Marcus Paca won over a voter the other day with some old-fashioned one-on-one campaigning in the most intimate of settings: a gathering in a private home.
The event took place Sunday at the 1892 beautifully restored East Pearl Street home of Patricia and Kirby Long. About a dozen people attended, mainly from within the circle of friends of the Longs and Gerry and Kathy Wenner—she is Patricia’s sister—and also Fair Haveners.
It was one of a half-dozen or so such “house” events that Paca has organized to introduce himself to voters since his insurgent campaign began. At least one more is scheduled before the Democratic mayoral Sept. 12 primary, in which Paca is taking on two-term incumbent Toni Harp. (Paca’s name will also appear on the ballot as an independent in the Nov. 7 general election.) The events have shown Paca at his most effective, impressing people with youthful energy and drive to become New Haven’s next mayor.
The voter in question Sunday was Fair Haven property owner Don Harvey. Harvey called himself a government skeptic who still didn’t have much negative to say about Mayor Harp except that he sensed her leadership was what he termed “tepid.”
He had never met nor heard much about mayoral challenger Marcus Paca. When they met, he asked him to name the biggest, most wasteful aspect of current New Haven government.
Paca’s answer: the imprudently spent millions over budget used in litigating matters that should have been settled.
Paca’s response: Increase the strength of community benefits agreements, send development money to city corridors like Grand Avenue, and energize young leadership to get the city’s neighborhood engine moving from idle to revved up.
With those answers, along with the candidate’s amiable and informed manner over a quarter-hour conversation, Don Harvey became a Marcus Paca voter.
Or, as he put it it to a reporter, “You can say, ‘At least one person said he came in skeptical, and left a supporter.’”
Paca termed these intimate get-to-know-the-candidate gatherings as one of the most effective means for his getting his message out.
“Everyone who comes to these cares about New Haven,” he said
Paca said he likes the intimacy of meeting in people’s homes because it highlights a personality and energy difference between him and Mayor Harp.
“They all told me a more energetic, pro-active leadership” is what people are looking for in the next mayor, Paca said of the message he has received from voters at these gatherings.
Before Paca moved on to talk to another of the attendees, his last exchange with Harvey went like this:
Harvey: “So you say you’d not be a hands-off chief executive?”
Paca: “Yes. I’m 40 years old. We need to start thinking about continuity of leadership. ... Government should [instead] create an environment of growth that’s more inclusive.”
As he circled around the table filled with platters of sumptuous homemade tarts, cheeses, and green and red olives, Paca talked easily to the guests, many of whom he did not know, like Tony Zingarelli of the East Shore.
“I live in the home of a former New Haven police chief [Nick] Pastore,” said Zingarelli, a voice and audio book actor who bought a home in Morris Cove a decade ago.
Paca’s face brightened, as if to say, You’re kidding. Then he added, “Pastore was my mentor.” (As a teen, Paca served on Pastore’s young adult advisory board.)
Paca easily channeled the conversation to how he believes Morris Cove isn’t getting the services it deserves, like not enough cops cruising the neighborhood.
Crime’s not bad, countered Zingarelli, although he did note that a car on his block was recently broken into.
Paca concurred that violent crime is not an issue there. But quality of life-related crimes? That’s an issue.
“Yes,” said Zingarelli. “I want it to be as safe as when I moved here.”
Right, said Paca.
Of course, replied Zingarelli, with a congenial nod toward Paca, “He’d agree with anything I say. Even if I said I approved of the Lindbergh abduction!”
In this easy-give-and -take Paca seemed to be in his natural element. He exuded a comfort and a laid-back personal charm, as well as a passion to be running.
That’s why, Paca said, he considers such events “the most fun part of a campaign” and plans to stick with doing them, no matter the outcome of the primary, or beyond.
“I’m hoping to win the primary. But win or lose, I’ll continue to do these through November. And even after I’m elected.”
The next meet-and-greet will be in the East Shore on Wednesday, Paca added.
posted by: GroveStreet on September 5, 2017 7:56am
So now he wants to make his name on being, “The Settler?” LOL.
It also seems funny that he describes himself as someone with a “hands off” approach, yet he and his wife were fired for meddling and being out of their lane.
Once he loses, he should try his hand at comedy.
posted by: HewNaven on September 5, 2017 8:06am
Paca is running the most boring campaign. Especially for someone who was fired by his opponent.
posted by: EPDP on September 5, 2017 10:43am
It is true that Paca was fired by Toni Harp. Paca is in good company. Toni Harp also fired Nichole Jefferson and tried to get Jefferson indicted by the Department of Justice. The DOJ dropped the investigation after a mere three months, and the Connecticut Department of Unemployment Compensation described Jefferson’s firing as a “witch hunt.” Harp also fired Paca’s wife, Mendi Blue, a graduate of Harvard with a BA in Economics, a graduate of the Harvard Business School with an MBA, and a graduate of the Harvard Law School with a Juris Doctor. Yet Harp refused to fire out of control police chief Esserman, who resigned in disgrace. It will cost the city millions of dollars in wrongful discharge lawsuits once the dust settles. By that time Harp will be long gone, living off her City pension.
posted by: robn on September 5, 2017 11:01am
What is Mr Paca’s relationship with/stance toward, Yale labor unions taking over NHV’s BOA?
posted by: Bill Saunders on September 5, 2017 11:28am
The only one here with some facts is EPDP…..
