When New Haven Mayor John DeStefano announced he’d be stepping down after this term, political analysts predicted this would be a race to watch and so far it has been.
In fact, one of the busiest places in the city has been the city clerk’s office, with new people from various parts of New Haven constantly coming in and filling their paperwork to run. The latest person to join the race did so just hours ago.
Kermit Carolina, principal of the city’s Hillhouse High School, is the latest candidate to seek the office. His grassroots supporters have stuck by him, even during a grade tampering scandal at the school. Carolina believes he understands the core of New Haven better than any other candidate.
“I grew up in poverty here in the city,” Carolina said. “I’ve never left. I own a home here in New Haven and I’m raising two children that are currently in the New Haven public school system. So I have a vested interest. I have skin in the game.”
Carolina has entered a crowded field of contenders which has turned political allies into opponents. Just yesterday, longtime political heavyweight State Sen. Toni Harp became an official candidate. Harp is known to fight for causes related to children including changes to the juvenile justice system. She’s now battling a longtime political partner – State Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield. He too is running for mayor. Holder-Winfield led the fight to end the death penalty in Connecticut.
“I’m happy that Connecticut can move forward in abolishing the death penalty,” he said.
City alderman Justin Elicker, the very first man to throw his hat into the ring, spent the last four years on the Board of Aldermen working on issues including illegal dirt bike and all-terrain vehicle riders. He hopes voters will cast their ballot in his favor.
“As I go door to door around the city I keep hearing from residents that they feel like they haven’t been heard, that their issues aren’t addressed and I want to be a mayor that is accessible to the people,” he said.
Those are just four of the candidates. Several other people have entered the race, including Henry Fernandez, the former economic development chief for the city. The field will get narrower after the Democratic primary in September.