For Ward 1 Alder, No Endorsement
The Politic has decided to endorse neither Ugonna Eze ’16 nor Sarah Eidelson ’12 for the position of Ward 1 Alder.
Both candidates approach the position from different places: Eze, as a current student and philosophy major, wants to learn more about the city and employ the connections he has formed at Yale to address its issues. Eidelson, as a second-term alder and a labor progressive, wants to continue funding existing programs and build new ones with the relationships she has forged with the city’s leadership.
But neither candidate presented their case particularly effectively during the campaign season.
Eze focuses disproportionately on student-led groups to alleviate many of the social and economic crises that the city faces. For example, engaging the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Project (YHHAP), an on campus organization — along with reviving Project Fresh Start, a program aimed at reducing recidivism for former prison inmates — forms the cornerstone of his homelessness solutions. Eze wants to have conversations with all the stakeholders involved before forming his policy. He often admits that he lacks prior knowledge about certain issues and wants to explore every option before coming to any conclusion. While his humility is honest, we wish that he could better articulate his policy positions this far into the campaign.
Eidelson, meanwhile, makes little effort to justify her absence from campus. She defends her focus on New Haven and the wider community and declares that she spends less time at Yale because she spends so much time working for the greater New Haven area. She presented little concrete evidence that she would strengthen ties between Yale and New Haven, preferring instead to elaborate on the projects she and her colleagues had funded and built, such as the New Haven Youth Map, which shows the location of youth programs in New Haven. A focus on New Haven is not a problematic position in itself, but her unwillingness to address her disconnect from Yale does not make us enthusiastic that her actions will improve with another term.
The two candidates have important strengths as well. Eze promises to have a presence on campus, and given his involvement in a wide variety of campus organizations, people should have no reason to doubt him. He hopes to hold bimonthly town hall meetings for the Yale community in Dwight Hall and personally invite Yale students to Board of Alders meetings to get their perspective on city operations.
Eidelson, on the other hand, already possesses a thorough knowledge of city politics and has several achievements under her belt. She has important connections on the completely Democratic Board of Alders, and her positions as the Chair of the Youth Services Committee and Minority Leader set her up well to advocate for change in New Haven.
Whatever the case, it is difficult to ascertain, even on Election Day, that both candidates will do the job well. Eze demonstrated so much passion and potential at the beginning of his campaign, but was unable to translate this momentum into a strong candidacy. His inability to talk about education, homelessness, and security policies in depth during his interviews with The Politic worries us that he is not yet ready to assume office in New Haven. Eidelson, however, is an unsatisfying alternative. If she neglects her presence on campus and continues to amass accusations of opacity and absenteeism, then the relationship between Yale and New Haven may further deteriorate.