Republican Eyes Ward 7 Seat

Thomas MacMillan PhotoAs he begins his campaign to become the next downtown alder, Paul Phillipino said he already has leg up in the race—because he’s a Republican.

In New Haven.

You don’t usually hear in that in a city that elects zero Republicans to its 30-member Board of Alders or to any of its state legislative seats, let alone to the mayor’s office. (The last Republican won that seat in 1951.)

But in an upcoming special election, Phillipino (pictured) argued, he’ll have an “outsider” status that will help him win votes.

Phillipino’s opponent in the race, Democrat Abby Roth, said the Republican’s claim might have merit, “if he were running against someone who is more entrenched in some way.”

She said she’s not part of any political machine or insider group.

“I think of myself as more independent-minded,” she said. Roth said she wouldn’t be a part of the labor-backed Democratic majority on the board, nor would she necessarily join the alternative “People’s Caucus.”

Downtown’s Ward 7 voters will head to the polls to choose between Roth and Phillipino on Monday, March 17. The two candidates are vying for the seat recently vacated by Doug Hausladen when he was appointed the city’s new traffic tsar.

Paul Bass PhotoRoth (at left in photo, with Democratic Ward Co-chair Alberta Witherspoon), who’s 45, moved back to New Haven seven years ago. She works as a special assistant to the dean of the Yale School of Management. Click here for more about Roth, who announced her candidacy last month.

Phillipino, who’s 28, announced his candidacy on Monday. In an interview this week in the Woodland Cafe coffee shop on Orange Street, he shared a little bit about his background.

A Massachusetts native, he moved to town six years ago to work for the Knights of Columbus. The job drew him to New Haven after he graduated from College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts. He lives in the Smoothie building at the edge of Wooster Square and downtown.

Phillipino said he has volunteered for Republican political campaigns—Chris Shays’ senatorial quest, Andrew Roraback’s bid for Congress—but has never run for office himself. “I’ve always been interested in politics, since high school,” he said.

If elected, he would focus on public safety and quality of life issues, Phillipino said.

“I think my chances are good,” he said. “Being an outsider works in my favor.”

He said he has the support of the Republican Town Committee and will be able to enlist help from college Republicans.

Phillipino said he worries that the involvement of Yale’s labor unions in city government has led to elected officials who put “special interests” ahead of city interests.

Roth said labor involvement has caused the Board of Alders to become “a more powerful entity than it has in the past.”

She said she was approached by the unions and by the People’s Caucus when she announced her candidacy. “I’m not affiliated with either,” she said. “I like the idea of keeping a more independent mind.”

On the budget, Phillipino said he’s looking for Mayor Toni Harp to do a better job securing payment in lieu of taxes funding from the state, to help avoid tax increases.

Roth agreed. “I think it’s critical that we don’t increase taxes right now. I think that would drive people out of the city,” she said. “We need to find ways to expand the base. ... and to get more money from the state.”

Both candidates said they’ll be pounding the pavement and knocking on doors until the election on March 17.

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posted by: robn on February 27, 2014  10:32am

Mr. Phillipino should take note from Mr. Mullins failed to win the State Senate seat as a Republican. As a basic campaign strategy, try not say crazy $#!t every time you open your mouth.

posted by: Mark Oppenheimer on February 27, 2014  10:50am

Downtown voters will have a delightful time asking Mr. Phillipino which of his employer’s, the Knights of Columbus’s, very right-wing opinions he shares. I think a KofC employee is a hard sell to New Haven aldermanic voters.

posted by: Wooster Squared on February 27, 2014  12:57pm

Have to agree with Mark on this one. The Knights of Columbus have very conservative, some would say outdated, views on many social issues like women’s rights and gay rights, along with their extreme anti-choice views, when it comes to women’s reproductive rights.

Did the NHI ask Mr. Phillipino if he shares his employers views on these issues? The Knights of Columbus are completely out of step with the progressive values held my most New Haven residents.

posted by: Westville Mom on February 27, 2014  1:38pm

Mr. Oppenheimer, you are probably right, but your assumptions are rather insulting to the people of that ward.  You are essentially saying that not enough people in New Haven are sufficiently open-minded to even contemplate voting for a conservative thinker.  Technically (and very sadly), you are probably correct, but it’s not a particularly courageous point to make about a “blue” ward in a “blue” city in a “blue” state.

In his extremely courageous Congressional testimony yesterday, Prof. Jonathan Turley (a liberal) said this: “Our system was designed to force opposing factions to deal and compromise with each other. It is a system designed for political division, not political consensus.”

