Labor Takes 8 Of 10 Aldermanic Races

CORA LEWIS PHOTOTHOMAS MACMILLAN PHOTOTwo aldermanic candidates drew fire from unions and firefighters in Tuesday’s Democratic primaries—and emerged victorious in two of the city’s hardest-fought elections.

Those candidates, attorney Mike Stratton and incumbent Downtown Alderman Doug Hausladen both won primary election battles on Tuesday. They were the only two candidates in 10 contested aldermanic races to win while running against candidates backed by Yale’s UNITE HERE Locals 34 and 35 and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the heaviest political force in town.

Both Stratton and Hausladen had drawn the ire of organized labor forces in town. Hausladen did it by creating a slate of aldermanic candidates called Take Back New Haven, organized in opposition to the union-backed majority on the Board of Aldermen. Stratton, a union basher turned union fan turned union skeptic, made an enemy of city firefighters by saying the city needs fewer of them.

Both Hausladen and Stratton also significantly outspent their opponents. Hausladen raised over $10,000 for his campaign; Stratton poured nearly the same amount into his campaign, from his own wallet. They faced an energetic battalion of vote-pulling volunteers from the labor coalition.

In downtown’s Ward 7, Hausladen defeated challenger Ella Wood, a Yale junior, 353 to 251. In Ward 19, which comprises parts of Newhallville and East Rock, Stratton defeated Maureen Gardner, 430 to 264.

Wood and Gardner also both filed papers to run as independent candidates in the general election. Tuesday evening, both candidates said they had not decided if they would stay on the campaign trail into November. They are supporters of Democratic mayoral candidate Toni Harp, who has criticized the idea of candidates running “sore loser” independent campaigns after losing primaries. Meanwhile, Hausladen and Stratton support the mayoral campaign of Justin Elicker, who lost the Democratic primary and is continuing with an independent general-election campaign.

Whoever said New Haven politics are boring? Or simple?

Everywhere else in town, candidates running with the support of Yale’s Locals 34 and 35 defeated their opponents. That was the case for Frank Douglass in Dwight’s Ward 2, Aaron Greenberg in Wooster Square’s Ward 8, Barbara Constantinople in Bella Vista/Fair Haven Heights’ Ward 11, Fair Haven’s Ward 14, Delphine Clyburn and Jeanette Morrison in Newhallville’s Wards 20 and 22, and Darryl Brackeen and Angela Russell Westville’s Wards 26 and 27. Those victories were part of a larger citywide labor-backed vote-pulling effort that enabled Toni Harp to capture 49.77 percent of the vote in a four-way mayoral primary, beating her next -closest opponent by more than a 2-1 margin.

The labor-backed grassroots vote-pulling apparatus that elected a supermajority to New Haven’s legislative body two years ago proved that it is here to stay. It will continue to dominate the Board of Aldermen this next term and shape the city’s political agenda.

And Hausladen and Stratton proved that that organization can also be beaten.

Ward 7

THOMAS MACMILLAN PHOTOHausladen, the lead organizer of Take Back New Haven, was the only member of that slate to come up with a win Tuesday. He had organized the Take Back slate as a potential counterbalance to the power of the labor-backed supermajority on the Board of Aldermen. The move riled Hausladen’s colleagues on the board, and had the unions gunning to unseat him.

Despite those obstacles, and having raised $10,000 to spend on the race, Hausladen ended up with 58 percent of the vote Tuesday night.

Earlier in the day, he hadn’t been feeling confident. At 5:55 p.m., Hausladen sent out an S.O.S. email to his base.

“We’re facing an opponent that has 40 people going door to door as we speak, pulling every possible voter to the polls to vote against the movement we’re trying to create,” he wrote. “The only way that we will win tonight is if everyone who supports what we’re trying to do comes out to help right now.”

