Harp Launches PAC To Build Political Base

Markeshia Ricks PhotoMayor Toni Harp’s team has created a political action committee to elect alders who support her agenda — and possibly to lay the groundwork for a run for governor.

Both goals are encompassed by the name of the PAC, “See 2 2020.”

A top Harp adviser, city youth services chief and former campaign manager Jason Bartlett, organized the PAC over the summer and serves as its strategist. Bartlett’s City Hall administrative assistant, Rae Johnson-Boykin, is the PAC ‘s treasurer. A city firefighter and attorney, Amin Dawud, is listed as the chairperson.

The PAC held its first fundraiser in October at Fornarelli’s Restaurant on Orange Street. So far it has received over $2,000 from contributors. These include city officials like deputy economic development chief Stephen Fontana ($250) and Livable City Initiative Executive Director Serena Neal-Sanjurjo ($100), as well as former Harp mayoral opponent Kermit Carolina ($250) and his former campaign manager, attorney Michael Jefferson ($250), according to filings with the State Elections Enforcement Commission. (Ugly Radio and WNHH radio host Joe Ugly gave $250.)

Harp said in an interview Monday that she originally approved the PAC to raise money for independent polling to figure out where New Haveners in general stand on hot-button issues, like fights at the Board of Education. That poll hasn’t been done yet, she said.

She said the PAC will also support candidates for the Board of Alders who support her positions on issues of safety, education and enforcement — hence the acronym “SEE” in the PAC’s name.

“I think that it’s important for there to be more than one” organized political entity advancing an agenda in New Haven, Harp said. She said she wants to “help candidates who buy into my vision.”

Paul Bass PhotoBartlett said that the “2020” stands for the fact that Harp plans to seek at least two more terms in office as mayor, through 2020.

He said it also stands for the fact that he and other organizers would like her to run for governor in two years.

“I personally have encouraged her to consider running for governor,” Bartlett said. “I will continue to do so, especially in light of what happened this year” in the federal elections. The new PAC could “morph” into a statewide campaign vehicle, Bartlett said.

Indeed, in the original filing, the organizers marked “yes” next to boxes asking if the PAC is “authorized to make contributions or expenditures for candidates for statewide office” or the General Assembly.

Asked if she envisions running for governor, Harp offered this response: “Many have urged me to consider running for governor, but my job is to run this city and continue to improve safety, education and employment for New Haven residents. Right now my focus is on the job I have and providing the best services to the people of New Haven,” Harp said.

Doing that job has at times involved running up against organized groups that oppose her specific policies. Harp won her first term as mayor with the support of the Yale UNITE HERE union locals that dominate both the Board of Alders and the Democratic Town Committee. The two sides have had a rockier relationship since then. The administration has also clashed with the politically savvy firefighters union and Yale, the most powerful corporate force in town. Until now, Harp, unlike some of her predecessors, has not actively sought to build an independent political base to advance her agenda.

Harp’s administration clashed with the Board of Alders over approval to build a new public school in conjunction with Southern Connecticut State University (that took two tries over two years); over appointments to the Board of Education; and the fate of economic development projects that were stalled by the board’s UNITE HERE majority in part over its differences with the university.

If the PAC had existed in 2015, Bartlett said, it might have supported alder candidates who had voted for approving that SCSU project that year.

He said other relevant issues might include support for the mayor’s 10-point plan for the public schools, including investing in expanded-day learning, technology, a Saturday reading academy and raises for paraprofessionals.

Bartlett said he hopes the PAC will also help the public understand Harp’s positions better on controversial issues. He gave the example of the plan to remove Engine 9 from the Ellsworth Avenue firehouse, a subject that prompted vociferous protest from the firefighters union.

“I thought the narrative was very one-sided. It probably would have been helpful to get more information out that we weren’t trying to shut down a firehouse,” Bartlett said.

Mayor Harp addressed the status of her economic development agenda and other issues on her latest “Mayor Monday” appearance on WNHH radio. Click on or download the above audio file to listen to the episode. The episode was made possible with the support of Gateway Community College and Berchem, Moses & Devlin, P.C.

