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Statehouse Pals Rally For Harp
by Cora Lewis | Sep 10, 2013 2:26 pm
Posted to: Campaign 2013
As she was driven from ward to ward Tuesday morning following an egg white flatbread from Dunkin Donuts, state senator and mayoral candidate Toni Harp greeted many a familiar face – including allies from the state Capitol.
Harp, a state senator, is one of four candidates running for mayor in Tuesday’s New Haven Democratic Party primary.
Fellow New Haven state Sen. Martin Looney, Senate President Don Williams, and Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey all traveled into New Haven to pound the pavement—or simply stand—in support of Harp, describing her as a “steady hand” (Sharkey) who “will be missed in Hartford” (Williams). All talked about their time working together on the state budget over the years. Harp co-chairs the legislature’s Appropriations Committee.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, in town for a separate planned housing event in Newhallville, showed up later Tuesday afternoon at the polls in that neighborhood alongside Harp. Malloy previously came to town to endorse her candidacy.
Sen. Looney wore his feelings towards Harp on his sleeve Tuesday—literally sporting gold-colored cufflinks engraved with the musical instrument that shares her name.
Harp started her day picking up breakfast to-go and an iced coffee she nursed in the car between stops, before heading to Nathan Hale School, Ward 18’s polling place in Morris Cove, where she greeted Looney. The two considered the skies—it had been raining earlier in the day—and hoped it would clear by the afternoon. The Harp campaign is hoping for a big turnout in neighborhoods across the city, including that traditionally require more active vote-pulling to get people to the polls.
At Nathan Hale, kindergarten teacher Linda Randi met her students at the door, guiding her youngest students to line up in the hallway and reminding 1st- through 3rd-graders that they would be meeting in the auditorium, because their parents would be voting in the gymnasium. Outside, Harp kept the requisite 75 feet from the entrance, standing with aldermanic candidate Rosa Santana, a few feet from volunteers with “I like Elicker” stickers on their chests.
After a handful of handshakes and some photographs, Harp hit her next stop – Firehouse 5 in Ward 17, where she stood with Senate President Williams and thanked supporters.
There, 84-year-old John Tiedemann (pictured), a lifetime Morris Cover, said he would vote for Harp because he was thinking of his five children, 15 grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. “Jobs are important. Education’s important. Everything’s important,” he said, adding that one of his offspring is currently a radiation therapist in the area, while another is in school to be a pharmacist.
Next Harp headed to Jepson Magnet School, the polling spot in Ward 13. In the car,Harp continued speaking about an issue she had discussed at the previous stop, a dispute over whether opponent Justin Elicker had ever called for closing down the firehouse in Morris Cove, which the Harp campaign alleged at a press event and in Sunday robocalls. “Evidently Mr. Elicker called me a liar,” Harp remarked. “I was a taught as a young child never to call a person a liar. You might say that what they said is not factual or explain why you disagree, but I’m shocked that adults do that. That’s something children do.”
She described an interaction she had just had at the polls with several women from the Christian Community Action social-services agency place who said remembered the senator from when they came to the state seeking more support for the homeless. They called their campaign “No More Crumbs.” “I remember when they came to testify, they brought us bread – whole loaves of bread, rather than the crumbs they said services sometimes represent. Many of the legislators – including myself – found their tactics memorable and convincing,” Harp said.
Arriving at Jepson, Harp kept the requisite 75 feet from the entrance, standing with aldermanic candidate Rose Santana a few feet from volunteers with “I like Elicker” stickers on their chests.
Deborah Quinones, who is 41 and has lived in the neighborhood for over 20 years and works for the city health department, greeted her alderwoman familiarly. She said she it took a while for her time deciding among the mayoral candidates. “I still don’t have anyone’s sign on my lawn,” she said. “All of the candidates have good visions for New Haven. But when Healthy Start was on the chopping block, Toni was advocating for us.”
Kate Baker, who is 36, and her husband, Dave Baker, also 36, took turns sitting with their 2-year-old daughter Wendy (pictured) and speaking to community members in favor of mayoral candidate Elicker. “We bought a house here 11 years ago and started a family. We think the city was stuck during that time, under the current mayor, and we thought about moving. But we think Elicker has fresh ideas and can put us in a new direction,” she said.
Dave Baker works as a facilities manager at a bank in the Guilford area; Kate Baker works in the props department of the Yale School of Drama.
Ian Christmann, a commercial photographer who has lived in the ward for 12 years, said Elicker gained his support by walking the neighborhood with him and listening to his concerns about the closing of the Grand Avenue bridge and the need for redeveloping the Quinnipiac Avenue commercial district. “We have a bombshell of a district, just limping along,” he said. “Elicker spent an hour dreaming with me about what it could be.”
