NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Justin Elicker filed enough signatures with the registrar to force a democratic primary with Mayor Toni Harp. Hours later, he and Harp each answered questions at a Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce candidate forum.
It did not take long for Elicker to bring up recent issues in the Harp administration.
“An FBI investigation into City Hall, misuse of funds and credit card use that’s been inappropriate,” Elicker said. “That oftentimes attracts a real negative image of New Haven.”
Mayor Harp quickly highlighted New Haven’s relatively low taxes.
“Aside from Stamford, every other major city in Connecticut has a higher mill rate than New Haven,” Harp said.
You can’t talk about New Haven finances without talking about Yale and the fact its status makes more than half the land in the city tax exempt.
“You can’t have a billion dollar neighbor in the middle of your town and not say, ‘Look, we need help,'” Harp said.
“What I have said is that I think Yale should do more and should give $50 million to the city,” said Elicker.
Right next to Yale, dozens of people overdosed on drugs in one day last summer. Elicker says we should change the way we deal with addicts.
“Historically, we’ve criminalized drug use, and now many more people are understanding that this is a health related issue.”
Mayor Harp sees that day as a victory for first responders.
“No one died on our green,” Harp said. “Why did no one die? Because we have an excellent emergency medical apparatus in our city. Second to none.”
Tweed airport is another major issue for the city. Mayor Harp wants longer runways to attract more airlines.
“I hope everybody understands, we’re just talking about within the foot print of the current airport, we want to pave the runway safety areas,” Harp said.
Elicker looks at last week’s flooding of Tweed’s terminal as more evidence the coastal airport may be a lost cause due to climate change.
“50 years out, Tweed is under water,” Elicker said. “I have not seen that question addressed, and if we’re investing an incredible amount of money in the airport, we need to make sure it’s going to be around in 50 years.”
If Elicker does not win the democratic primary in September, he has filed the paperwork to run as an independent in the general election in November. At least two other candidates have also filed to run as independents.
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