Inclusion, cooperation and teamwork—those were the themes of New Haven Mayor Toni Harp’s historic first term. Saturday she rallied some core supporters at the Elks Club in the city as she readies for any official announcement that she is seeking a second term. The group of about 30 influential city leaders responded that such a successful first term means they are ready to help again.
I was the communications director for Harp’s first mayoral campaign in 2013. (And held the same position for the state Senate Democrats for years when she was chair of the powerful Appropriations Committee in Hartford.) Harp is the type of leader I admire and respect so I will be back on her team for her reelection campaign this year.
Harp addressed the gathering and used the rash of snow storms that greeted her when she began her first term as a metaphor for her governing style. “[W]e were immediately smacked by snowstorms of historic proportions. The first day of this administration was a snow storm and we had to hit the ground…shoveling!
“We had a tough winter, no doubt…Together, got through it, we shoveled our way out and we got to spring. And over the year we continued our teamwork…That’s how we’ve approached the city’s problems. By all accounts, we’ve made great strides. But it’s no time to rest on our laurels. During this term we’ve brought a new type a new kind of leadership to City Hall, one built on real inclusion and collaboration. Crime is down, school attendance is up, more youth are in afterschool programs,” she said.
“It is safe to say we can be optimistic about the direction our city is going. Our Comp-Stat became Youth-Stat: canvassing teams of teachers, firefighters, police, and community volunteers to contact the most at-risk youth in our school system. We saw the results in higher attendance, fewer suspensions and dropouts, less violence in the community, and more kids graduating. The program has been so successful that President Obama praised us in a national address, explaining ‘That’s what mayors do. They get things done, they make things happen.’”
Harp’s intention to seek another term has been known for a few weeks now but the official announcement comes May 16th from 1 – 3 p.m. at Edgewood Park. US Rep. Rosa Delauro will endorse and introduce the mayor. It will be a party with food, music, t-shirts and general fun. Everyone is invited.