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“Take Back” Slate Loses Another Candidate
by Thomas MacMillan | Aug 30, 2013 2:05 pm
Posted to: The Hill, Campaign 2013
An aldermanic campaign that began on the basketball courts of the Hill ended over salad at the Greek Olive, as a fledgling “Take Back New Haven” slate lost another candidate.
The latest casualty from the “Take Back” slate is Raymond Wallace, who had been campaigning for the Hill’s Ward 4 aldermanic seat.
Wallace showed up at the city clerk’s office Friday morning, after a dinner at the Greek Olive the night before with seven-term Hill Alderwoman Andrea Jackson-Brooks, to have his name removed from the Sept. 10 Democratic primary ballot.
Wallace, a 48-year-old who had been running as part of the Take Back New Haven slate, said he’d had enough of politics after a few weeks of plunging in. He said Jackson-Brooks, his erstwhile opponent, never asked him to drop out of the race.
“It’s just not my time,” Wallace said as he left the Hall of Records Friday morning. “I’m not about politics.”
Wallace is a 48-year-old community activist who runs Guns Down Books Up, a citywide youth program. He spends his time organizing basketball games and barbecues, flag football games and fundraisers for shooting victims. Wallace said he had been running to help young people in the Hill, where he moved a year and a half ago.
He came to realize that being a politician is not like being a youth organizer. He said he had people “cuss [him] out” and slam doors in his face while he was canvassing. People started to question his residency in the ward, since his name isn’t on the lease where he lives. And he said he began to think that his agenda was not the same as Take Back New Haven’s.
The slate, organized by Downtown Alderman Doug Hausladen, presents itself as an alternative to the Yale union-backed majority on the Board of Aldermen, as a way to bring more voices to the board.
Take Back New Haven began with six candidates, then dropped to four when Mike Stratton and Anna Festa left the team. With Wallace now not running, the slate is down to Hausladen, Greg Smith in Dwight, Peter Webster in Wooster Square, and Patty DePalma in Bella Vista.
Hausladen had encouraged Wallace to run against Jackson-Brooks after the two men met at a Critical Mass bike ride.
“I think they had a vendetta with this lady,” Wallace said of Take Back New Haven. He said he thinks Hausladen and the other members of the Take Back New Haven slate are wonderful people. But they didn’t prepare him for what he was getting into, he said.
“I’m frustrated. I’m upset I had to do this,” Wallace said. “Take Back is still not explaining to me what is Take Back. I think their agenda is more political than mine.”
Wallace said Take Back New Haven spoke to him about the union-backed majority being wrong to sell Wall and High streets to Yale. “That’s not going to affect me,” Wallace said.
He said he’s not interested in political alliances or the “pull of power.”
“I’m more concerned with the youth. I’m not concerned with that stuff,” he said. “Every time we bicker amongst each other we’re losing another child.”
Thursday evening’s meeting at the Greek Olive was arranged by former Newhallville Alderman Charles Blango, who knows Wallace’s family, Jackson-Brook said. Blango joined the meeting. (Blango is running in the Sept. 10 primary to try to win his old job back against incumbent Delphine Clyburn.)
“I talked about some things I might be able to help him with, some of the thing we have done with youth,” Jackson-Brooks said. “He was also very receptive when I told him I’d like him to participate in the process, in the ward commitee and all that. We had a very good conversation.”
Wallace said Jackson-Brooks showed him how Guns Down Books Up might get some money from the city. “It wasn’t no bribe. I don’t take promises.”
“I’m really glad to have met him and do plan to involve him,” Jackson-Brooks said. “He really has a mission, and it’s not about being a politician.”
“I think he would be a tremendous asset to the city and should be supported in every endeavor he does,” Hausladen said. “A lot of Take Back have been having a tough time running campaigns from a shoestring budget. It’s unfortunate what it takes to go up against such well-funded and well-organized opponents.”
Earlier in the week, when Wallace was still on the campaign trail, he stepped out of his house on Washington Avenue to canvass. Three teens were in his front yard tossing a football, several of the kids he works with through Guns Down Books Up.
He crossed the street and 8-year-old Shaquan Raghubir ran up to greet him, toting a bag of Doritos.
All the kids in the Hill know him, Wallace said. “I don’t know most of the parents, but I definitely know most of the kids.”
Later, as he returned from canvassing on Cedar Street, Wallace passed by the basketball court at Clemente Leadership Academy and picked up a couple of sidekicks: Shaquan and his sister Shania Raghubir, who’s 9, fell in step with Wallace. He said they sometimes knock on his door at 8 a.m., looking to play.