Wood’s campaign was bolstered by strong labor support, with union volunteers shuttling voters to the polls for her. Scott Marks of the labor-affiliated Connecticut Center For A New Economy and Hugh Baran, former UNITE HERE organizer, were working the polls with her on Tuesday morning. Baran said Wood had a “very diverse team of Ward 7 residents, students and union members” volunteering for her campaign.

Wood had been a surprise last-minute entry to the race. She moved into the ward two days before the deadline to file as a candidate for alderwoman. Critics dogged her in the campaign for allegedly trying to help the unions take control of a ward represented by a labor critic without having roots there or local knowledge or experience. Click here to read one such critique in a Yale Daily News editorial. Wood addressed the critics in a debate last week, saying she is committed to getting to know the neighborhood.

CORA LEWIS PHOTOWood won the endorsements of Dwight Alderman Frank Douglass and East Rock Alderwoman Jessica Holmes. She and Hausladen peppered the ward with literature in the days leading up to the election.

After the results came in Tuesday night, Wood said she wasn’t surprised by the outcome. “If anything, I was amazed by the number of people who turned out,” she said.

CORA LEWIS PHOTOWood said she’s not sure if she’ll run in the general election. She said she would be excited to have two months to campaign, “given what we were able to do in 20 days.”

“I will talk to my supporters to see whether we can accomplish more by spending our time doing other work,” she said.

“I think this shows that a lot of voters want to align themselves with independent voices,” said Hausladen.

Ward 19

THOMAS MACMILLAN PHOTOAs Ward 19 voters arrived to vote at the Celentano School on Canner Street Tuesday, they were greeted by large signs paid for by the New Haven firefighters union, showing a fire engine with Stratton’s face on it next to the words “for sale.” Ward 19 covers parts of East Rock’s Propsect Hill neighborhood as well as parts of Newhallville; the most recent citywide ward redistricting added more East Rockers to the mix.

“Mike Stratton plans to cut your fire engine,” the sign at Celentano read, below a list of emergencies that firefighters respond to: heart attack, fire, car accident.

Firefighters jumped into the Ward 19 race after Stratton said he wants eventually to cut the fire department in half. He said the city is overstaffed with firefighters for its size and the department should be reduced through attrition.

Gardner disagreed, saying the department should remain the same size. She earned the support of the firefighters union. The 48-year-old Yale union steward also had the support of Yale’s unions.

THOMAS MACMILLAN PHOTOTuesday found firefighter Frank Ricci (pictured greeting Elicker volunteer Ed Kaplan) on Livingston Street in Ward 19. He said he was pulling votes for Gardner and mayoral candidate Toni Harp.

Ricci showed up again as the polls were closing Tuesday evening at Celentano School. He said firefighters had been pulling votes in Ward 19, Morris Cove and the Hill, as part of “normal election cycle” activism. He said he couldn’t estimate how many firefighters had been working in Ward 19 for Gardner.

THOMAS MACMILLAN PHOTOStratton, whose supporters wore new “Vote 3D” T-shirts to remind people which ballot box to mark, said he had about a dozen people working for him, half paid staff. “We’re vastly outnumbered by the suburban people coming in,” he said. Stratton made an alliance with the outgoing alderwoman, Newhallville’s Alfreda Edwards, and her supporters.

THOMAS MACMILLAN PHOTOGardner said she had 25 to 30 people working for her campaign, all unpaid. She worked the polls Tuesday evening with Scott Marks, Local 34’s Ken Suzuki (at left in photo) and others.

When the Ward 19 poll moderator read out the vote count just after 8 p.m., Stratton’s T-shirted supporters erupted in hoots and cheers.

Gardner said the election was not as close as she expected. Asked if she would follow through with plans to run in the general, she said, “I don’t know yet.”

Stratton attributed his success in part to the support of incumbent Alderwoman Edwards (at left in photo above). He said he and she would walk the neighborhood, knocking on doors. “We were up against 25 to 30 people a night” campaigning for Gardner, Stratton said.

Asked about the role of firefighters in the race, Stratton said, “I understand why the firefighters were alarmed.”

