Elicker’s Day Starts With A Rude Awakening

Allan Appel PhotoJustin Elicker woke up on election day morning to a real-life bad dream: At least 10 Toni Harp campaign signs arrayed on his front lawn.

“They had been put there the night before,” Elicker casually told a group of his coordinators and volunteers about two hours later.

“I don’t have time to worry about stuff like that,” he said.

Elicker, a petitioning candidate, is running for mayor against Democratic state Sen. Toni Harp. Tuesday. Election Day morning found him roaming between campaign headquarters and polling places, seeking votes in the very last hours of the campaign.

Elicker didn’t even take down the Harp signs on his lawn. He had to be off on his rounds, he said. When he cruised by on the way back from the polls, someone had removed them for him.

He gave that assessment around 8:30 a.m. as he arrived with a coffee cup in hand at 93 Livingston St. A porch full of signs shared space with a carved pumpkin collection. Andrew Zehner and Nick Gauthier, his get-out-the-vote coordinators for wards 7, 8, 9, 10,19, and 21, were already sending out the troops and coordinating rides.

Between the sign incident and his first meeting with the East Rock coordinators, Elicker had voted, consumed some coffee and a cinnamon raisin bagel, and visited his volunteers and supporters at Wilbur Cross High School, Lincoln Bassett School, King Robinson, Mauro Sheridan, as well as polling places in Westville and Edgewood.

“Just to see if they needed anything,” Elicker said.

They didn’t need much at 93 Livingston, where the mood was upbeat. “We’re ready to unleash the power,” Zehner declared

Soon enough, a stream of door-knocking volunteers entered.

Gauthier offered the first of them, Laura Clampitt, a version of the speech he gave to all volunteers. It contained a message and a question to convey to voters. The message: Voting is important, every votes counts, and we have the numbers to win. The question: How are you getting to the polls, and do you need a ride?

Clampitt was given folder 7-1. Each ward had been divided into four geographical areas. She was assigned to knock on doors on Humphrey, Orange, and Clark.

Gauthier said the canvassing operation was designed to be comprehensive. “We’re doing it so that every door is knocked on four times,” Gauthier said.

While Gauthier and Zehner organized the canvassing, Garrett Ebersole built a spreadsheet of people who needed rides, based on messages from canvassers. The operation was running smoothly, leaving little for the candidate to do.

Elicker finished his coffee, asked to use the bathroom, and then exited on his way to his next stop, the Nathan Hale School, where at 9:30 a.m. he was to meet a television crew for an interview.

On the way to his car, he stopped to chat with Magnolia, a non-voting golden retriever and her voting owners David and Billie Ladd (pictured at top of the story). Magnolia is best friends with the candidate’s dog Captain.

As Elicker pulled away in his black cruiser headed for the East Shore, the Ladds said they were on their way to vote.

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posted by: THREEFIFTHS on November 5, 2013  12:37pm

Did the dog vote.

posted by: anon15 on November 5, 2013  1:08pm

NHI - where is your coverage of Toni Harp today?

[Editor: It’s coming! I just returned from riding around with her.]

posted by: Noteworthy on November 5, 2013  1:09pm

Crib Notes:

1. To stay classy, you have to be classy.

2. Love Elicker’s response: Don’t have time to worry about this kind of stuff.

posted by: RogerSherman on November 5, 2013  1:19pm

If how you run a campaign correlates even slightly with how you will administer a city, it is clear to me that Justin Elicker is the best choice for mayor of New Haven.

Our city does not have enough “pounds of flesh” to provide for everyone who will come calling to extract theirs from a Harp administration.

Justin has run a purposeful, professional campaign based on ideas, with a grass-roots excitement that reminds me of the 1st Obama victory. He hasn’t taken money from PACs or doners over the democracy fund limit, voluntarily submitting to the same standard in the general election. He has convinced many hard core democrats that have never voted on a line that didn’t say (D) that this is the time to take that leap.  I didn’t know Justin well before this past year but have grown more impressed with each passing day.

Toni Harp has been a good friend of New Haven over the years and I thank her for her service.  But it’s time for a new direction in New Haven.

posted by: Hill South on November 5, 2013  2:55pm

Well said Roger Sherman ... well said

posted by: William Kurtz on November 5, 2013  3:07pm

Once again, New Haven voters get a clear view of the kind of mayor Justin Elicker will be.

It’s probably unfair to blame Senator Harp personally but this small misdeed certainly reflects the tone set by her campaign from the top down. Deliberately and baldy lying about Mr. Elicker’s plans for the east shore fire station, cynically positioning herself at charity events to create the appearance of personal largesse, explicitly acknowledging that money will buy access and putting her lawn signs all over everything in sight, including public rights of way and now the yards of unwilling property owners is all part of the same pattern.

I agree with Roger Sherman: with all respect to the senator for her service in the state legislature, it’s time for new way of doing business in New Haven.

posted by: darnell on November 5, 2013  5:19pm

Come on guys, it was a joke at the end of the campaign, to lighten things up a little. I did the same thing a few years ago, just for fun. What harm can a few signs of your opponent on your lawn do? I bet Justin laughed at it, and if he didn’t, oh well. Lighten up guys, this thing is finally almost over!

posted by: Edward_H on November 5, 2013  6:23pm


I agree 100% this is a harmless prank. No more no less. No one was hurt(other than maybe an ego), and no property damaged. I am amazed at how humorless people have become these days.

posted by: getyourfactstraight on November 6, 2013  5:31pm

When I heard about this I thought for a moment and then laughed…...and knowing Justin he did also!