1 Incumbent Unseated In Ward Co-Chair Races

Allan Appel PhotoA challenge to the city Democratic Party’s new ruling coalition fell short in the Beaver Hills neighborhood Tuesday night, in one of two primaries for town committee seats.

The primaries were for the positions of ward co-chair in Beaver Hills’ Ward 28 and upper Westville’s Ward 26. Each ward elects two co-chairs, who help the city party endorse and elect candidates for city and state offices.

In Ward 26, the team of Amy Marx and Sharon Jones defeated opponents Ronald Rainey and Bridget Gardner by a 3-1 margin. Marx, a visible supporter of independent mayoral candidate Justin Elicker in last fall’s mayoral election, collected 152 votes at the Mauro/Sheridan School polling station; Jones, an incumbent ward chair (from a different ward; redistricting changed her ward) who backed Toni Harp in the mayoral election, collected 146 votes. Rainey got 55 votes, Gardner, 38.

The victors vowed to use their victory to help more neighbors meet each other and get involved in local politics. They also vowed to work “hard” for the reelection of Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

“We live in an incredibly diverse neighborhood in which not enough neighbors know each other,” Marx said.

Allan Appel Photo“The election means our neighborhood is ready for a change, to be committed to each other,” added Jones. Marx’s daughter, Sophie Schonberger, then handed Jones a bouquet in congratulations. “Make me cry—give me flowers,” Jones responded.

The incumbent co-chairs in Ward 28, Jess Corbett and Donald Walker, beat back a challenge from Claudette Robinson-Thorpe (who’s also the ward’s alder) and Clython Thompson Jr. Robinson-Thorpe mounted the campaign as part of an effort launched earlier this year to challenge the coalition that dominates both the city Democratic Party and the Board of Alders.

Walker received 203 votes and Corbett 184 at the Hillhouse High School polling station, according to numbers announced moments after voting ended at 8 p.m. Robinson-Thorpe received 105 votes, Thompson, 68.

Diana Li Photo“It was my 10 or 15 people versus their 100 people knocking on doors,” Robinson-Thorpe (pictured) said after the polls closed. “It’s the union-backed machine. I expected this machine. I tried to talk to constituents.” She was referring to Yale’s UNITE HERE union locals, which originally recruited her to run for the Board of Alders. This year she left the coalition and joined a dissenting group called the People’s Coalition after she said she was unfairly passed over for leadership positions on the Board of Alders.

Diana Li PhotoCorbett (pictured hugging a supporter at the polls) said he originally ran for ward co-chair years ago at Robinson’s urging. “It’s about talking to people, getting out there, getting to know voters. I’ve met people that I would have never otherwise gotten in contact with,” he said.

The Democratic ward co-chair job traditionally entails voting for candidates for mayor, alderman, and state and federal offices at party conventions. Some candidates occasionally promise to do more, using the position to promote greater ward democracy. (Click here to read about one such example.)

Primaries took place Tuesday in only two of the city’s 30 wards. In the other wards candidates who petitioned for co-chair positions automatically got them. Only one person ended up submitting valid petitions in Dixwell’s Ward 22 and Fair Haven’s Ward 14, so the new party town chair will select the second co-chair in each of those wards. The town chair will also pick both co-chairs in Wards 2 (Dwight), 6 (City Point), and 10 (East Rock), where no one petitioned for the job. The Democratic Town Committee is expected to elect Vincent Mauro Jr., the son of a late former town committee chairman from the 1980s, to the position. Click here for a list of all the people who petitioned to become ward co-chairs.

These ward co-chair elections take place every two years. They are the most local of local elections, rarely attracting notice outside of a small circle of insiders. In 2012 the races attracted an unusual amount of competition, organizing and attention, as a newly ascendant coalition that had taken control of the Board of Alders sought to do the same with the local Democratic Party. It succeeded: Candidates from the coalition swept all seven competitive races that year and gained a majority of the Town Committee. (Read about that here.)

