The YDN offers another piece on Tuesday’s Ward 22 co-chair race, emphasizing the historical singularity of Alyssa and Shaneen’s campaign and the potential they’ve ignited. It also quotes an absurd slur from their opponent, Mae Ola Riddick, who accuses Alyssa, who founded and led New Haven’s community lobby for domestic partnership, of not calling enough attention to her support for the domestic partnership ammendment – one which, incidentally Mae Ola voted for as Alderwoman and which her successful challenger, the Rev. Drew King, supported as well. Mae Ola’s attempt to paint herself as an ideological martyr and Alyssa as a political opportunist is as convincing as her argument that she doesn’t need to campaign because she has the name recognition with her former constituents. These are the same constituents, of course, who voted her down first at the Ward Nominating Committee, then in the primary, and finally in the general election.
This YDN piece sets forth the common – and accurate – wisdom that Tuesday’s election and September’s primary, in which the New Haven Democrats captured one seat each from the Greens and the Republicans, for a total of 28 out of 30 on the Board of Aldermen, and in which several critics of Mayor DeStefano were replaced with allies, represents a significant shift in the power on the board, and a consolidation of control behind DeStefano and his team. This has tremendous positive potential, as evidenced in DeStefano’s victory speech Tuesday night, in which he identified as his first two priorities domestic partnership and campaign finance reform – both areas in a which New Haven has the potential to pass progressive legislation matched by only perhaps a dozen other cities in the country. DeStefano’s shift to the left, however, has not happened in a vacuum – besides his growing commitment to running for Governor in 2006, DeStefano has been pushed by his critics from the left, including, as Paul Bass argued a couple weeks back, the Greens.
The one Green left on the Board, however – Joyce Chen – has gotten the most headlines of her term by vocally and visibly opposing domestic partnership. That stance, and her rhetoric in defending it, cost her the support of many of her constituents – myself and many progressive undergraduates included. The unions’ work in support of Joyce, who has a record of support for the social contract that labor and community movements have been pushing in this city, and the Democratic party’s work in support of Democrat Andre Nicole Baker, created an ugly scene between members of both camps at the polls, despite the co-operation of both in winning several wards for pro-labor progressive Democrats, among them Drew King in Ward 22, where most undergrads who aren’t in Ward 1 or 2 live. Drew beat Office of New Haven and State Affairs-supported incumbent Mae Ola Riddick’s write-in campaign, after having defeated her in the September primary and this summer at the Ward nominating committee.
Meanwhile, the YDN editorial board, which instituted an annual tradition of calling on Ward 28 Alderman Brian Jenkins to resign his post as leader of the Black and Latino Caucus after his minority address, is now worried that without him there’ll be fewer voices to keep DeStefano in check.