Kermit Carolina “Explores” Mayoral Run

Paul Bass PhotoAs he began officially exploring a run for mayor, Hillhouse High Principal Kermit Carolina stressed his New Haven roots and pledged to participate in the city’s clean elections program.

Carolina (pictured) announced Tuesday that he is forming a committee to explore a run for mayor. He would be the fifth candidate to enter the race, joining East Rock Alderman Justin Elicker, Newhallville state Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield, former economic development director Henry Fernandez and a Newhallville plumber named Sundiata Keitazulu.

All the candidates, including Carolina, are Democrats running to replace Mayor John DeStefano, who plans to retire at the end of the year after two decades in office. The Democratic primary is scheduled for Sept. 10.

In a press release Tuesday, Carolina said people have been encouraging him to run for mayor for months.

“After very careful consideration, I have decided to form an Exploratory Committee to get a more formalized assessment of whether or not I should seek public office.”

Unlike Elicker, Holder-Winfield and Fernandez, Carolina was born and raised in New Haven. He emphasized his local roots. “As a lifelong resident of the City of New Haven, my strong connection to and love for this city have served as the foundation for my many years of public service here. New Haven has been the only place that I have called home, and the public school system is the only place where my children have gone to school.”

Carolina brings to the race years of relationships built during his childhood in Elm Haven projects, his time as Hillhouse basketball coach, and most recently as principal. He began positioning himself as a vocal critic of DeStefano over the past year, as he fought back against an investigation into allegations of grade-tampering at his high school.

Carolina received a three-day suspension in connection to the investigation; he has maintained his innocence and is challenging the punishment through a grievance process.

Carolina said he plans to participate in the Democracy Fund, the city’s public campaign financing program. Elicker and Holder-Winfield are already participating; Fernandez has said he will not do so.

“Although potential candidates who form Exploratory Committees typically raise funds while doing so, in keeping with the spirit of the Democracy Fund I have decided not to raise any money during the Exploratory Committee phase,” Carolina said.

Carolina also announced the membership of his exploratory committee (pictured below), which, the release states, “not only consists entirely of New Haven residents, but also consists of a cross-section of the city.”

Chris Volpe Photo

Seated from left to right: Gary Gates; Anne W. Lozon; Kristin Horneffer; Teretha Brooks; Darrell Allick.

Standing Middle row: Samantha Reaves (Co-Chair); Edwin Martinez; Kermit Carolina; Jack Paulishen (Co-Chair); Darryl Brackeen, Jr.; Miriam J. James.

Back row: Bob Pellegrino, Esq., Percy Penn; David Newton.

Missing from photo: Taneha Edwards; Samantha Myers; Bess Spann.

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posted by: anonymous on April 2, 2013  10:34am

“Carolina said he plans to participate in the Democracy Fund, the city’s public campaign financing program.”

Good choice.  As far as I’m concerned, there are only four candidates for Mayor - i.e., the four who have indicated that they will participate in public campaign financing.

posted by: HewNaven on April 2, 2013  10:34am

So at this point, we’re looking at the very strong possibility of someone “winning” the Democratic primary with 25-35% of the vote. Yet another reason to endorse a more progressive election process (e.g. instant run-off). Without such a process, a candidate would be silly to not run in the general election having lost the primary with such minor support. That explains Elicker’s decision to run in both elections. Its common sense strategy.

posted by: mechanic on April 2, 2013  10:40am

If he does decide to run, I think he should at least take a leave of absence from Hillhouse.

posted by: Wooster Squared on April 2, 2013  10:46am

I’m glad to see Mr. Carolina is planning on using the Democracy fund. It’s refreshing to see so many of the candidates making a break with the pay to play politics of the past.

posted by: Greg-Morehead on April 2, 2013  11:16am

I’m all for democracy, but as one African American to another, shouldn’t they all meet(african American contenders) and say ok, who has more influence, who out of us here has the support to win.  Lets get behind one person and let others know that would support me, to vote for you.  Isn’t that the ideal way to do things?  Is it just me or will all of the African Americans running split the votes?  This happens all of the time in our communities and then African Americans are surprised when our people DON’t win the elections.  If everybody stops trying to be the H.N.I.C., take a stand behind 1 person, then MAYBE we can get in office.  Until that day, its not going to happen, captain!  And this is only April..  More people are going to appear and get on the ballot.  When are our people going to wake up….

