NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — New Haven mayoral candidate Karen Dubois-Walton is coming out swinging on the campaign trail, calling out Mayor Justin Elicker for his response to the uptick in violence across the Elm City. She claims the Elicker Administration’s response has been inadequate.
Dubois-Walton brings 25 years of experience to the city from once serving as the city’s chief of staff to now serving as the city’s president of the Housing Authority.
She says the uptick in violence is concerning and says the buck stops with the mayor.
“It is heartbreaking, it’s terrifying and unacceptable,” she told News 8. “We know what to do and it takes strong leadership to do that.”
Dubois-Walton not sparing any punches, calling out Mayor Elicker for what she calls a slow response to the uptick in violence in the city.
“Last year, 20 homicides. This year we are on pace to surpass that number and the mayor released a plan about two weeks ago. He’s been late to this issue, and he’s been ineffective on this issue.”
Dubois-Walton spent Wednesday evening touting her new community violence prevention plan to neighbors in Newhallville, saying keeping the city safe is an effort that can’t wait.
She says if she is elected, she has a community-endorsed plan to reinvest more dollars into the police department.
“The mayor cut $2-million from the police budget and rather than use it to make investments in things that could stop crime in the city, he used it to fill a hole in the general fund budget,” she said.
Wednesday the mayor is firing back. He says Dubois-Walton’s criticisms are unproductive.
“It’s unfortunate that the other candidate is politicizing the bigger challenges that are facing the city right now.”
Striking back at Dubois-Walton’s record in New Haven he added, “I think we need to be straight about everyone’s record here. The other candidate that’s running in 2006, when she was chief of staff when mayor DeStefano was running for governor and was going all around the state, she was running the city and we were 24 homicides that year…I think we need to be honest about this challenge and come together and confront it as a group, rather than throwing stones and criticizing from the sidelines. That’s not productive and it’s not what our community needs right now.”
Elicker told News 8 his work to address violence in the city is ongoing and as mayor he remains committed.
“We’ve reinstated the shooting task force. We’ve increased Project Longevity and Project Safe Call-Ins. We’re working with our partners at the state level to make sure we’re engaging with the re-entry population.”
But Dubois-Walton says that’s not enough.
“I criticize the slowness of the response, the lack of response, and the ineffectiveness of the response of this administration.”
Mayor Elicker says a $2-million investment is going straight to violence prevention efforts this summer that would include an increase in street outreach workers in New Haven.