In New Haven Politics, Narrative, Money is Everything

I voted this week in the New Haven Democratic Primary. For the first time in approximately one billion years, someone not named John DeStefano is going to be the Mayor of New Haven.

And I get to pick them. Sort of.

I think I picked the right guy or gal. Maybe. I honestly have no fucking idea.

Anthony Weiner

Now there’s a face you can trust!

This isn’t a national election. When you vote for President, you know what you’re getting. If President Obama smoked a giant spliff, I’d know about it. If Mitt Romney went on a family vacation with a dog strapped to his roof, I’d know about it. If either one of them took a dump and didn’t flush, I’d know about it and goddamnit that’s not okay.

But New Haven Mayoral Candidates? The truth is whatever somebody with the most money says it is. Maybe.

Toni Harp? Why, everybody knows she’s an experienced candidate who has served Connecticut fordecades. Or a slum lord.

Justin Elicker? He’s new blood, ready to shake things up and really challenge the status quo. Or a green rookie with no experience.

Henry Fernandez? A balanced, experience candidate with a pragmatic view of New Haven. Or a corrupt politician who took out of town money.

Kermit Carolina? The best education candidate who lives and breathes New Haven. Or a totally inexperienced manager who stands no chance at all.

The truth? Why, it’s whatever you think it is. Or whatever the push pollers say.

Get your hands off my speed limit

Local politics matter. Sure, President matters, too, but the President doesn’t decide the speed limits on your street. He doesn’t set the mill rate or decide which lots get economic development. He doesn’t address crime in your neighborhood or set regulations for local restaurants.

Emperor Obama

… or does he? (No, he doesn’t.)

Yet unlike national elections, local politicians don’t get the same amount of coverage. Oh sure, the New Haven Independent and the New Haven Register cover the election. Heck, even the Hartford Courant, which can barely be bothered to notice the entire southern part of the state, covered it.

The hyper-local Independent actually did a excellent four-part series on the candidates. And the Register endorsed Fernandez in an editorial.

Yet I can’t help but wonder… with only two very local sources for news, how unbiased is the information we’re getting?

More and more as I followed the Independent’s coverage, I couldn’t help but feel they were quietly pulling for Elicker. The other candidates seemed to reap harder, more critical coverage. Elicker seemed to coast by a bit more liberally.

Or maybe it’s all in my imagination because I wasn’t sold on him.

Meanwhile, a week before the election, people were asking me who I’m voting for. Most residents I know knew little of the candidates beyond what the advertisements say. And if you could trust advertising, you’d probably already have that extra-long penis by now, wouldn’t you?

(Just kidding, but you’d totally be a real estate mogul if you just come to my free seminar, never mind why I’d share my 100% full proof plan to be rich with you.)

In the end, Toni Harp reigned supreme. With the war chest, the name recognition, the backings of the unions and the Democratic Establishment, she couldn’t be stopped. Maybe she¬†shouldn’t be stopped.

In the end, though, I couldn’t help but feel uninformed. Even after everything I’d read, I still felt like I only had half the picture. Maybe that’s all politics are: a bunch of hearsay coming from different voices and you just have to make up your own mind about who’s lying (everybody).

Who the fuck am I voting for, again?

Then again, Mayoral candidate information is plentiful in comparison to the Alderman contests. I mean, if I lived in Ward 7 I’d vote for Doug¬†cause I know he can throw a mean kickball, but I’m not entirely sure if that’s a good reason or not (it totally is, fuck off).

Kickball Cy Young

Pictured: My ideal Mayoral candidate

Or town clerk? Shit, there was a town clerk election? What, exactly, are the qualifications? Fast typing skills? Highly organized? Looks good in a bikini?

Well, obviously the last one. That’s always the dealbreaker with me and my town clerks.

So quit your bitching, what do you want, anyway?

Good question. I’m not entirely sure. I admired the Independent’s coverage of the election. I think they did a terrific job. The Register, while not great, at least made an effort.

The Courant couldn’t be bothered and I shouldn’t be surprised. They’ve been ignoring New Haven for years. Not sure if there’s still some sort of blood feud with Hartford/New Haven or what.

But I can’t help but feel like when it comes to local politics, surprisingly few people set the narrative for everybody. Whether it’s the Register/Independent’s editorial crew or the Unions or simply pure campaign spending, what we know about candidates in local elections comes from very, very few places.

And if someone like me, who went out of their way to read election coverage from multiple sources feels uninformed…

… what about everybody else?


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