For some reason I thought Michael Jefferson would be in the above picture.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on April 2, 2013  11:28am

Fantastic another candidate that will only owe the voters!

and Keitazulu

All part of the Democracy Fund! BRAVO!!!!

and Henry (destefano 2.0) has declined to be part of this. I recall a comment in the comment section that said if the other candidates could get a half million they to would not be part of the fund….
News Flash: every candidate can get that kind of doe from the Pac’s and contractors. But all have decided that they do not want to owe those people and company’s the favor’s that come along with taking it!

So as of this point we have 4 honest candidates that are about a better New Haven not the same old administration games and Bull crap. And it all start with not OWNING ANYONE BUT THE PEOPLE!

Bravo to all 4!

And agree we do need runoff. New Haven has become the poster child of why.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on April 2, 2013  12:31pm

posted by: Greg-Morehead on April 2, 2013 11:16am
I’m all for democracy, but as one African American to another, shouldn’t they all meet(african American contenders) and say ok, who has more influence, who out of us here has the support to win.  Lets get behind one person and let others know that would support me, to vote for you.  Isn’t that the ideal way to do things?

Why should they meet.You have white folks runing and this is not a problem.In fact white folks who run for office always have more then one contenders.

If everybody stops trying to be the H.N.I.C., take a stand behind 1 person, then MAYBE we can get in office.  Until that day, its not going to happen, captain!

The only way that we can get in offfice is the system of proportional representation.

posted by: robn on April 2, 2013  12:55pm


I second the motion on IRV. Was this NOT a part of the charter discussion because its against state law or because the current party machine doesn’t like it?

posted by: robn on April 2, 2013  1:01pm

In Atlanta, school cheating scandals generate arrests; in New Haven they generate mayoral runs.

posted by: SaveOurCity on April 2, 2013  1:10pm

Morehead - your comments are very disappointing (and some would say racist).  Why do we need to propagate a black vs white society?  This isn’t the case when there are multiple hispanics, lawyers, Yale grads,...etc. 

Let’s move towards MLK’s vision where men are judges by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.

posted by: Webblog1 on April 2, 2013  1:40pm

After being disciplined with 3 days off, you following with a tirade on the steps of city hall claiming that “you will not back down”, then you performed community service at the food kitchen which many took it as an admission of guilt.

I’m perplexed, why do you want to do this in light of other good candidates already in the race. I guess every-one wants their 15 minutes of fame!

posted by: westville man on April 2, 2013  3:00pm

I am breaking my self-imposed silence to refute 2 ridiculous posts here:
Robn- i recall your posts about Kerm last year and merely ask that you READ the report and the power point reply to it- you’ll see there was NO cheating going on, no grade inflation happening, much to your chagrin. I know that you support Elicker but dont let that get in the way of the truth.
Webblog1-  Far from “admitting guilt” Kermit has filed opposition papers to both the lawsuit and the suspension.  Stay tuned to the eventual outcome and even you might surprised at how it ends. Hint: allegations dont equal truth.
I have known Kermit over 20 yrs and he is a man of the highest principles and loves this city. His accomplishments will dwarf the other candidates. And he will be our next Mayor.

posted by: taodhdaodh on April 2, 2013  3:08pm

Can anyone explain why this man is qualified to be mayor? Being a high school principal is a seriously important job, and kudos to him for doing it (cheating allegations aside), but I’ve never thought of it as a proving grounds or stepping stone to public office (beyond perhaps superintendent of schools).  I’m somewhat new to town, so I don’t know if he’s done anything beyond being a principal.  If not, I’m really finding it hard to understand how he’s different from the plumber, except that he gained some notoriety due to a cheating scandal and somehow turned that into a positive by calling press conferences on the schoolhouse steps. I think I’d take the plumber over this opportunist.

posted by: robn on April 2, 2013  3:41pm


I did read the report and taken at face value, it looked like poor performing student athletes were being willfully shifted into easy summer school courses to inflate their grades. I look forward hearing more about the lawsuit since civil actions are usually public and I’m sure the NHI will follow up.

posted by: Webblog1 on April 2, 2013  4:27pm

Westville man,
I don’t doubt that Carolina “is a man of the highest principles and loves this city”.

However your statement that “His accomplishments will dwarf the other candidates”. Leaves much to be desired.

For example, 2012 Hillhouse high school % at or above proficiency:

Reading: 39.7%
Writing: 56.7%
Science: 36.0%

At goal:
Math: 6.9%
writing: 19.3%
Science: 7.0%

While Kermit may have inherited much of this poor performance, he has been at the helm for three years now, and I don’t think “his accomplishments will dwarf the other candidates”.