“Just leave it alone,” Edwards interrupted, advising Stratton not to go near the firefighter issue again.

Stratton said he hopes Gardner chooses not to run in November: “We’re all Democrats. We should abide by the party decision. It would be a waste of a lot of human effort and time to go through this again.”


Tags: , , ,

Post a Comment

Commenting has closed for this entry


posted by: Atticus Shrugged on September 11, 2013  1:13pm

Congrats to all of the victors last night.  I’m certain that the Board of Alders will be enhanced by your participation.  To each candidate who fought valiantly and lost, please take it in stride and do the admirable thing and choose not to run again as an independent.

posted by: NewHavenTaxTooHigh on September 11, 2013  1:24pm

A glimmer of hope for New Haven. Let’s hope that Stratton and Hausladen can win in November and then begin to build a citywide coalition capable of dismantling the Union led BOA.

posted by: Elm City Lifer on September 11, 2013  1:45pm

Stratton said he hopes Gardner chooses not to run in November: “We’re all Democrats. We should abide by the party decision. It would be a waste of a lot of human effort and time to go through this again.”

So the obvious question that the NHI didn’t ask after that statement is

“Does this mean you are now supporting and voting for Harp”

I’d love to hear the answer!

posted by: Atticus Shrugged on September 11, 2013  1:49pm

I love Stratton’s argument, we’re all democrats and the primary should decide.  I sincerely hope that he feels that way and that he choose not only not to donate to Mr. Elicker’s campaign but that he stumps for Senator Harp’s campaign. 

I’d like to see him put his money where his mouth is and stick with the democratic primary results.

posted by: NewHavenTaxTooHigh on September 11, 2013  2:30pm

One other note. It appears as though the cost to win a Ward election is ~$10,000 and the cost to win the mayoral seat is ~$300,000. The only way the union-backed Board will be displaced is by upping the ante. This Fall I hope to begin to build a Taxpayer Alliance, the purpose of which will be to recruit and support candidates that place interests of New Haven taxpayers above those of the outside special interests. The initial goal will be to raise $500,000

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on September 11, 2013  2:42pm

“We should abide by the party decision. It would be a waste of a lot of human effort and time to go through this again.”

In the case of the Ward-level races, there were only two contenders. Doing this again in the General Election would just be a repeat. This is not the case at the Mayoral level, which has gone from 4 candidates to 2. Instead of the anti-Harp vote being split 3-ways in the general election, it will not be split at all - meaning that an entirely different outcome is possible, unlike the circumstances at the ward-level.

posted by: anonymous on September 11, 2013  3:09pm

Elm City and Atticus:

Harp got 49.8% of the Democratic vote. And that’s just of Democrats who voted - there are many more who did not vote yesterday, but who will vote in November.

So in the case of the Mayoral race, it’s clear that the Democratic party voters have not spoken yet.

In the case of the Aldermanic races, the party results are much more clear. All of the candidates won with large margins among Democrats.

posted by: Atticus Shrugged on September 11, 2013  3:46pm

Oh, let the parsing of words and facts to suit your narrative begin.  If the argument is that independents should have a say as well, Miss Wood and Miss Gardner each need to run again.  I’d be shocked if there weren’t at least 200 independents in each ward, certainly enough to swing the primary results in the general election. 

If the argument is margin of victory, Hausladen won by 16 percentage points, Senator Harp won by 26 percentage points.  So, margin of victory can’t be it either.

If the argument is the race has gone from 4 to 2, and that the past results can’t be counted on, any race with three persons in it would be facially invalid and we’d need a runoff no matter the final tally.