In Ward 28, Robinson-Thorpe and Thompson ran Tuesday to unseat incumbent co-chairs Walker and Corbett, a Yale med school lab tech and active member of Yale’s UNITE HERE Local 34.

Allan Appel PhotoIn upper Westville’s Ward 26, Jones (the current Ward 27 co-chair, whose address became part of Ward 26 in the latest redistricting) ran with a first-time candidate, Marx, a legal-aid lawyer.They promised to use the position to get people more involved in community service, beginning with snow shoveling; click here to read a story about that. They faced the team of Rainey, a current ward co-chair, and Gardner, one of the homeowners who pressed the state for help with “sinking houses” in Upper Westville’s Beverly Hills section. Rainey said he agrees with Marx and Jones that the committee can do more.

The ward’s new alder, Darryl Brackeen, worked with Marx and Jones on the campaign. Part of the idea was to bring people together who had supported different candidates in last fall’s election, and to encourage new leadership.

“We want to make sure everyone from Ward 26 from end to end are all one,” Jones declared Tuesday night.

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posted by: Noteworthy on March 4, 2014  9:49pm

If we’re supposed to be ready for a change, then why back the status quo?

posted by: beaverhillsnewhaven on March 5, 2014  8:31am

Congrats to Jones and Marx for coming together after being on different sides of the Mayoral election to work together. We need that kind of leadership in the neighborhood. And if New Haven is going to play a big role in re-electing the governor we need people on all sides of the mayors race working together.

In beaver hills, there already was a whole team working together until alder Thorpe decided to run against the very ward chairs who had worked hard for four years to help her win election and re-election.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 5, 2014  9:32am

I will say it again.People wake up These Town Committees are nothing more then political patronage clubs run by Career Politicians.We must get rid of them and the Two party system and replace them IRV and Proportional Representation and Term Limits.

How & Why Other Countries have Ended the 2-Party System


posted by: getyourfactstraight on March 5, 2014  5:23pm

Well Ms. Thorpe you tried and at least a message was sent and people should respect your courage of bucking the typical backed Unite Here and that you are not afraid running for change. Not sure these two co-chairs understand that you don’t run just to be elected by a political machine and there for they should not be so proud and happy because what goes around comes around. Congrats to ward 26 for opting for change and in your case I do believe more change is truly coming. Good luck to you and hopefully Pinto!

posted by: Bridget on March 5, 2014  6:56pm

Congratulations to Sharon and Amy!  Now they will sit in the seats of those before them, that have helped to make Ward26 a great place to live.  They worked much harder to win voters and are willing to work to help elect our paid electors, which is not an easy task.  Thank you to those who voted, which is what this was all about. Porportional representation is an option that has not been put to vote, so we need to continue participating so that this volunteer position, known as the democratic team, will continue giving democratics a chance to be seated in our government, to make and enforce laws that help people.  My first run was exciting, met great people, people with very little needs and some who can not meet their daily needs.  Ron is a terrific guy who served his term and should also be applauded for the work that he and former Co-Chair Arne, Hon Sergio R. and their committee did to ensure that we could vote on voting days!—staffed and open!  Although, minimalized due to mandatory coverage at work, I accomplished, proof positive that you can join the political scene with little experience in campaigning, and with a lot of great ideas that can be implemented with inclusive-minded leaders.  Applaud all POSITIVE campaigns and help to improve our standard of living and what is decent. We vowed to work together. I will begin working with Hon Alder Darry B’scommittee, to do the work that needs to be done in OUR ward and any other wards.  We all shared ideas of the voters and even friends alike. As long as we are still working to elect great democratic representatives,  with ideas that actually work, we can make a difference.  Shame on those who disrepected the process and thank you for those who realized that we were all just applying for a position that was open-no paycheck. (A job?!)no prejudice! I will continue as a working democrat campaign volunteer. Volunteers are needed in every community for something. Neighbors working together!    Thank you all, again.