You said:
“And he will be our next Mayor”.

Seemingly, Carolina has much work to do yet, and more importantly, he makes 6,000K($136,000K) more than the Mayor for less hours worked, why would he want to be Mayor???

posted by: westville man on April 2, 2013  4:33pm

Robn,  I’ll be really impressed if you would take the time to read the entire powerpoint reply which NHI posted back in the summer, under the “call for the NAACP probe”. And recall that it’s not a stretch to say that the Mayor had others do his bidding on this as revenge.

posted by: Brutus2011 on April 3, 2013  11:30am

My first post seems to have been deleted so I will try to be more politically correct in this one.

I am not for Kermit Carolina (KC)as either mayor or as a potential mayor. Here is why:

1. I see KC as a NHPS insider with ties to Dr. Mayo and with his wife as a NHPS manager—needless to say, I am against all of the “close” relationships in the schools and how these ties seem to metastasize beyond the schools.

2. This may sound bad, but my experience is that we have too many coaches in our schools who need to make a living so they take an academic teaching position—usually in social studies or shop, etc. I think we need teachers who have more of an academic “bent.” [I know, let the hate mail begin.] If it makes you feel any better, I feel the same about “education” advanced degrees—get an academic degree, write an original thesis, etc. The point is that KC was a coach who became a principal—not good in my opinion.

3. But my overwhelmingly main concern is that a KC campaign will dilute votes from a candidate that really does have the experience, talent, and vision to win in November. [No, I am not a shill for this person so don’t let your disdain for this post transfer to him] I remember very well the last campaign where the current mayor skillfully took advantage of the diluted vote to squeak by in the primary and then used the endorsement of one of the defeated primary candidates to help win in the general election. I don’t know about you, but I did not see that coming. So, to sum up:

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

posted by: westville man on April 3, 2013  12:53pm

Brutus2011,  while some of the other posters’ opinions I could care less about, yours is always one i respect, if not agree with.
So while I know I wont change your mind on this, I do want make a few points in opposition to your post.
1. While Kermit and Mayo have had an on/off relationship for a long time, the fact that Mayo, after “investigating” Kerm and suspending him for 3 days (against Mayo’s own “conflict of interest” policy), should reveal that the relationship was not that cozy;
2. He WAS a teacher before he became a coach and worked very hard to get to the administrative level, the way many teachers do;
3. His wife is no longer at the B of E and wasnt there for very long- she has a very impressive resume of other employment;
4 Finally, some of do think that he’s eminently qualified to run the city and i’m hoping he runs because he’ll have my vote. Vote splitting possiblities shouldnt keep him out.

As i said, i know i wont change your mind but i did want to clarify a few things - from my perspective, of course.

posted by: Curious on April 3, 2013  1:22pm

Why doesn’t everyone just run as independent, since there won’t be a real Republican contender anyway?

posted by: robn on April 3, 2013  1:56pm


Because ceding primary face time to opponents is political suicide. Time = exposure = votes.

posted by: Brutus2011 on April 3, 2013  3:34pm

to “westville man:”

I respect your opinions also. And your rebuttal is duly noted and thanks for correcting me.

I guess what this is about for me is that I am really concerned that the DeStefano cartel is trying to morph into another form to continue in power—and given their acumen, they could pull it off.

And I see a candidate who stepped up to run that is unusually suited for political service. And to tell the truth, there is another candidate who is attractive as well, in my opinion. And since a former DeStefano manager has entered the race, I have been looking to validate what my best friend laughingly calls me—conspiracy brother.

I think New Haven can be so much more responsive, but the powers that be are not going to die easily or go quietly into the night.

posted by: Claudia Herrera on April 3, 2013  3:44pm

Mr.Carolina is already a controversial and doubt of trust with his work ethics as a school principal with a very recent “incident” that many of us in New Haven heard plenty, and as a the result of bring the people attention (obviously as a parents we want to be inform of what is going on in our schools) he interpreted as a “many” come to asked him to be our new Mayor? I can see his real vocation. 

Only in politic they can change “careers” so quickly in my job or any other privet industry he could it be at leas lay off.

posted by: SaveOurCity on April 3, 2013  4:02pm

yes….Kermit has some work to do before he should be considered as a viable alternative Justin or Gary. However, look at the bright side - at least he isn’t DeStefano 2.0.