Really, the arguments for why Mr. Stratton’s words should not apply equally to all candidates are bare.  But this is what happens when people realize their emperor has no clothes.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on September 11, 2013  4:16pm

Wood and Gardner are free to run again in the election if they want, but it just doesn’t make strategic sense. It does, however, make strategic sense for Elicker to run again since the other 25% of votes not captured by him or Harp will be up for grabs, in addition to the unaffiliated, independent, and republican votes.

posted by: anonymous on September 11, 2013  4:23pm

Atticus: Stratton got 62.0% of Democrats. Hausladen got 58.4%. Meanwhile, Harp got 49.8%. The point is, Democratic party voters have not had a chance to make their preference known for Mayor, as they have in all of the much smaller, generally two-way Aldermanic races.

posted by: HhE on September 11, 2013  4:34pm

Ms. Gardner, Ms. Woods, and Atticus Shrugged, bring it. 

Look which side of Mansfield was backing Mike Stratton.  Look at his strategic vision for Ward 19.  We will crush even harder next time.  This is a proxy war, and I have read Giap, Mao, Thompson, and Kitson.  You are done, but hay; round two will just be more practice for the future. 

If Ms. Woods wishes to have another go, then lets see another debate, let us prove again that there are people in this city who will choose a proven, fantastic Alder over someone who promises to learn what people want after she is elected. 

My chequebook is ready.  My feet are rested.  Game on.

posted by: Brian V on September 11, 2013  4:42pm

Congratulations to Mr Hausladen and Stratton!
Keep up the good work I hope you breeze thru the general!

posted by: HewNaven on September 11, 2013  5:14pm

both candidates said they had not decided if they would stay on the campaign trail into November. They are supporters of Democratic mayoral candidate Toni Harp, who has criticized the idea of candidates running “sore loser” independent campaigns after losing primaries.

This should be interesting. Let’s see if the Harp cabal has a double standard for aldermanic bids, and to what lengths they will go to justify it. Can’t wait!

posted by: EastRockIndependent on September 11, 2013  5:16pm

I’m bothered by the hypocrisy so many seem to have in these comment threads. People blast Toni Harp for out-of-town donations - but a majority of Doug’s donations came from out of town donors. I actually don’t care about that - but I find it totally hypocritical that folks cheer on Doug’s independence and bona fides while blasting Toni Harp for doing the same thing he does.

Same thing with continuing to the general election—if you think it’s okay for Justin to continue to the general with 25%, why’s an aldermanic race any different? 102 votes separated Wood and Hausladen, that’s far fewer people than who live in a single building such as 360 State, or 100 York, 44 Orange, etc.

I don’t mean to attack everyone - some people here like @HhE have rightfully said that if they want to run so be it and let the debate proceed - and I couldn’t agree more.

At the end of the day, I think the law is the law is the law. Right now state law allows these do-over elections—you may not think they’re right, but they’re legal and everyone knows well ahead of time that these are the rules of the game. If Wood or Gardner or Elicker or anyone else registered for the general choose to continue, then so be it.

Commenters on the NHI continually asserted for the past two years that the current Board of Aldermen closed off public debate and shut down discussions of issues before it. Yet many of those same commenters then insist losing (female) primary candidates accept their defeats and sit back down and shut up, while their favored (man) Elicker takes his 25% and keeps going.

I sincerely hope Wood, at least, doesn’t get pushed back by this hypocrisy. Let the general election begin! I look forward to all the debates to come between the general election contenders - including Harp v. Elicker. Frankly, I want to be in the front row at that one.

posted by: TheMadcap on September 11, 2013  5:16pm

Mr. Stratton’s words should not apply equally because they shouldn’t apply period. If Miss Wood and Gardner want to run again because they think they might be able to draw in more independents and win, I say good, let them. It stops the democratic primary, an election where only around 16% of city wide voters vote in, from being the only election that matters in the city.

posted by: BenBerkowitz on September 11, 2013  5:29pm

I would be interested in hearing your proposal and writing on it as I believe it provides an interesting avenue for citizens.
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

posted by: Elm City Lifer on September 11, 2013  5:42pm

Jonathan, Anon and others

Lets go through this again.

Mr. Statton said he hopes Gardner chooses not to run in November: We’re all Democrats. We should abide by the party decision.

