30 Launch Clyburn’s Reelection Campaign

Nick Defiesta PhotoSeniors in Newhallville have had someone these part two years review their electricity bills with them and straighten out problems—their alderwoman.

That’s one reason a crowd turned out to a vacant lot on Starr Street Saturday to support giving that alderwoman, Delphine Clyburn, a second term.

Shirley J. Lawrence, who attended Clyburn’s reelection announcement, spoke of Clyburn’s constituent service. “She checks the elderly’s bills, gives them the cards of people to go get help,” Lawrence said. “She will call ahead so they know you’re coming.”

Over 30 Clyburn supporters gathered in all as the alderwoman described the changes that had come to New Haven in the nearly two years since she was first elected in 2011: revived community policing, the creation of a “jobs pipeline”, and renewed efforts to create more youth spaces like Dixwell’s Q House and the Goffe Street Armory. She said also said she supported and include neighbors in the planned extension of an “historic” district that promises tax credits for home improvements and a historic deal with Achievement First to include local jobs and neighborhood access at a new charter school in Newhallville.

Those in attendance Saturday — including Dixwell Alderwoman Jeanette Morrison, state Rep. and former mayoral candidate Gary Holder-Winfield, and supporters from Clyburn’s church — didn’t focus as much on legislative accomplishments. Instead, like Lawrence, they highlighted how much effort Clyburn has spent working her ward, both in ensuring constituents are looked after and in engaging them in the democratic process.

In a remark that drew the strongest applause of the afternoon, Morrison credited Clyburn for the high turnout that characterized last fall’s presidential election. Newhallville has traditionally had low voter turnout in elections. Last November saw lines to vote in Clyburn’s Ward 20 that were over an hour long, resulting in one of the highest turnouts in the city. Clyburn had a lot to do with that.

Other supporters described an alderwoman who offers constituents rides to appointments and who will walk up to young men on street corners and inquire, “What are you doing?” Linking all of the testimony was a common theme: since Clyburn’s election two years ago, Newhallville is on its way to becoming a potent force in city politics.

“We’ve been on the map, they didn’t want to know us until you got here,” one passerby shouted to Clyburn, who currently runs unopposed.

Following Clyburn’s speech, government watchdog Ken Joyner (pictured) announced to the crowd that he was endorsing Clyburn for reelection because of the enormous difference he had seen in the ward in just two years.

“This is the kind of positive change we see in one term alone,” Joyner said.

Then, the crowd began to disperse for hot dogs, soda and — most importantly, in the 90 degree weather — shade.

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posted by: robn on July 8, 2013  1:54pm

Will she consistently in her campaign literature and speeches, identify the UNITE union coalition as her campaigns centralized coordinator?

posted by: BLACKFEMMEWALKING on July 8, 2013  2:25pm

I have seen nothing but inspired and inspiring leadership from Alderwoman Clyburn. She has been a true community organizer rather than politician. Good luck on your re-election campaign!

posted by: HewNaven on July 8, 2013  2:34pm

I think Clyburn is the real deal. Unfortunately, she has had to work harder than an independent alder would have in order to prove her credibility, because of the fact that her campaigns are financed by the Yale unions, as robn points out. I think if all the union-supported BOA members were as good as Clyburn there wouldn’t be as many naysayers. But for all we know, there may be community members like Clyburn in every ward, but who don’t have the money to run a campaign. This is what Local 34/CCNE fails to recognize. In some ways they level the playing field when a community activist like Clyburn is promoted to the BOA, but they simultaneously give her an unfair advantage due to the amount of money they have. Their argument is that City Hall and other interest groups can back BOA candidates and run their campaigns just as well, so why shouldn’t we. Its a tangled issue with no easy answer, given the influence of money in politics.

Two things that would help this problem are: public financing for BOA campaigns, and a non-partisan group that would educate voters and train community activists that are interested in running for local office about the intricacies of operating a political campaign. Campaigning is not something most residents have done before and that experiential void contributes to the phenomena of disenfranchisement on one hand, and making a career in politics, on the other. Those are two interrelated issues that we should all agree need to be addressed.

posted by: BLACKFEMMEWALKING on July 8, 2013  3:20pm

HewNaven- re: educating voters and training leaders That is exactly what CCNE has done/still does. Clyburn like other leaders in the city participated in CCNE leadership trainings that got them engaged and moved them to run for office. Other of her colleagues on the BOA participated in rallies, meetings, the Community Voter Project, and trainings that CCNE has put on for at least the past ten years (I’ve been here for six and have attended a couple as well.)  People want to point their fingers at “the unions” not understanding the rich history of labor, community, clergy, and students working together to move things in our city. Clyburn is an example of it, she’s no exception and she’ll let everyone know that she’s a proud union member (SEIU 1199), pastor’s wife, and community member who understands that we all share the same vision and have to work collectively to make it a reality.

posted by: HewNaven on July 8, 2013  4:31pm


While I applaud CCNE’s efforts to educate voters, my comment clearly asked for a NON-PARTISAN group to undertake this endeavor, in the interest of fairness. Otherwise, what would stop any other interest group from doing the same? Would you want the Police Union recruiting voters in your neighborhood? I would rather have a group who’s sole purpose is voter education (e.g. registration, rights, etc.) You shouldn’t take that as a knock.

posted by: dorothy25 on July 8, 2013  8:46pm

Ok HewNaven, then you go organize that.  Or do you just expect for the democracy fairy to grant your wish for a non-partisan organization of YOUR dreams?

Clyburn is part of an inspiring group of folks who recognized their own leadership and connected with an organization, CCNE, that develops working-class grassroots leaders.  Delphine is a phenomenal leader because of all of her connections (to her union, to the union movement overall, to her role as a care giver, mother, wife, etc.), not despite them.

Rather than concocting half-baked proposals for social justice, try for a moment to engage with what Delphine and others are actually doing and who they really are.