Keitazulu Names Cabinet

Melissa Bailey PhotoBuild two new vo-tech schools. Bring back Petisia Adger as police chief. Install Jorge Perez as superintendent of schools.

Those were a few ideas Sundiata Keitazulu floated Monday as the lesser-known mayoral candidate unveiled his vision for New Haven.

Keitazulu, a Newhallville plumber, is one of three people who have filed as official candidates in the race to replace outgoing Mayor John DeStefano in January; state Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield and Alderman Justin Elicker have filed as well and begun amassing money and campaign organizations.

Keitazulu shared his vision in an interview with the Independent Monday afternoon at Dixwell’s Stetson Library branch, just a couple of hours before DeStefano’s annual State of the City speech. (He had announced a campaign event at the library; no other reporters showed.)

The 56-year-old candidate said he would focus on helping the inner city, not just downtown. His plans include:

• Create two new vocational-technical schools serving a total of 1,000 students by day and 1,000 adults by night with job-training programs. The schools would teach New Haveners plumbing, electrical work, carpentry, nursing, computers, how to drive a tractor trailer, accounting, and construction. “If we produce a mass skilled workforce, we can come out of poverty,” Keitazulu said. He said the city needs to launch a broader effort than the vo-tech school planned for Gateway Community College’s abandoned Long Wharf campus.

• Hire Petisia Adger, a former assistant police chief who retired when Chief Dean Esserman came into town, as the city’s police chief. Adger is well-respected in the inner city, Keitazulu said.

• Hire a new schools superintendent after Reginald Mayo retires. Asked if he has a candidate in mind, Keitazulu named Jorge Perez, a banker who currently serves as president of the Board of Aldermen. “You don’t have to have an educational background” to be a successful superintendent, Keitazulu said. Reached later, Perez declined the offer. “I appreciate the vote of confidence,” Perez said, “but I don’t foresee superintendent of schools being in my future.” (Perez is weighing whether to run for mayor himself.)

• Require that half of city government jobs go to New Haven residents.

• Bring back the Dixwell Community “Q” House and create five new teen centers in the city with a focus on education. Hire teenagers in a “teen safety patrol” to help police after school.

• Hire kids and adults trained at city vo-tech schools to build new houses on vacant city property, then sell those properties to homeowners to put them on the tax rolls.

• Lower taxes. Accomplish this with the revenue created by the vacant lot conversion.

Keitazulu was the first person to announce his candidacy this election season. Click on the play arrow to watch a previous interview. He said his sister, Carlet Garvin, will serve as his campaign manager. His daughter, Johnisha Keitazulu, is also helping out. Keitazulu said he plans to seek public financing. So far, fundraising “is not going really good,” he said. Before donating, he said, “people want to know if you are really running.”

Keitazulu said he is really running. And he aims to put poverty at the center of the discussion during what is sure to be a busy campaign season.

“The poverty issue has not been addressed,” he said. “Nobody’s talking about it.”


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posted by: anonymous on February 5, 2013  12:07pm

Great ideas. 

Will someone organize a Candidate Forum that is specifically devoted to the issue of poverty?

posted by: urban ed on February 5, 2013  1:37pm

A++ on the vo-tech idea, but…..

One has to hold a special certification to be a public schools superintendent. Doesn’t sound like Jorge wishes to go back to school anytime soon.


Residency rules are unconstitutional. The city got egg on its face over this already once. But lack of knowledge, or selective amnesia seems to rule many folks, and many commenters to the NHI in particular. Energy is better spent trying to make New Haven a place where people WANT to live. (For the record and before someone calls me out as a greedy suburbanite unionist public employee butinski, I DO want to live in New Haven. Which is why I have for 25 years. But different people require different motivators.)

posted by: Yaakov on February 5, 2013  1:42pm

Plenty of good ideas… but why replace Dean Esserman? We’re actually having good results for the first time in a very long time. Crime is down. The streets are safer. Is this just over a grudge? (I’m not alleging that it is. I’m sincerely asking.)

posted by: HhE on February 5, 2013  3:29pm

“You don’t have to have an educational background” to be a successful superintendent, Keitazulu said.—actually, one does.  Not only is there the certification issue that urban ed so wisely pointed out, there is a need to really understand education.  (This is one of the real problems with Teach For America, the idea that anyone can be a teacher.)

A lot of these ideas would be great, if we were not already swimming in debt. 

“Energy is better spent trying to make New Haven a place where people WANT to live. ”  well said.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on February 5, 2013  4:25pm

I to agree with the vo-tech and medical school (city ones) to Jeffery when he ran and I have also brought it up to Justin as well. And both see a need for them.

And the real issue of poverty is totally a must. It is not addressed as it should be. Yes we have shelters, and random programs. But I truly feel a disconnect that many have with the real issues of it.  But poverty to some is making 45,000 and getting the low income housing in 350 state street…to others it is no food or heat. And many claim they get it and want to help but I really do not see the real needed programs. Just saying…my 2 cents

posted by: nib1 on February 5, 2013  4:27pm

Why in the world would you bring back Petisia Adger?  There are four capable Asst. Chiefs available right now. That is an insult to the current Asst. Chiefs. Do you think you will have the respect of the police department as the Mayor if you bring someone back from the past?

posted by: getyourfactstraight on February 6, 2013  11:44am

Oh boy oh boy. Means well but, well lets just leave it at that.