Mayor Justin Elicker speaks at Yale Democrats Forum

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Mayor Elicker spoke about the successes and challenges of his first term in the Mayor’s office.



Lukas Flippo, senior photographer

Mayor Justin Elicker spoke at a Yale College Democrats meeting on Friday about his tenure as mayor, his successes, regrets and plans for the future.

After an unsuccessful mayoral bid in 2013, Elicker was elected in 2019, after defeating three-term holder Toni Harp. During his first term, Elicker had to deal with COVID-19, a budget crisis and racial and economic inequality.

This year, Elicker will run for re-election, facing “a serious Republican challenger,” according to his campaign fundraising email. Opponents of Elicker are Republican candidate John Carlos and independent Mayce Torres, a former Democratic and Republican candidate, who changed party affiliation after failing to gain traction in the Democratic and Republican primaries. Carlos is the first Republican to run for mayor since 2007. As he runs for a second term, Elicker discussed a number of issues that are of concern to voters at Friday’s forum, such as the long-standing budget woes of the city, the fight against the current pandemic and police brutality. .

“Those individuals and entities who have the power and the resources to do this need to be at the table,” Elicker said at the event. “New Haven cannot solve its problems on its own. … Average citizens pay much more as a percentage of their income to the city than to the university.

Yale President Peter Salovey previously expressed Yale’s interest in paying more money to New Haven, but stopped before offering a specific amount or timeframe. So far this year, Yale has contributed $ 13 million to New Haven’s budget, $ 1 million more than the year before.

Elicker said he and his team “spent a lot of time trying to find common ground, trying to build trust.” He added that he is “optimistic that when [Yale and City Hall] reach the finish line, Yale will increase its contribution to the city.

During his 2019 campaign, Elicker made New Haven’s financial woes and Yale’s role in it a centerpiece of his candidacy. He said he took office from an “incredible deficit [from the city’s] pension and debt service payments.

During his tenure, Elicker said his administration “worked very hard with [their] delegation of the state to change the way the state finances the city ”, in order to balance the budget. Ultimately, the state’s contribution to New Haven’s budget increased from $ 41 million to $ 90 million.

Elicker took office in 2020, just before the start of the pandemic. According to Elicker, unlike some cities, New Haven “accepts science overwhelmingly, follows guidelines, puts on masks [and relative to other cities, New Haven] it’s going well. During his tenure, Elicker implemented interior mask mandates and, starting Monday, September 27, a vaccine or test warrant for city employees will come into effect.

Addressing COVID-19, Elicker described that town hall was also forced to deal with income inequality. He said that at the start of the pandemic, residents could only get tested for COVID-19 in a car and touted the fact that New Haven was the first place in Connecticut where testing was available to pedestrians.

In a more vulnerable moment of the forum, Elicker spoke of his regrets. As of early 2021, the New Haven Police Department said that New Haven has seen an increase in violent crime.

“The violence in the city is heartbreaking,” Elicker said. “I can’t tell you how many funerals I attended. How many families I have called who have lost their children. How many homicide scenes I’ve been to. We’re doing everything we know how to do, and it doesn’t feel like it’s getting better.

According to Elicker, “one of the biggest mistakes” he made was during a Black Lives Matter protest last summer. In the summer of 2020, body camera images of New Haven Police Attack, Tackle Man Suspected Of Shoplifting At Walmart went viral. In response to a justification from the officers, a group of about 70 protesters chanted outside Elcker’s house.

Elicker said at the time he spoke to protesters outside his house, but came back inside because they shouted at him. At around 1:30 a.m., Elicker said he told police to tell them to leave. He told College Democrats he should have let the protesters continue their protest. He added that he believed that if he had screamed, the group would have had a constructive conversation with him. Elicker said it was a moment that marked him and has since trained to “hold on”.

“In the end, especially in a small town, we all know each other. We live close to each other. We will meet again. “

New Haven citizens will vote in municipal elections on November 2.

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