He helped them cross the street. “Last one’s a rotten egg!” he called out, sending them sprinting to the other side.
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Thursday evening’s meeting at the Greek Olive was arranged by former Newhallville Alderman Charles Blango, who knows Wallace’s family, Jackson-Brook said. Blango joined the meeting. (Blango is running in the Sept. 10 primary to try to win his old job back against incumbent Delphine Clyburn.)“I talked about some things I might be able to help him with, some of the thing we have done with youth,” Jackson-Brooks said. “He was also very receptive when I told him I’d like him to participate in the process, in the ward commitee and all that. We had a very good conversation.”Wallace said Jackson-Brooks showed him how Guns Down Books Up might get some money from the city. “It wasn’t no bribe.I don’t take promises.”
Notice this statement.
Wallace said Jackson-Brooks showed him how Guns Down Books Up might get some money from the city. “It wasn’t no bribe.I don’t take promises.
what is the differnce between a bribe and Political patronage? None.
It seems like TBNH has been even less deliberate than UNITE/GNHCLC (Local 34/35) in choosing its slate of candidates. They should have taken a lesson from whom they oppose: don’t endorse too many of those candidates without political experience and/or only a half-hearted desire for political activity. The reason UNITE, etc. were so successful in the last election was due to a built-in logistical/emotional support group (i.e. union leadership and membership), which allowed their candidates to beat the existing democratic establishment slate and they have now effectively overthrown the DTC and taken control of the local democratic process… or so they think. TBNH does not have the luxury of having a head-start with organization and money as the unions did 2 years ago. But still somehow, despite the fact that TBNH did not specifically endorse him, Justin Elicker’s chances of beating Toni Harp are getting better every day.
Ray is exactly what this town needs. And I think he is right. He will accomplish a lot more with his non profit than he will in politics. TBNH started as an effort to get people without an outside or personal agenda into politics. Unfortunately, it was coopted into partisan politics, then divided people rather than brought them together, and ultimately became what it sought to avoid. A tough pill to swallow for political neophytes like Ray, Anna and me but a lesson was learned.
Something inside must have prompted Mr. Wallace to see representative government as akin to community action, and I hope all of our office holders have that same spark. Good, responsive Alders make the execution of the job look familiar to people with community sprit. Seeking election is like nothing else however. Nothing prepares a person for running for office except running it seems.
Huge respect to Mr. Wallace for addressing his feelings and coming to terms. As Doug Hausladen said, he sounds like a tremendous asset and best of luck to him. Sounds like It will rub off on others.
Greg Smith appears to be a very thoughtful choice of challenger to Frank Douglass.
Ray Wallace already is a tremendous asset to the City. Guns Down Books Up has been going for a while and has held well organized events, not just in the Hill. Keep it up!
Hausladen’s reason for why Ray left his group does not match at all what Ray is saying himself.
Hausladen said. “A lot of Take Back have been having a tough time running campaigns from a shoestring budget. It’s unfortunate what it takes to go up against such well-funded and well-organized opponents.”
Last time I got solicited, Doug had raised nearly $10,000. Check it out.
Maybe Hausladen could have helped some members of his team be more successful. If you are going to organize a group, don’t use good people like Ray in the process.
Keep agitating in the streets. That’s where it counts. Right in your neighborhood. It will soon spread so that all of New Haven is your neighborhood. Build community!
Weird that Andrea Jackson-Brooks is the only Alder without an email address on the website. Did the city not give her one? Did she not request one? Does she believe her constituents don’t have access to email? Does she believe that face to face communication is more important? What?
I don’t think tbnh’s problem is its choice in candidates or its limited budget. Its problem has always been a complete lack of positive vision for New Haven. Without a positive vision, candidates abandoned the group over silly reasons such as a staffer changing campaigns. Without a positive vision, individuals who are primarily concerned about solving problems in New Haven abandon the group with statements such as: “I think they had a vendetta with this lady… Take Back is still not explaining to me what is Take Back. I think their agenda is more political than mine.” There is not a better analysis of tbnh than the one provided in this statement.
I truly appreciate Mr. Wallace’s honesty and ability to think for himself ... a very good political trait, but like he said, everyone does not DO politics. He IS very effective in the HILL, he has a tremendous impact on the youth in the Hill. He may not seek to run for Alderperson, but his work may well help to develop youth who WILL serve their community ... just as he is. Good decision Mr. Wallace, and having the support from our current Alder Ms. Jackson-Brooks is NOT a bad thing.