Ward Democratic co-chair Artie Natalino, Sr. said he considers the ward historically “unpredictable,” but that he suspects it will go for Sen. Harp. “I’ve been passing out cards since I was 11 years old, for [former Mayor] Dick Lee in 1959,” he said, handing a slip of paper to a passerby that showed how to fill out a ballot for the senator. “There’s still a lot of crime. There are still a lot of break-ins in this neighborhood, but this lady is going to be all about community policing.”
When the Harp van rolled away, her supporters called out, “See you at the party, Artie!”
On the drive to Bella Vista, Harp rubbed her feet and sipped her cold coffee, listening to messages from friends relayed by staff members and talking about how it seemed strange that parents were dropping kids off at school hours apart. “Doesn’t it feel like Groundhog Day?” she said, referring to the 1993 movie in which Bill Murray’s character repeats a day for eternity, eventually achieving Buddha-esque omniscience and acceptance of his fate. “When we were at the first school, all the kids were arriving. And now, hours later, we’re at another school, and kids are still arriving.”
“They stagger the arrivals because of the bus routes, so the schools start at different times,” explained longtime Harp supporter Byron Breland, who was driving the senator for the day. His wife, Sabrina Breland, is a principal at the Wexler School; Looney was a witness at the couple’s wedding.
At Bella Vista, mayoral candidate Elicker’s father, 73-year-old Gordon Elicker, stood at the ready in a yellow rain slicker, with an umbrella and bag packed with snacks nearby. He chatted with Ward 11 aldermanic candidate Patty DePalma about an event mayoral candidate Henry Fernandez had held the night before. “Apparently they usually get mac and cheese, but Fernandez brought hot dogs, which were a hit,” he reported.
76-year-old Janet Frisco (pictured), who has lived in Bella Vista for a decade, said she would decide in the voting booth whether to vote for Harp or Fernandez. She said she was swayed by Fernandez’s speech the previous evening about fixing the roads and making New Haven safer.
Vans running to bring displaced residents from economy motels to polling stations seemed to be running smoothly, said Harp campaign aide Chris Campbell. (Read about that here.)
State Senate President Don Williams (pictured) said he had arrived from Brooklyn, Connecticut, “to ward off the rain” (which later started up again in the early afternoon). He said he made the trip because “he’s been so impressed with everything she’s done up at the Capitol,” and because New Haven is “has so many tremendous assets.”
“There are a lot of important races and primaries in the state, but this is the most important to me today, because Toni and I have worked together on so many things,” he said.
In the car on the way to Abate’s for lunch, Harp got to talking about patterns in her conversations with voters.
“Everywhere I go, I hear about the Coliseum and the Dixwell Q House. People are still really mourning for those,” she said of the demolished downtown and vacant former Dixwell community center.
Harp recalled taking her children to circuses and seeing Disney on Ice at the Coliseum. A campaign aide, Roberta Hoskie, talked about taking gymnastics and dance classes there.
Harp said she had set aside $250,000 in state money last year for a study about bringing back a space similar to the Q house and that there is currently $500,000 in the budget to support youth programs. “It’s before the Board of Aldermen in a planning stage right now,” she said.
Harp took a last photo with Wooster Square aldermanic candidate Aaron Greenberg before breaking for lunch. Her goal for the day: to hit 16 of the city’s 30 wards while votes are still being cast.
Tags: Toni Harp, mayoral race
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“Evidently Mr. Elicker called me a liar,” Harp remarked. “I was a taught as a young child never to call a person a liar. You might say that what they said is not factual or explain why you disagree, but I’m shocked that adults do that. That’s something children do.”
We’re really starting to get into Colbert/Stewart territory here. I’m at a loss, except to meakly point out that “say[ing] that what [Harp] said is not factual [and] explain[ing] why [he] disagree[s]” seems to be exactly what Elicker did. It would be nice if Harp could respond in kind.
Did I miss something? Do Williams, Sharkey, and Malloy live in New Haven now? Is Senator Harp really that clueless about the carpetbagger reputation she engenders…and reinforces on election day..in some New Haven neighborhoods?
85% of New Haven Independent reader-poll-takers agreed that Harp’s statement was a “lying campaign smear.” That was very childish and I think we should all apologize for being so rude as to point out that Ms. Harp is a liar and that nice Mr. Bass should apologize for having written such a childish poll entry.
We should have agreed that “her statement has an inverted relationship to truth and was said solely for the purpose of advancing her own campaign while unfairly besmirching her erstwhile rival Mr. Elicker.” Isn’t that better?
So the various reports tell us that Carolina drives a Lexus, Elicker drives a Subaru, and Harp has a driver. This investigative reporting wouldn’t be complete without an update on Fernandez’s vehicle of choice..so what is it? Any guesses? Come on NHI. The not so subtle innuendos are completely unnecessary
The state Democratic party should expect blowback at the polls for picking sides in our election.
No… lying would be like if you were married to someone for like 40 years and they like owed the state a million bucks in back taxes and you were like a State Senator in charge of the Appropriations Committee but then like somebody asks you if you know anything about the unpaid taxes and you’re like, “I totally don’t know anything about it.”