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posted by: Sheldonblackwood09 on November 29, 2016  4:12pm

The thought of Harp making a run for governor is troubling.

posted by: Noteworthy on November 29, 2016  4:48pm

Harp On This Notes:

1. It is laughable that Harp would run for governor. She is having a hard time competently running the city of 130,000 with a budget of $750 million. We are deeper in debt, have had a disaster at the police, fire and education departments. That of course, doesn’t include the multi-million dollar mess that is a direct consequence of Harp’s many HR issues. The state has 50K employees, a $20 billion budget and there are 3.5 million people living in the state.

2. Also making it dubious - is the state’s dire budget issues - a complete mess that is a direct consequence of Toni Harp the state senator, who oversaw the Appropriations Committee with her BFF Toni Walker. These two never limited spending and in fact scoffed at a taxpayer Constitutionally passed spending cap. They approved massive debt, new levels of welfare and new programmatic spending. Next year’s deficit: $1.3 BILLION.

3. I sure hope Bartlett isn’t organizing this political money grubbing machine on taxpayer’s time. It has zero taxpayer benefit.

4. It is ironic that the Harp House, who championed its ability to forge consensus and collaboration in the first election - that she now decides with her attack dog in tow, to create an enterprise so she can try to get her own handpicked rubber-stampers who will blindly allow her agenda to move forward without questions.

5. By the way - whatever happened to that $2 million tax bill family debt that Wendell Harp owed the state? It seems to have disappeared. And has the family finally started paying back all those mortgages owed to the CHFA?


posted by: THREEFIFTHS on November 29, 2016  5:54pm

Harp Run for governor .Last I heard State Senator Ted Kennedy, Jr was the one they are grooming.But it will not matther do to the fact that slick Dan Malloy has killed any chance for the Democratic party to keep the govenors seat.You will have a republican govenor in 2018.You can thank the Democratic party for this when they help lay off the state workers and the attack on school teachers.I will say it again.The only weapon the people have is the system of Proportional representation electoral systems by which divisions in an electorate are reflected proportionately in the elected body.

posted by: Bill Saunders on November 29, 2016  8:29pm

I was unaware that Harp actually had an agenda besides bad housekeeping. 
This sounds like a game for Loyalists getting in line for future open appointments…

Just to be fair with Labor Laws, City Hall might want to add a small addendum to future job postings:
“Applicants making Small donations to See 2 2020 will be given ‘extra’ consideration’.”

posted by: JohnTulin on November 30, 2016  9:27am

What Noteworthy said.

posted by: BetweenTwoRocks on November 30, 2016  9:48am

If Malloy and the Dem General Assembly manage to actually push through and legalize marijuana, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Malloy’s popularity climb and have him run again. Not sure if anybody would challenge him in a Democratic Primary at that point. He’s vulnerable, but it’s not cheap to run a campaign against him, as Foley can attest. He at least has the infrastructure already in place.

If he doesn’t run again, no reason to think there’s some brilliant, well-liked Republican out there blue Connecticut is going to vote for. They hated Malloy and still didn’t vote for Foley.

posted by: Renewhavener on November 30, 2016  10:28am

@Sheldonblackwood09, “The thought of Harp making a run for governor is troubling.”


@Nothworthy, “5. By the way - whatever happened to that $2 million tax bill family debt that Wendell Harp owed the state…”

It was settled: http://www.nhregister.com/general-news/20140216/harp-company-no-longer-top-tax-scofflaw-in-connecticut 

Though how specifically it was settled remains a question that no one has been able to full answer.

posted by: Renewhavener on November 30, 2016  11:02am

@BTR, agree with some of what you said, but Foley was wooden, kind of chilly and generally unrelatable in the pre-trump context.  Foley also brought in Chris Christy to stump for him.  If there is one thing Connecticut has more contempt for than Malloy and his taxes… it’s New Jersey.

posted by: southwest on November 30, 2016  12:43pm

Let’s learn to master one job at a time before attempting to move to the next!!

posted by: robn on November 30, 2016  10:50pm

Two words…kamikaze mission

This plan was obviously hatched prior to Hillary Clintons disappointing, but highly predictable failure to win a similar identity politics campaign against today’s equivalent of PT Barnum (on crystal meth).

posted by: Ewood_Parent on December 1, 2016  1:35pm

As a life long New Havener, I feel blessed to have Toni Harp as my Mayor and would be thrilled to have her as Governor. During her campaign for Mayor she focused on the City’s youth and as of today there are more programs for the kids in New Haven than ever before. As a Youth Advocate, she will eternally have my respect and admiration. Mayor Harp truly cares about our city and its residents and I’m sick and tired of hearing negative comments about her. If you think you can do better, why don’t you run?

