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Yalie v. Yalie in mayoral primary;
November rematch on tap

Alexei Navalny isn't the only Yalie running for mayor this week.

Navalny—not actually a Yale alum but a 2010 World Fellow—is going to court to challenge the results of his loss to the incumbent mayor of Moscow. A blistering critic of the Putin regime, Navalny may or may not escape his pre-election fate of prison on embezzlement charges. (Yes: an anticorruption blogger convicted of embezzlement. Ironic.)

Here in New Haven, where politics are lively but not quite such a threat to personal liberty, we also had a mayoral election this week. Four Democrats—three of them Yale alumni—vied for the party nomination to replace 20-year incumbent John DeStefano, who is stepping down at the end of the year.

The winner of the primary, with just under 50 percent of the vote total, is the party-endorsed candidate, Toni Nathaniel Harp ’78MEnvD. But she hasn't seen the last of the #2 finisher: Justin Elicker ’10MEM, ’10MBA, who took about 23 percent of the Democratic votes, will run as an independent in the November general election.

The other two primary contenders, Henry Fernandez ’94JD (almost 19 percent) and Kermit Carolina (8 percent), had also registered to run as independents in November, but they dropped out based on their showings last night.

Among Yalies on the Board of Aldermen, Doug Hausladen ’04 fended off a last-minute challenge from undergraduate Ella Wood ’15. Sarah Eidelson ’12, who represents much of the Yale campus, didn't face a Democratic opponent.

Harp and Elicker have similar positions on many of the issues in New Haven, but they are starkly different kinds of politicians.

Harp, who works in the social-service field, has represented part of New Haven in the state senate for two decades. She co-chairs the powerful Appropriations Committee, raised mayoral campaign money from Hartford associates and lobbyists as well as from New Haveners, and has the backing of Yale's unions, which since 2011 have become a dominant force in local politics.

Elicker, who has lived in New Haven for only six years—the last four as a member of the Board of Aldermen—is running as a clean-government candidate, participating in public campaign financing and raising the bulk of his money in small donations from many city residents. An environmental consultant, he has strong appeal among unaffiliated voters, who far outnumber New Haven Republicans and could play a major role in the general election.

The last Yale alum to serve as New Haven mayor was Frank Logue ’48, ’51JD, who left office in 1979. You have to go back at least another 40 years—maybe much longer—to find the last Yalie mayor before Logue.

And the last time two Yalies ran head-to-head in the general election? Your guess is as good as ours.

Filed under Toni Harp, Justin Elicker, Henry Fernandez, Alexei Navalny, Doug Hausladen, Ella Wood, Sarah Eidelson
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