Justin Elicker and Toni Harp

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.

Toni Harp
“Hey everyone just a reminder that this is definitely still happening”
Photo courtesy New Haven Independent

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.

Great Mayoral Debate 2019
Courtesy the New Haven Independent and the highest Sharpness settings available in Photoshop

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.

Elicker Negative Ad
Image courtesy the New Haven Independent

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.

Is Justin Elicker from Area 51? It’s possible!

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.

Grandma Meme

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.

Carpenter Union Pic
Carpenter Union Pic

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.

The Office Karen Shrug

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.

Plastic Chairs
You were gone too soon, brothers.

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!




  1. Ya know, I was just describing New Haven to a friend the other day, and it was like “I mean, we’ve been doing it the wrong way for 300 years, why change now?”

  2. Did you notice that Justin is not taking money from developers and PACs, but raising small donations from people and getting matching funds from the Democracy Fund? That wasn’t worth commenting on?
    When he wins, he will owe NO ON ANYTHING! There are no contracts or jobs promised. He can pick people for their abilities rather than there donations.
    So why didn’t that make your radar?
    Still focused on that plastic chair?

  3. There’s been far too many people hooked into New Haven’s Matrix like system, depending upon it for their survival. I suspect many hated the political machine, yet if it were to vanish there’d be chaos. So they had no choice but to defend it. Harp was an undynamic functionary, who in my opinion was only mayor because it was her “turn”.

    When I heard the news Harp had lost, I was shocked. As someone said, New Haven has been getting it wrong for so long, why get it right now? Even though I truly deplore the city at times, paraphrase the words of Admiral General Aladeen, after the election New Haven seems a little less shit.

  4. I have been mentoring uni students and youth from marginalized communities in new haven for several years. This journey has taken me into the “weeds” of our community and has given me the opportunity to work with the worst and the best. From my experience my main critique comes in the form of corruption and greed by people who take advantage of the general incompetence of 501 [3] [c] corporations to police their grants/donations by “respected board members”. I resigned from one such charity because after I discovered there were unaccounted funds of nearly $750K and the CEO and/or board would not make an attempt to recover those grant funds. This cancer spreads because people with criminal intent know someone they can bribe or intimidate to erase the fraud. This has been a chain reaction in the New Haven community for many years and sets the example for continuance. I am surprised that Mr. Elicker did not make more of the “elephant in the room”.

  5. It is about time that not only New Haven but the country developed a workable program to mentor a number of segments in our community that produces accountable and results driven results that will benefit the family and the community. I have concerns that charities receive grants but show no verifiable results for the use of those grants. It is like a “black hole” were funds go in, yet we still have the same poverty, jobless, hopelessness without a possible future because of the dependence on community assistance. Decision makers in our community I believe, think it is easy to throw money at the marginalized and think they have done their duty. To be accountable minus corruption will bring New Haven into the next century.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.