True Democracy (with a capital D) is dead in New Haven and its journalists seem to throw more dirt on its grave every day.

Please read the entire testimony here:

posted by: Dwightstreeter on February 27, 2014  2:45pm

A one-party town is not healthy for democracy. It would be great to have some original points of view on the tax system here, but merely repeating the old theme of getting more PILOT $$ is NOT going to be a vote getter.

While the Republican Party in New Haven appears to be moribund, the Democrats don’t show much innovation either. Development and getting more from PILOT are not solutions or they would have worked a long time ago.

posted by: JohnTulin on February 27, 2014  3:00pm

New Haven needs Republicans running and in office.  I can’t believe I just said that….

...but in order to ensure democracy and to produce the best society, we need dissenting and alternative views. 

See:  JS Mill.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on February 27, 2014  3:25pm

If you had proportional representation you would not have this problem.

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

posted by: AverageTaxpayer on February 27, 2014  3:26pm

@ John Tulin,

If your premise that New Haven needs Republicans is true, (and I’m not sure it is), then we would also need Republicans who don’t share the anti-gay, anti-woman philosophy of the Knights of Columbus.

I am glad that opposition to such bigoted philosophies runs so strong in the Elm City, as to make someone like Paul Phillipino an immediate also-ran.

Personally I look forward to voting against Paul and the Knights of Columbus three weeks from now. And I’m proud of my neighborhood being one that won’t give Mr. Phillipino even 100 votes.

Finally, what can we do to get the KofC to pay their fair share of taxes? A group that gives millions and millions of dollars to further ananti-gay agenda, (in California they were the number one financial backer of the Prop 8 effort)  is not one that should get a break from property taxes.

posted by: Just Thinking... on February 27, 2014  6:34pm

I cannot comment on KofC policies, but when it comes to taxes, if you check the records you will see that they are a 501c8, not c3, and thus are taxed on their real estate. I believe they also participate on the Town Green Board as one of the top 10 property tax payers in the district.

posted by: Christopher Schaefer on February 27, 2014  6:55pm

“Roth said she wouldn’t be a part of the labor-backed Democratic majority”. How can she be running as a Democrat and not be part of the majority—or, more precisely, the ONLY party on the BOA? “If elected, he would focus on public safety and quality of life issues, Phillipino said.” Our current Only-Party-In-Town has completely FAILED our residents on BOTH of these fronts; Ward 7 voters would be foolish not to try a fresh approach. Also note that, despite some of the comments here,  gay rights and women’s reproductive rights are utterly IRRELEVANT to what the BOA does; thus it’s entirely appropriate that NHI reporter Thomas MacMillan did NOT bring up such ideological issues merely because of Phillipino’s employer. This would be like saying that Abby Roth, because she is employed by the Yale School of Management, bears responsibility for the ugly monstrosity that SOM built on Whitney Ave. and that Roth certainly must share the same avaricious views as the more ignominious investment folks on Wall Street.  Wouldn’t it make more sense and be more relevant to NOT vote for Roth if you’re unhappy with city govt’s tired retread ideas? What SHOULD be of interest to Ward 7 voters is that Phillipino’s employer, the K of C, is PRIMARILY a highly-successful insurance entity, employing nearly 5,000 people in its New Haven headquarters and it consistently earns the highest insurance-industry ratings for fiscal stability and ethical business practices.  “Fiscal stability” and “ethical business practices” sound like characteristics we could use a LOT more of in our city government. And on issues that ARE relevant to the BOA—budget, property taxes, business climate, education, crime, etc.—John Tulin has hit the nail on the head: “to ensure democracy and to produce the best society, we need dissenting and alternative views.”

posted by: FOYI on February 27, 2014  7:38pm

Is it guilt by association (employed by K of C) or is it Paul is associated with a political party that is not Democrat? 
Do many issues arise on the board of alderman that deal with the beliefs of the K of C that would make Paul unable to represent his ward?
This is small time politics.  See what he has to offer to the ward.  Don’t just judge him based on his political party or employer.  Keep your minds open.

posted by: New Haven Nuisance on February 27, 2014  10:13pm

Both Paul and Abby are reasonable, intelligent, level-headed individuals who should be judged based on their individual platforms as they relate to fulfilling the duties of Alder of Ward 7, and not on ridiculous assumptions based on tenuous associations. If more level-headed concerned citizens like Abby and Paul ran for public office we would all benefit immensely.

