You can feel autumn coming as you walk down the streets of New Haven. The crispness of the cool breeze. The slow descent of the first dying leaves.
Mayor Toni Harp standing in front of a vacant lot having a not-really-a-groundbreaking at Definitely Coming Someday Q House.
Oh yes, it is Primary Season.
“But Josh, wasn’t there a groundbreaking nearly two years ago?”
Yes, there was. But now Toni Harp needs to win re-election so we’re having a kind of fun, pretend second groundbreaking! Politics!
This year, we’re having the exact same choice as four years ago, but now it’s different cause Toni Harp has already been Mayor and boy has that been… something.
Not sure who to vote for? Great. Me either. In fact, there’s only one thing I’m absolutely sure of: Whoever we choose, it’s probably going to be the wrong choice.
Tonight is the “Great Debate” at co-op high school if you want to leave the house. The Indy will be streaming it on Facebook Live so.. no need to put pants on folks.
Before I begin, I’d like to note neither Harp’s nor Elicker’s offices accepted invitations to come on the Between Two Rocks Podcast. Are they AFRAID? Or are they simply making a totally reasonable choice about not associating with public misanthropes? YOU DECIDE.
Let’s Go Negative
Both campaigns have really lowered the bar by going totally negative. Like the time Toni Harp got subpoanaed over a Youth Center that never got built and then drummed up a conspiracy theory about how Justin Elicker’s wife is an Assistant US Attorney and hey don’t they all work for Trump now?
She also claimed Elicker wants to use drones to spy on us. Cool. Very cool.
Meanwhile, Elicker is no Saint here, running plenty of negative ads. Blaming Harp for the 11% tax increase? Perhaps fair. Blaming Harp for 100 people passing out on the Green from K2? Oh also totally fair.
I am sure once Elicker is Mayor people will probably just stop doing drugs from all the hope coursing through their veins.
Harp has been more relentlessly negative, but it’s easy to take the high road when you don’t really have much of a record to attack.
Plus, Harp gets points for just creating the wackiest conspiracy theories.
How do I Get Information
When it comes to the issues, I figured let’s find out about the candidates directly from the candidates!
To begin with, Mayor Harp doesn’t have a campaign web page as far as I can tell, which is hilarious. She truly is your grandmother. If you Google “Toni Harp for Mayor” you get her Facebook page, which let’s face it is probably how she finds her Facebook page, too.
The fourth link is her Mayor page which I guess will have to be her campaign page as well. Oh cool. She’s done some things. Like for instance no tax increases in 2019! New streak!
Still, no platform as far as I can tell. Cool cool. I’m not really an issue-based voter anyway.
The site: https://mayor.newhavenct.gov/
Justin Elicker meanwhile has a pretty nice campaign page where he has pictures of him pretending to have earnest conversations with local folks like you or me about the issues that concern us. Like dirtbikers. It always has to be the dirtbikers, right?
He does want Yale to pay $50 million instead of $11 million which is pretty cool and definitely something Yale will consider strongly before saying no.
The site: https://www.justinelicker.com/
(Justine Licker?! Come onnnnnnnn.)
First, the Incumbent Mayor
Let me preface this by saying I voted for Harp in 2015 and 2017. I thought to myself, hell yeah we need more black women in charge. She’s smart, she’s capable, she has a deep understanding of the issues. Elicker is another elite white Yalie! Boo that guy!
Four years later I have no idea what to think. My taxes have gone up. City Hall finds itself in one comical lawsuit after the next. And even a subpoena!
On the flip side, there is this impassioned plea from a Union Carpenter celebrating Harp’s ability to help grow minority leadership in New Haven.
And you know who else was a carpenter? My buddy Eric’s Dad. Nice guy.
There have been a lot of grumblings about cronyism and protecting her people. There have been lawsuits from fired officials and talk of retaliation. Is it irresponsibile of me to spread baseless rumors?
I mean.. if they can do it, so can I, right.
Harp certainly seems to have “her” people. She protects them, regardless of how they’re doing. Loyalty can be great, but it can also be dangerous.
She is also endorsed by most of the local Unions, including UNITE HERE, which I personally have super mixed feelings about. Like it’s cool they look out for their workers, but now that they control the Board of Alders, it sure as hell seems like they’re a lot more concerned with sticking it to Yale than they are with whatever issues the rest of New Haven cares about.
Next, the Upstart Challenger
Justin Elicker is just what this city needs: A Yalie telling us what this city needs. He might as well be an article in the Yale Daily News.
His web page claims he’s against gentrification which is kind of hilarious because he looks like Human Gentrification.
OK enough roasting Justin.
His platform does check a lot of boxes, like for instance I absolutely think we should use drones to follow everyone. Especially whoever keeps stealing my porch furniture. A police state is a small price to pay to avoid replacing a $14 Ocean Job Lot plastic chair.
He does want to make Yale pay more and integrate their shuttle but again I don’t see Yale really caring what New Haven thinks. They can just… wait. They’re older than America. They can outlast any Mayor here.
A lot of his policies sound good but actually implementing them is a non-trivial task.
And the Endorsement Goes To…
I don’t know. I’ll probably vote for Justin. But I feel dirty doing it. And a part of me feels like it probably doesn’t matter because a lot of the city’s problems are entrenched long-term cultural and political issues.
Either way, just know that whatever you decide, you’re probably not nearly informed enough to make an intelligent choice so just go ahead and vote with your heart and know that it’s probably the wrong thing.
See at the polls next Tuesday!