GOP (Remember Them?) Finds 4 Candidates

Nick Defiesta PhotoDon’t look now, but four Republicans may run contested campaigns for public office this year—four more than ran the last time New Haven held city elections.

The Republican Town Committee (RTC) unanimously endorsed those four candidates for aldermen at a convention Thursday night at 200 Orange St. The party did not nominate a candidate for mayor.

Four candidates may not sound like a lot for a Board of Aldermen that has 30 seats. But right now that board has only Democrats sitting on it. And the GOP wasn’t able to field any candidates in 2011 after incumbent Morris Cove Alderwoman Arlene DePino, the only RTC-endorsed candidate, dropped out of the race.

New Haven is largely a one-party town, as GOP Town Chairman Richter Elser demonstrated by citing the latest numbers from the city’s registrar of voters: 2,540 registered GOP voters, compared to 48,140 registered Democrats and 18,377 unaffiliated voters For the past two years, not a single Republican has held an elected position within the Elm City besides the uncontested position of Republican registrar of voters. On the Democratic-only Board of Aldermen, that has meant no minority party representation on committees.

Electing a Republican to the board in November, said Elser (at right in photo), could potentially give the party an oversized voice, due to the legal requirement to have members of both parties serve on certain boards and commissions. He added that a Republican aldermanic victory would also force Democratic lawmakers to be more transparent about their decisions.

“One of the advantages in getting back to two-party rule are more conversations that would be taking place in the open instead of staying as private Democratic matters,” he said. “It’s hard to have good government without discussion out in open.”

The problem, Elser explained, is that New Haven voters often equate “small-R local Republican politics” with “big-R national Republican politics.” The issues at the national and local levels are different, he argued. To make a “credible argument that [Republicans] should be part of the [city] discussion,” he continued, the party needs to start at the aldermanic level with well-known neighborhood candidates.

One such candidate is Ward 8’s Andy Ross (pictured),  a Wooster Square activist. In a speech to other members of the RTC before his endorsement, Ross thanked DePino for proving that “getting elected as a Republican is possible.”

His campaign manager, University of Connecticut student Michael McGuigan, said Ross faces an uphill battle. Wooster Square’s Ward 8 has just 86 registered Republicans. Still, he pointed out that 54 of these Republicans are under the age of 40. Elser suggested after the meeting, Ross will have extra time to connect to voters in his ward as the other two candidates compete in an anticipated Sept. 10 primary.

Also receiving an endorsement Thursday evening was Yale student Paul Chandler (pictured, in hat), who will likely run against Democratic incumbent Alderwoman Sarah Eidelson in Yale’s Ward 1. In brief remarks to the committee, Chandler, who is from Westport, said he is interested in the city’s education system, adding that he decided to run at the prompting of Yale’s Republican Party.

Elser, who has lived in New Haven for three decades, said he couldn’t remember any other Republican campaign for alderman at Yale. Chandler, he added, already has a campaign committee and a website. (A Republican Yale student sought office in 1987 in a race that included a Green.)

The Hill’s Ward 6, which includes City Point, Church Street South, and the Towers elderly apartments, will also see a Republican challenger in the form of Frank Lobo (at left in photo). Lobo, who came to New Haven originally to attend Yale Medical School and “fell in love” with the city, said he has “invested” a lot in his ward. He’ll take on incumbent Alderwoman Dolores Colón.

Lobo said he would like to see improved city schools and oversee the removal of the “moat” that separates his neighborhood from downtown. Lobo also echoed Elser’s comments about two-party rule, arguing that New Haven needs a “dialogue” that has been lacking in recent years. “It would benefit the Democratic Party to have a little opposition,” he said.

Finally, in Ward 10, which covers East Rock as well as Cedar Hill and a slice of Fair Haven, Democratic aldermanic candidate Anna Festa may see competition this November as William Wynn, a business manager for the Board of Education, plans to run as a Republican. Wynn couldn’t make it in person to Thursday night’s endorsement meeting. Instead he texted Elser to ask the committee to endorse him anyway—which it did unanimously.

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posted by: robn on July 19, 2013  3:12pm

If we had semi-open primaries we’d have that dialogue because many Democrats would head for the door and become Independents (something the Dems fear even though it goes against the supposed nature of their party; therefore they don’t support seim-open primaries.)

posted by: jimoco on July 19, 2013  3:39pm

What a great turn of events for New Haven.  It would be very good to have some minority party representation on the Board of Aldermen. 

Despite the overwhelming odds those folks on the New Haven Republican Town Committee should be applauded for keeping any sort of prsence in the City at all.  After all, with no member of the GOP winning the top spot since 1951 and only a few members of the Board of Aldermen since that time ( I think that 7 was the most in 1971) it would be very easy to give up totally. 

In recent City elections I am sure that the majority of the voters that turned out had some sort of connection to City Hall - mostly a job or a family member’s job.  That has not served the City very well.

Hopefully voters will give the GOP candidates a good look and perhaps the Democratic monopoly will be trimmed back just a bit. 
That certainly can help the City.

Who knows?  Maybe even a Republican candidate
for citywide office will happen soon!

posted by: Brutus2011 on July 19, 2013  6:04pm

I agree with “robn.”

I am ready to “head for the door.”

20 years of ever increasing tyr*an^y has its effects.

(to NHI censors: I expressly did not use that word you find so offensive but describes perfectly the state of our city gov’t.)

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on July 19, 2013  8:04pm

Left Wing or Right Wing, It’s Still the Same Bird.

posted by: Christopher Schaefer on July 20, 2013  10:54am

“The problem, Elser explained, is that New Haven voters often equate ‘small-R local Republican politics’ with ‘big-R national Republican politics. The issues at the national and local levels are different”. So what are the national issues that cause many New Haveners to cringe at the notion of a GOP alderman? ObamaCare?  Irrelevant to the Board of Aldermen [BOA]. Abortion? Irrelevant to the BOA. Gay marriage? Irrelevant to the BOA. Gun control? Irrelevant to the BOA. Death penalty? Irrelevant to the BOA. Minimum wage? Irrelevant to the BOA.  “Traditional values”? Irrelevant to the BOA. “Political correctness”? Irrelevant to the BOA.  Taxes? RELEVANT!!! But NOT in the same way as at the federal or state level—because the city does not impose its own income tax. At the federal & state level Dems favor progressive taxation (e.g. “tax the one-percenters”), GOPs favor across-the-board lower taxes (e.g. “trickle-down theory”); Dems favor increased taxation of business to cover govt. spending & govt . intervention to create jobs (e.g. “Jobs Pipeline”); GOPs favor less taxation/regulation of business to encourage job growth. So at the CITY level, one could expect a GOP alderman to be more aggressive in cutting waste AND targeting deeply embedded cronyism to lower PROPERTY taxes—the only tax that New Haven imposes. “But I’m not a homeowner, so I don’t pay property taxes so that’s not my issue.” But you DO pay property taxes!—via your landlord AND when you shop locally. The higher a landlord’s property tax, the higher your rent and the less money available to do maintenance or upgrades (assuming you have a landlord that does those things without an order from LCI). A higher mill rate also means higher taxes on business inventory—so higher prices and less money to spend on employees. New Haveners need to set aside ideological passions and get realistic: what has YOUR alder actually done for YOU?

posted by: A Contrarian on July 25, 2013  8:10pm

3/5:  But the bird flies better with two wings.

Chr. Sch.:  Sensible rational points.  But no match for irrational myths & emotional slogans.