has lost a lot of respect in my eyes in the last 24 hours.

And although I do not support his candidacy, Mr. Carolina may have done more to help the New Haveners of that atrocity of a Harp building at 91 Rosette last night than anyone has in a long time.

posted by: anonymous on July 19, 2013  7:01am

Anstress, I think someone should schedule another debate specifically about environmental justice and transportation.  I think the moderators chose the questions for this one.

posted by: LynneB on July 19, 2013  9:29am

I thought it was a debate about public safety.  Our questions about raw sewage in the rivers and exposure to hazardous chemicals from the sewer plant incineration are very relevant and timely.

1)  The sewer plant has a long term control plan to reduce raw sewage in our rivers - phase I includes expanding the sewer plant and raising our rates 40% over 5 years when there are other options that are effective and don’t cost as much. They will be applying for state permits soon.  So far, their plan is devoid of meaningful public participation despite our efforts to have a seat at the table where decisions are made.  see

2) The sewer plant’s sludge incineration contracts are up for renewal this year - the sewer plant trucks in 6500 + tons of sludge from other cities and incinerates it here every year, they release 28 pounds of mercury into our air every year by doing this - why do you think we have so much mercury in our fish - how many people do you see fishing from our bridges and feeding their families fish contaminated with mercury?  Mercury damages our kidneys, nervous system and causes birth defects.  The National Resource Defense Council’s calculator for safe mercury consumption means that children weighing 45 # can only safely eat our local fish once every 2 months.  Pregnant women should be extremely careful about eating local fish as well. 

These are public safety issues that affect all of us.  It would have been better if the debate hosts had said that it is only public safety related to riding bicycles and crossing streets. There are so many other issues related to public safety.

posted by: robn on July 19, 2013  9:48am


Great point. If anyone reading this fishes in local waters for consumption, please go to this site for safety recommendations in English and Spanish

posted by: LynneB on July 20, 2013  9:42am

Unfortunately, I don’t see New Haven Harbor listed as a site in the State Advisory when in fact the inner harbor has very high levels of toxic chemicals and local fish contain mercury, PCBs and probably other unmeasured hazardous chemicals.  People need to know.

posted by: Christopher Schaefer on July 22, 2013  8:04am

“Elicker attacked Harp for…taking 20 years to discover local mismanagement of state money.” Not to worry: if she becomes mayor we’ll be stuck with her for 20 years—so she’ll have 20 years to figure out New Haven’s chronic mismanagement of money. Harp “called for, among other ideas…renewed focus on specialized police units to tackle narcotics and prostitution”. Yet, as a state legislator, she had MUCH more power to tackle the ROOT CAUSES that lead people to drug dealing and prostitution—And she did NOTHING. “Will you support 20 mile-per-hour speed limits citywide?” Irrelevant question: CURRENT speed limits are not enforced. Fernandez: “This dramatically reduces the likelihood that there’ll be a fatality if someone is hit.” Clueless answer: see my previous sentence. Harp “mentions that she sponsored a traffic-calming program for upper Whalley Avenue.” Finally! She actually takes the blame for that fiasco. Fernnadez “says the traffic back-ups aren’t from the [Gateway] campus, but from construction on the 100 College project.” So why did traffic back-ups begin when the campus opened—BEFORE 100 College construction began? Harp: “All I can say is I didn’t have anything to do with my husband’s business or my son’s business.” She should make that her campaign slogan. I can just picture it on lawn signs all over the city: “Vote Toni Harp: She had nothing to do with it”.