Beware of posts coming out of Grove Street and Company…. Since GS has told us all that he is too old for cubicles (in a prior post), I can only surmise that he is waging his ‘Flak Attack’ from a cushy office at City Hall, on the Taxpayer Dime….
posted by: Bill Saunders on September 5, 2017 11:32am
Is Harp running a campaign at all???? I don’t pay attention to the illegally placed campaign signs, the phone-in puff piece’s from out out of town politicos, or hit pieces by unethical Yale Journalist Fellows…..
So, she’s running????? News to me! Running from something is more like it….
posted by: challenge on September 5, 2017 11:37am
I’m not sure what Paca will offer New Haven yet being fired by Harp’s corrupt team is a plus in his campaign. Harp held on to a chief of police and a superintendent of schools when the community adamantly pushed for their ouster. Promises made to the community during the last 2 campaigns remain unfulfilled. Downtown and Yale received all the benefits of this administration while other sections of the city languished in despair. That tells me this administration tunes out the needs of the poor and working class and so a change is undoubtedly best for New Haven.
posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on September 5, 2017 1:30pm
As this first phase of Mr. Paca’s campaign challenge is nearing an end, I cannot express how proud I am of his willingness to run for mayor of the City of New Haven. We often talk about black men in negative tones. Here’s a young black man who’s running a colored blind campaign and refuses to pander to social issues by pitting one group against another, but instead panders to the importance of reducing the city’s deficit. That’s what you look for in a mayor.
Like you Mr. Paca, I too was born in New Haven; and your quest to defeat a career politician, yes may very well be a daunting task, but because of the genuine love that you have for ALL of the people in the city, you’re the right one for the job.
In the second phase, Mr. Paca has decided to run as an Independent should he falter politically in the primary. What an unselfish move on his part to allow everyone to participate politically citywide. Your character and love of city Mr. Paca personifies such a move.
As city Democrats prepare to vote on the 12th, remember how this mayor fired Nicole Jefferson for no reason other than to move her out of the way for one of Matt Nemerson’s friends to take her position. Not to mention the plethora of other disastrous decisions she’s made. Her actions beg this question from my curiosity, to the reasonable people who read this popular paper, would you support your boss for mayor if she or he did this to you? Remember, we are our brothers keeper.
posted by: RobertBaratheon on September 5, 2017 3:55pm
@grovestreet “Harvey: “So you say you’d not be a hands-off chief executive?””
You should read a little slower next time, he said he would NOT be a hands off chief executive (which equals hands-on).
Also its kind of incredible for you to demean the reasons they were fired since it was basically for exposing corrupt practices of the Harp administration you love to defend so vehemently; whether it be the Nichole Jefferson emails to the clear violations of the city’s procurement policies, but that’s just “being out of their lane” to you.
Maybe you should be the one trying the comedy.
posted by: robn on September 5, 2017 6:19pm
Just so it doesn’t go down the memory hole, Paca and Blue were fired for a number of reasons that are well documented and very public. Blue broke the chain of command and advocated against the Mayors budget to the BOA (the opposite of her job description at the time) and Paca (“the only labor director in the state without a law degree”) did a number of foolish things like releasing a pile of confidential corporation counsel emails that cost the city many $$ in the Nicole Jefferson case and going renegade with poorly crafted MOU’s with city labor.
posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on September 5, 2017 9:42pm
Contrary to what some have said, this is one of the most exciting elections in recent history! marcus Paca is an intelligent, articulate, thoughtful and caring candidate who is running for mayor because he loves this city and wants to make New Haven greater. Some people may not like or support Marcus Paca, but all New Haveners should be thankful for at least this one thing: Marcus Paca is helping keep some semblance of democracy alive in this city. Here is the obvious reason how: without the Paca campaign for mayor, Toni Harp would be running for office unopposed. Some Democrats think that is desirable. However, that would be a terrible turn of events for New Haven. Imagine an election in a major small city like New Haven with no choice but the incumbent in the election? Competition in politics is a good thing for the people. It makes politicians more responsible and accountable to the people, and more transparent. Some politicians actually fear that and work to suppress that because they have things to hide from public view. The absence of a competitive political race would do more to discourage and suppress voter turnout in this city than a series of Republican voter suppression laws which today violate voting rights and civil rights in several states across this country. So New Haven residents, be thankful for choice in this election. Cast aside apathy and lethargy. Don’t boo. Vote for the candidate of your choice. Exercise you franchise!
posted by: challenge on September 6, 2017 4:15pm
If last night’s debate did not signal how desperate Harp is to stay in office I don’t think anything else will. From what I heard Paca and his wife were fired because they had more scruples than their boss who mandates employees sign contracts stating they will “cowtow” to her whims or face ouster.Last night was an indicator Harp has no real vision for this city. She was hoping throwing insults would get her some votes. Sorry it backfired and revealed a desperate and shrewd woman. It was rather pathetic.