A third candidate has entered the race for New Haven’s open state Senate seat: Juan Candelaria.
Candelaria would become New Haven’s first Latino state senator if he were to win the seat. Candelaria has served as a state representative for the past 11 years.
A special election for the 10th Senate District seat will take place Feb. 25. The seat became vacant this month when Toni Harp resigned from it to begin her duties as New Haven’s new mayor. (Candelaria is pictured above at a rally on behalf of allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses.)
Candelaria joins another New Haven state representative, Gary Holder-Winfield, in the race. Former West Rock Alderman Darnell Goldson said he, too, plans to run.
Like Holder-Winfield, Candelaria stressed his experience for the job. The city lost a powerful senator when Harp resigned; she had served for 21 years and co-chaired the legislature’s Appropriations Committee.
“I understand the process. I built the relationships. It’s not stepping in as a new legislator, not understanding the process, not having the relationship with leadership. It will be a smooth transition,” Candelaria said in an interview Sunday.
Candelaria identified crime and jobs as top issues. As chair of the legislature’s Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, he helped secure $7 million in violence-prevention money for cities as part of last year’s gun-control bill, he said. He said he’d like to see more crime-prevention and job-training money get to New Haven, including training for manufacturing jobs.
A convention of 10th District Democrats is scheduled to meet later this week to endorse a candidate for the seat. Candelaria is seeking that endorsement. If he fails to get it, he doesn’t know if he will seek to petition his way on the ballot, he said.
Holder-Winfield (pictured) said he “absolutely” plans to petition his way onto the ballot if he fails to win the party nomination, just as he has said since first declaring his intention to run months ago.
“Nothing has changed,” Holder-Winfield said.
“I’d rather not be facing one of my colleagues. But everyone has a right to run We’ll see who wins in the end.”
Goldson (pictured) said Sunday he will definitely petition, too. He said he plans to “pick up my petitions on Monday.”
“I’m not going to make many friends, as usual, but I’m going to have lots of fun” in the campaign, Goldson said.