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New Haven Mayor Harp talks time in office, contentious campaign against Elicker

News 8 Exclusive

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– As New Haven Mayor Toni Harp enters her final month in office, she is speaking out about her contentious campaign against Mayor-Elect Justin Elicker.

There was a fence between the city of New Haven and Hamden. A fence sealed off the Brookside neighborhood from Hamden forcing buses to travel for miles instead of going down Dixwell Avenue.

Mayor Toni Harp had the fence torn down and a bridge built. It’s one of the things she’s most proud of.

“It’s really about the segregation that we see in our urban areas,” said Harp.

The fence is also a symbol for Harp’s agenda as New Haven’s 3-term chief executive officer, breaking down disparities between a booming downtown and poverty-ridden neighborhoods

Watch: Mayor Toni Harp looks back on her time in office

She vowed to attack youth violence head on, launching after-school and summer programs city-wide, early interventions in schools for disengaged students.

“We’ve started to wrap services around them. Since we’ve done that, we haven’t lost one child,” said Harp.

Harp says she took community policing to another level and helped diversify the force. But as she prepares to hand over the keys to City Hall to former city alder Justin Elicker, she says her passion could have also been her downfall this election.

“I wanted to achieve certain kinds of things for communities of need in New Haven and I think that I focused a lot on those kinds of things and less on the politics and if I have one regret, that is a regret that I have,” said Harp.

Harp also has hiring regrets

“I think that I’ve learned a little something about selecting personnel that I might not have known initially,” said Harp.

Still, she takes pride in building up a $15 million rainy day fund the first in 15 years and she is firing back at Elicker’s claims during the campaign that took aim at her reputation.

“It was sort of drummed into people’s heads that this city was mismanaged. It was not. That my administration was corrupt – absolutely nonsense,” said Harp.

News 8 asked Harp if the city will be in good hands come January 1. Her answer: has nothing to do with the incoming mayor.

“Almost every single one of our department heads, and we have really good ones in our city, have two more years at least and so there will be stability throughout this transition,” said Harp.

Mayor Harp may be leaving City Hall but she says she still has work to do.

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