posted by: ElmJackCity on February 28, 2014  2:51am

I think it is important before we begin completely bashing him for his political party that we consider what type of person he his.  I have encountered him frequent times in the downtown area when grabbing lunch.  He is a consummate gentleman and very friendly.  Have an open mind and remember that having both parties in governance is the point of a two party (multi-party) system.  The current machine is not serving the greater good at present.  BOA merely acts as a rubber stamp for institutional interests.  Hopefully, Phillipino is in favor of helping businesses and promoting civic participation which, in my opinion, New Haven would benefit from.

posted by: Elm City Resident on February 28, 2014  8:11am

Mr. Oppenheimer is dangerously close to crossing a religious line that is personally offensive and widely unacceptable.  As a Catholic, I’m hurt that his narrow opinion of the Knights of Columbus would allow him to comment in such a way but (as a Catholic) I also believe in redemption.  Please be more careful when writing your comments next time.

posted by: robn on February 28, 2014  9:46am

Marginalizing moderates in either party strengthens the crazies. It’s in the best interest of our country for minority party candidates to get elected on reasonable platforms that will eventually influence upward.

posted by: AverageTaxpayer on February 28, 2014  11:41am

Guilt by association? Small-time politics? Ridiculous assumptions? Moderate Republican?

Whoa people, whoa. Please, let’s not confuse the Knights of Columbus’ sales agents with normal employment.

First, WOMEN NEED NOT APPLY. Amazing, isn’t it? In this, the 21st century.

If you can get by that, please understand that in order to get a job with the KofC, you must first join their fraternal order. So it’s not guilt by association, instead it’s freely associating with an organization that still thinks a woman’s place is in the home, and one that has actively spent millions and millions to try and prevent gay people from having the right to marry.

Please do your own Googling. Read how the KofC requires an applicant to submit to an interview of his wife. (Note that’s not his or her partner, or his or her spouse…) My lord, can that be true?

Phillipino has choices. He chooses to sell insurance for the Knights of Columbus, and not some other company. He chooses to belong to their bigoted order. He also chooses to affiliate with the Republican Party, and put himself very much on the wrong side of the culture war.

So if you want people like me to even think about voting for a Republican, they’ll first have to come out and tell us values voters what they think about WOMEN NEED NOT APPLY, gay rights, the minimum wage, a women’s right to choose, drilling in the arctic, etc.

posted by: robn on February 28, 2014  12:36pm


Actually you can neither sell, not purchase KofC insurance unless you’re part of their order. I’m not sure that they exclude their women’s auxiliary from their workforce.

They think of themselves as charitable and inclusive, you the opposite. My question to you is, if you think their values are so contrary to New Haven (or vice versa), why do you think they stay here?

posted by: FOYI on February 28, 2014  1:11pm

Average taxpayer

Women are part of their work force.

And woman can obtain insurance through their spouse.

posted by: Christopher Schaefer on February 28, 2014  1:56pm

“drilling in the arctic”! Damn, I KNEW there was a reason why it’s so cold out—and why this, and other “value issues” that are utterly irrelevant to what a Ward 7 Alder actually does in city govt, might be such pressing issues for New Haven’s Board of Alders anyway. I mean,  forget about killer property taxes that the mayor wants to increase even more, forget that our high school dropout rate INCREASED last year, forget that our govt can’t even clear the snow. Let’s keep this a 1-party town so we can maintain the status quo and utterly quash any REAL discussion of how our city govt works. Or doesn’t. I mean, I kind of like all those mountainous piles of snow there are STILL in the street; reminds of Vermont. And paying even MORE in taxes will help me stay more focused on how my money is being spent. So when casting our votes for a New Haven alder, we must remember gay & women’s rights, culture wars and—most importantly—we must save the Arctic! Because, in the end, it’s not about LOCAL, New Haven govt issues—it’s about “values”. (Really?...)

posted by: AverageTaxpayer on February 28, 2014  4:53pm


Wear yourself out trying to find a female sales agent:

Women are not part of their sales force. Maybe they have a few women working at KofC headquarters, but there aren’t any women in leadership positions either:

So I’m not backing down.

Robin—Why does KofC stay here? Tax breaks? I don’t know. But they sure don’t jibe with 21st century American values. Isn’t it time for them to move forward? I mean even Augusta National Golf Club, a bastion of male elitism if ever there was one, decided to go co-ed.

In any case, it’d be good and interesting to hear what Phillipino has to say on the subject of female colleagues.

posted by: FOYI on February 28, 2014  7:27pm

Average tax payer you are focusing on a small picture. Step back and look at the entire structure.  No need to wear myself out.  The future potential taxes we will pay are doing that. 

It would be great to hear what Paul has to say. Give him a chance, why judge before he has an opportunity.