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Q House Looms Large In 3-Way Dixwell Race
by Gilad Edelman | Sep 6, 2013 7:53 am
Posted to: City Hall, Politics, Dixwell, Campaign 2013
As a staffer in the registrar’s office, Helen Powell spent decades helping her Dixwell neighbors register to vote. Now she’s encouraging them to cast those votes—for her.
Powell (pictured) is one of three candidates for alderman in Ward 22. Her opponents, Cordelia Thorpe and incumbent Jeanette Morrison, also have deep ties to the neighborhood. The three face off in the Democratic Party primary on Tuesday.
Ward 22, which has a history of three-candidate races, includes the Dixwell neighborhood and four Yale residential colleges. The ward is home to the former Dixwell Community “Q” House (pictured above behind Powell), and the shuttered community center has emerged as a central issue in the aldermanic race.
Morrison (pictured), a social worker with the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, was part of the wave of union-backed challengers who unseated sitting aldermen in the 2011 election. (Read about that election here.) In an interview at City Hall Tuesday night, she said that the most important issues in her ward were “jobs, safe streets, and youth services.”
“Getting businesses to connect with the jobs pipeline is something that’s really, really important,” she said, referring to the New Haven Works initiative, which you can read more about here. “There’s a lot going on in my ward, a lot of building, and New Haven residents need jobs.”
Morrison said another priority is reopening the “Q” House, a longtime community hub and recreation center that has been closed since 2003. The shuttered building was site of her reelection campaign launch in June. On Tuesday she stressed the importance of insuring the Q House’s long-term security.
“We need to redevelop that concept, redevelop that building so our kids have somewhere to go,” she said. “But while we’re redeveloping, we have to identify a sustainable force to be a part of the Q House’s development. It won’t be able to survive on its own. So you have to look for some kind of larger entity.”
Morrison, who grew up in Newhallville and moved to Dixwell 20 years ago after college and graduate school, said she works to bridge the Yale-New Haven divide.
“Growing up in New Haven there has always been an unsaid rule that the two should not interact,” she said. “I never bought into that. I’m very committed to both sides of my ward.” She said she goes to campus to hand out newsletters and make sure student ward members have her contact information, and pointed out that “for the first time, the ward co-chairs are a permanent resident and a student.”
Morrison pointed to her experience as a social worker and alderwoman as evidence that she has “the skill set” to build relationships and solve problems in the city. As an example of an accomplishment as alderwoman, she cited her role in defeating a proposal to charge a $20 parking fee for New Haven residents at Lighthouse Point Park. “Everyone doesn’t have $20 to get into the beach,” she said. “So it’s small, but it’s huge. Especially on those hot days, and you don’t have $20.”
Walking around the Dixwell neighborhood Tuesday, Helen Powell said it was her neighbors who motivated her to run for alderwoman after 25 years working for the registrar of voters.
“I’m here for the people,” she said. “One of the biggest things when I’m walking is, ‘Who is Jeanette? Helen, we know you!’”
Powell, who has lived in Dixwell since 1962, listed reopening the Q House as her first priority.
“The Q House is important because we don’t have any place for young people to go,” she said. As alderwoman, she said, she would try to find funding for the reopening, and suggested that Yale might be enlisted as a partner or a source of money.
Priority number two, she said, is jobs. She suggested that Yale could provide resources and volunteers to teach people from the neighborhood skills, such as reading and computer skills, that they need to find work.
Powell emphasized her engagement in the community. “Jeanette is Jeanette, Cordelia is Cordelia,” she said, “but I was here all these years.” She said she played a big role in replacing the brick high-rise Elm Haven housing projects with the Monterey Place apartments in the 1990s, and served as president of the Freddie Fixer neighborhood parade. She said she sees the role of alderwoman as an extension of that kind of community involvement.
“Somebody could call me: ‘Helen, I ain’t got no food.’ Well, we got a food pantry; give me your name and your address. We’ll come and write down what you need. I can’t promise you a job, but I can refer you to different people. We’re gonna work on the Q House, we’re gonna work on getting back the food pantry, the clothes pantry. Little things.”
Cordelia Thorpe (at left in photo) has been a fixture of Ward 22 aldermanic races, running unsuccessfully in every election since 2005. Reached by phone on Wednesday, the lifelong Dixwell resident and former Department of Corrections employee described her platform as “more inclusive for the community.”
“No one in the ward knows what’s happening,” said Thorpe. “We go outside, a building’s disappeared. Every other ward has input into what happens in their community except for ours.”
She said that if elected, the first thing she would do is “notify my constituents of the Board of Aldermen meetings so they can accompany and see first hand what is going on.”
Asked about her strengths as a candidate, Thorpe replied, “Knowledge of the way the committees and the city is structured. Also, I’m using my own funding, so therefore I can listen to the people directly and do what they ask me to do.”
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Abbreviated bottom line
Q-House = false hope periodically dangled in front of the NH African American community to garnish votes.
Real Hope = we have many new school facilities in which programs can be run…so organize them and run them. The union coalition has been in power for some time now and doesn’t seem to understand these facilities exist. Don’t quite know why other than (see above).