In Connecticut the the “party decision” is the person that gets the most votes in the primary. If it was meant to be that you had to secure 50 percent plus 1 to be the democratic nominee than there would be a forced run off with less but thats not the case. Harp is the party decision whether you folks like it or not.

This isnt about Elicker running as an Independent this is about Stratton and Stratton’s actions being reflective of his statements. By not supporting and voting for Harp he might be perceived as someone who says things that are convenient for the time being for his own advantage but then does a 180 when it suits him. We know he would never do that.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on September 11, 2013  5:44pm

Stratton attributed his success in part to the support of incumbent Alderwoman Edwards (at left in photo above). He said he and she would walk the neighborhood, knocking on doors. “We were up against 25 to 30 people a night” campaigning for Gardner, Stratton said.

His success is the money he put up to run or this seat

Stratton said he hopes Gardner chooses not to run in November: “We’re all Democrats. We should abide by the party decision. It would be a waste of a lot of human effort and time to go through this again.”

Another one percenter said the same thing.His Name is Mayor Bloomberg of New York.And you all know king bloombergs record.Also a lot of us are not Democrats.In fact the people need to ask why is there a two-party stranglehold on our political system that rigged the system that keeps out third party candidates and then all the people have to vote for is Democrats and Republicans.

my bad How come Democrats and Republicans are against the system of proportional Representation and Term Limits.

posted by: Atticus Shrugged on September 11, 2013  5:46pm

I have no desire for Ms. Wood or Ms. Gardner to run in the primary.  I think it’s a waste for the same reasons its a waste for Mr. Elicker to run.  My point is that your arguments in favor of his running and their conceding are specious at best.  They fall apart when layered and are just an excuse for you to attempt to get the desired result you want.

I merely ask that you all admit as much and stop acting like you’re taking the high road.

posted by: Albatross on September 11, 2013  6:25pm


Are the Aldermanic financial disclosures posted anywhere?  The City’s website has only the mayoral candidates.

posted by: TheMadcap on September 11, 2013  6:52pm

“They fall apart when layered and are just an excuse for you to attempt to get the desired result you want.”

It’s like, just maybe, that’s the entire point of politics. There is no problem with the argument that you think if someone loses the primary they should be allowed to run as an independent unless the purity of the party as an institution is more important to you than actually trying to gain support for your ideas and win an election.

posted by: robn on September 11, 2013  7:13pm

I actually don’t have a problem with Ms Wood running a second time. My problem is with her running the first time. She’s a last minute plant by a minority business interest trying to consolidate a majority of power to forwArd its own financial self interest. This is textbook fascism.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on September 11, 2013  10:30pm

One way to view the mayoral vote was that 50% of voters are pro-Harp and 50% are anti-Harp (Fernandez and Carolina ran flat-out anti-Harp campaigns), with the anti-Harp vote being split between 3 people. 2 of those 3 are now out of the race, making it logical for the 2nd place finisher to continue towards the general election.

In the aldermanic races, there were only two candidates - no split vote, just a clear winner and a clear loser. The losers are free to run again in the General election, but I don’t see the point since there are no presumed votes gained from other candidates dropping out like in the mayoral elections. If there had been 4 candidates in an aldermanic race and two dropped out, then it would make sense for the runner up to continue towards the general.

No hypocrisy here.

posted by: HhE on September 11, 2013  11:49pm

The new Haven Independent seams to take a previse joy at taking Mike Stratton’s money, dismissing the $45k a year as a minor contribution, and then kicking him in the teeth by miss quoting him. 

I cannot blame Mike for not wanting to do this all over again right away.  Never mind the $10k, what were is opportunity costs?  His rate must be over $300 per hour, but let us assume it is as a base.  If he put 20 hours a week over five weeks, again just a guess, then his cost was $30,000.

posted by: unionsteward35 on September 12, 2013  7:27am

Hey 8 out 10 isnt bad..we ball so hard like we crazy.. ALL WE DO IS WIN!!