Two dozen Latino leaders cheered on Sergio Rodriguez’s campaign for city/town clerk Thursday, chanting “Split the vote!”
Rodriguez is one of three Democrats running for the part-time $46,597-a-year clerk’s job. The clerk oversees the office that handles land records, campaign filings, record-keeping for the Board of Aldermen, and licensing that ranges from new enterprises to dog licenses. You rarely hear about the position. New Haven rarely has contested elections for the position. But this is New Haven Spring, a season of a flowering of political ambitions and newly contested races—including a three-way primary for clerk. On Thursday prominent Latino leaders gathered on the steps of the 200 Orange St. municipal building to endorse Rodriguez’s candidacy, pointing out he is the first Latino running for citywide political office. Elected officials present included state Rep. Juan Candelaria (at front in photo), and Fair Haven Aldermen Santiago Berrios-Bones and Migdalia Castro, pictured surrounding the candidate.
The reason for the “split the vote!” chant: Rodriguez’s crowd included supporters of three separate mayoral candidates, Toni Harp, Henry Fernandez and Kermit Carolina. Engineer Edwin A. Martinez (at right in photo), who works at Space-Craft Manufacturing on East Street and co-chairs the Flechas Latino cultural organization, supports Carolina, for instance. Former Alderman Joey Rodriguez (at left in photo), chairs the Connecticut Hispanic Democratic Caucus. “It’s good to have a Latino on a citywide ticket. The Latino community in New Haven is a growing community. To have a Latino who is qualified and can do the work means a lot,” he said.
Immigrant rights organizer John Lugo (right foreground), a Fernandez supporter, addressed the crowd. After several supporters spoke, Sergio Rodriguez quoted Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy about thinking big in the cause of justice, and he promised to bring “value, integrity, accessibility and leadership” to the clerk’s office. He promised to help connect small-business owners, including the city’s growing core of Latino merchants, to other branches of local government; business owners often interact first with the clerk’s office to file incorporation papers. He said he intends to commit himself “fully” to the officially part-time clerk’s position: “At this point there’s no other job in the future for me.” The current clerk, five-term incumbent Ron Smith, has another full-time job.
Click here to read about Smith’s reelection campaign and here to read about the campaign of Michael Smart. The Democratic Party nominating convention takes place July 23; the primary takes place Sept. 10. Click here for previous coverage of Rodriguez’s candidacy.