NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — When New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker took the oath of office New Year’s Day the last thing on his mind was that he would be guiding the Elm City through a global pandemic.
These first few months have been a crash course in crisis management.
“New Haven has made me proud to be the mayor at this time,” he said.
One hundred days ago the focus was on fixing finances, improving quality of life and creating opportunity for everyone. Then, a pandemic hit.
“Choices we make and have made can literally be the difference between life and death.”
He said being proactive closing schools and limiting crowds has paid off, but it hasn’t been easy.
Mayor Elicker asked Yale University to help house first responders if they contracted COVID-19.
The university said no. Instead, offering more than $1million in community aid.
Mayor Elicker was very critical of Yale, saying during this difficult time everyone has to do their part and writing a check doesn’t exempt you from that.
“I felt that Yale’s response was inadequate because at the end of the day what’s important is that we work together.”
Elicker has since made a mends with the university president.
The 43-year-old father of two has had his critics as well.
Board of Education member Darnell Goldson said the mayor gets an “F” for transparency and ethics — specifically over his decision to use a New Haven school as a shelter.
“This emergency has given folks an opportunity to flout the rules and it is concerning to me,” Goldson said.
Mayor Elicker pushes back saying, “being open about what we are doing, being transparent is something important to me.”
The mayor’s recommended city budget, which includes more money for schools and a tax increase, is awaiting a vote by the Board of Alders.
For now he’s protecting his people.
“Making sure that we get through this time. Then, we can turn the page and think about and consider how we are going to reopen.”