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Posted to: Beaver Hills, Campaign, Campaign 2021, Housing, Politics
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Alder Jill Marks (above) tells Beaver Hills Democrats she’s not running for reelection Sunday, as Shafiq Abdussabur (below) pitches his candidacy for her seat.
Beaver Hills is getting a new alder, now that three-term incumbent Jill Marks has decided not to seek reelection.
Marks made that announcement — and received a standing ovation for her years of service — at a meeting Sunday of the Ward 28 Democratic committee.
That cleared that path for community organizer and retired cop Shafiq Abdussabur, the only candidate who has filed to seek the 28th Ward seat.
Marks’ announcement also cleared the way for the ward meeting, held in the community room of the Whalley police substation, to focus on addressing neighborhood concerns about rising crime and about the increasing dominance of multifamily housing by limited liability corporations (LLCs) controlled by local mega-landlords rather than by owner-occupants.
Two of the Democratic candidates for mayor, incumbent Justin Elicker and challenger Karen DuBois-Walton, also fielded questions on those issues at the meeting, where they made their final ward-committee pitches before this coming Tuesday’s citywide party convention. At the end of the meeting, the ward committee voted 10 – 5 (in combination in person and remotely) to endorse Elicker. Ward 1’s Democratic ward committee also voted Sunday to back Elicker, 5 – 0. That means Elicker has won all but four of the nonbinding advisory preference votes taken in wards across town. (The two candidates tied in one ward, and several did not conduct votes. See a list of results and background links at the the bottom of this story.)
Ward 28 Democratic committee member Bob Caplan and Chair Jess Corbett with in-person ballots. (Some members voted remotely)
In remarks to the dozen neighbors present, Marks promised to remain active in the community as she moves on from the alder seat to tackle new challenges.
“I love New Haven. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve done a lot. I’m a fighter. I’m an organizer,” she said.
In his remarks, Abdussabur promised to build on the work of Marks and other predecessors, including rallying neighbors to better maintain Goffe Street Park. Marks revitalized a Friends park group during her tenure. Abdussabur suggested claiming an empty storefront across Goffe Street to house a “stewards” group that would enlist adult volunteers and pay teens to provide much-needed TLC on the ground, with the help of foundation funding. He promised if elected to focus on “good sidewalks, good streets,” and transparency about how the city is spending the neighborhood’s tax dollars.
Committee members pressed all candidates present to address rising gun violence and car break-ins, as well as the trend of two and three-family homes formerly owned by occupants going into the hands of megalandlords operating under anonymous LLCs.
Bill Morico makes his case to Mayor Elicker.
Bill Morico spoke of how when he grew up in New Haven, families mostly owned and lived in those homes, renting out units to relatives or other families; and about how New Haveners, especially those of limited means, cannot compete with rent-raising LLCs for these properties when they now go on the market.
Abdussabur called for greater regulation of landlords by the city. Specifically, he called for the city not to renew landlord licenses to LLCs that have unpaid fines for code violations.
He also called for the city to create a “rent-to-homeowner program” aimed at helping local tenants buy properties. He said some of the federal Covid-relief CARES Act money coming to the city could help fund the program, along with existing dollars designed for that purpose under the federal Section 8 rental assistance program.
Meanwhile, he said he and a neighbor have created a housing working group in Beaver Hills to collect residents’ concerns and to create a list of locally operating LLCs. “We have to learn to work with them,” since their owners have the legal right to buy property, Abdussabur said.
Elicker said his administration has put together a “Natural Persons Ordinance” to require LLCs that buy property in town identify owners responsible for upkeep, “so they are no longer able to hide behind an LLC.” He spoke of work his City Livable Initiative (LCI) has done to buy properties and develop homes for resale to local owner-occupants, and also suggested using American Rescue Plan dollars to help promote homeownership.
Karen DuBois-Walton makes her case to the ward committee.
DuBois-Walton spoke of the “urgency” she feels to tackle the issue by building on work she oversaw in her 14 years as head of the city’s housing authority, during which time much of New Haven’s public-housing portfolio was rebuilt. She spoke as well about having the city help renters become first-time homebuyers.
On crime, Abdussabur said walking beats need to be assigned at the right hours — like Friday night and Saturday. He called for neighbors to band together to address problem locations like a liquor store across Whalley Avenue. “If we can’t get this liquor store under control, we gotta shut it down,” he declared. (Click here to read about a 10-point stop-the-violence plan he issued last month.)
Elicker said the police have increased walking and bicycle beats and revived a shootings task force in response to the rise in violence afflicting New Haven and cities across the nation. He said his administration has approved plans to expand the numbers of cameras and Shotspotter locations in areas like Fair Haven, “Exit 8” (Quinnipiac Meadows/Bishop Woods), and West Rock. DuBois-Walton said the police department needs new leadership and better recruiting of officers, as well as a return to the community-policing approach that succeeded in the 1990s through the first two decades of this century. Both she and Elicker spoke of freeing up cops to tackle their jobs by offloading calls better handled by social workers or mediators or substance-abuse workers: she’d do so through an Office of Neighborhood Safety, which would also have civilian staffers handle car-crash reports; he’d do so through a crisis response team, for which a pilot is expected to begin in town later this year.
DuBois-Walton and Elicker outside the building before the meeting.
Following are Democratic ward committee mayoral-preference votes to date (with numerical results where available), with links to stories.
Ward 1: Elicker 5 – 0
Ward 2: Elicker (unanimous)
Ward 4: Elicker near-unanimously (no official final vote tabulation)
Ward 6: Elicker 20 – 2
Ward 7: Elicker, 14 – 5
Ward 8: Elicker, 16 – 4
Ward 9: Elicker, 7 – 0
Ward 10: Elicker, 14 – 0
Ward 11: 7 – 7 tie
Ward 13: Elicker 14 – 2
Ward 14: Elicker, 15 – 11
Ward 15: Elicker, 11 – 0
Ward 17: Elicker
Ward 18: Elicker, 20 – 4
Ward 19: Elicker 22 – 4
Ward 20: Elicker 13 – 10
Ward 21: Elicker, 12 – 10
Ward 22: DuBois-Walton, 8 – 3
Ward 23: DuBois-Walton, 11 – 7
Ward 25: Elicker, 31 – 12
Ward 26: Elicker, 26 – 12
Ward 27: Elicker, 7 – 0
Ward 28: Elicker, 10 – 5
Ward 29: DuBois-Walton, 17 – 7*
Ward 30: DuBois-Walton, 19 – 1
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Abdussabar calls for GREATER controls on landlords?!?!?! Landlords already can't evict or collect rent for past year and a half, thanks to the federal and state "leaders". What other controls do you want??!!
@Paul, I thought Ward 1 didn't vote at their committee meeting but would talk to their constituents to see who they wanted to support?
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