On Tuesday night, New Haven’s mayoral candidates took to the stage. In their first debate of the election season, they discussed affordable housing, crime, and education.
Inside the Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School, Democratic incumbent Mayor Justin Elicker and Republican challenger John Carlson made their case for why they deserve the support of voters.
“We’ve accomplished so much more around increasing state funding, getting some really important projects across the finish line whether it’s Tweed Airport, whether it’s Union Station, new Reentry Welcome Center,” said Elicker.
“I hope (voters) understand the importance of education, improving the lives of people in the city, keeping our streets safe, and I hope they understand the importance of voting November 2nd,” said Carlson.
In a city with a large majority of registered Democrats, it’s an uphill battle for Carlson. But the Republican touted how he was born and raised in the city and stressed his 22 years as an educator. Carlson says Board of Education members should be elected positions and that he’d cut from the top and put the money into classrooms.
Elicker says they’ve increased teacher to student ratio and offered extended afterschool programs.
During the debate, the candidates also discussed affordable housing in the city.
“I think it's key to addressing affordable housing in our city. We see a lot of development which is exciting. It helps our tax base. A lot of people moving into the city which is great, but we need to make sure development is equitable,” said Elicker.
“We need to lower the cost of living in the city. Housing is too high, taxes are too high so we have to bring the cost down,” said Carlson.
When it comes to crime, Elicker highlighted the increased walking beats and several programs and projects the city has implemented.
“We've taken over 160 guns off the streets since January 1st of this year. We are confronting this problem. We also need the community's help in doing so. People need to share information with us so we can track down and bring people to justice faster,” said Elicker.
Carlson says the police accountability bill passed by the state legislature had a role in increasing crime.
“That crime bill handcuffed cops instead of criminals, made their job harder to do,” said Carlson.
When asked about COVID-19 mandates, Carlson said while he believes masks and vaccines work, he thinks there shouldn’t be a mandate, it should be optional. Elicker says he has no problem implementing mandates when it comes to masking and vaccines.