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on December 1, 2016  4:58pm

@ Ewood_Parent,

You’re freely granted the opportunity to express your baseless support for Mayor Harp as I equally am granted the same opportunity to express my displeasure of her politically.

Governor?  I’m looking forward to the opportunity to crisscross the state with her opponent telling the real story about her. 

The state is currently hemorrhaging economically because of the incessant tax increases she voted for while a state senator/co-chair of the appropriations committee. 

Recently she talked about the paraprofessionals being underpaid and how they need a raise.  Instead of submitting this legislation to the board for an up or down vote, she’s now talking about a $4.6 million dollar shortfall.  Her statement was made to pacify the paraprofessionals by giving them the impression that she feels their pain.  Voters are not as stupid as most politicians believe.

My quest isn’t personal, it’s political in nature only.  Just like I believe her quest to address me in the manner in which she has done was also political.  I get it, but I fight as I was taught.

Who taught me politically?  Some of the best New Haven had to offer.  Names such as Arthur T. Barbieri, Vinnie Mauro, Stanley Rodgers, Wendell Harp, Jean Wadley, Fred Wilson, Jack Keys, Hank Parker, to a lesser extent Walter Brooks.  And above all, my wonderful mother Bessie Jenkins.  These persons taught me that in politics you must have loyalty.  Simply put, remain loyal to those who remain loyal to you. 

So for me my friend, I’ve run for office and maintained the same level of character and fight while in office.  Which begs the question, what about you?

posted by: fearless on December 2, 2016  9:58am

Ewood parent. Your comments are not “baseless support” Some folks can disagree with your opinions without denigrating your positions or yourself. Some can’t Harp has many enemies on this website Would a man succeeding King John get the same giving all the issues with BOE, NHFD, and NHPD? The local power males are all in the hunt right now to see who will challenge her   Loyalty?  Not so much in NH today 20 yrs in the State Senate? No problem. Get us the money.  1 and 1half yrs in City Hall cleaning up someone’s mess?  Not so much.  Political differences ? How about personal issues? How about gender issues? Loyalty ?  Forget loyalty. Harp has her issues and the financials need much more scrutiny She will be primaried and may lose. We have a mess here Harp will get what Guida and Daniels got Screwed by the power boys

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on December 2, 2016  2:19pm

@ Ewood_Parent,

Apparently one of the critics are removed from understanding the definition of certain words uttered by me. 

My uttering the word baseless doesn’t in no way mean that I am “denigrating” you.  Here’s the definition for Baseless - Without foundation in fact.  I specifically used that word because I wanted to challenge you into producing facts to substantiate your statements.  Interestingly, the person who calls himself “fearless” is actually fearful, thus the indirect [weak] shot at me by accusing me of “denigrating” you.  The definition for Denigrate is - To unfairly criticize or disparage.  Obviously I’ve done neither.

Unlike many, I measure my words very carefully and try never to harm anyone personally.  However, the problem as I see it is simple, many that are in elected positions hate criticism in any form.  Simply because they’re accustomed to being lauded by those who want something greater than what they already have.  Or want very much to be left alone by those who are in a position to make life uncomfortable.  Personally, I see nothing wrong at all with either position.  I’m a huge proponent for getting what you can in life, that is providing no one is hurt and that the personal accomplishments were achieved absent any duplicitous tactics.

For the record, I harbor absolutely no hate or dislike for Mayor Harp.  And those who know me, know this, if I did I would say it easily.  However, right now, I am highly against her politically as she too are against me.  Nevertheless, I will continue my fact based assertions when I deem it necessary to do so.