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Brennan Is Everything; Elicker’s Just Ken

Teddy Witt ’24 Lead Op/Ed Editor
If you live or spend a lot of time in New Haven, you’ve probably seen white and blue election signs go up in your neighbors’ yards — white for Liam Brennan, Hartford’s first inspector general, and blue for the incumbent Mayor Justin Elicker.
If you live or spend a lot of time in New Haven, you’ve probably seen white and blue election signs go up in your neighbors’ yards — white for Liam Brennan, Hartford’s first inspector general, and blue for the incumbent Mayor Justin Elicker. The two candidates are vying for the Democratic nomination in this year’s mayoral primary, which is on September 12. Elicker is a former city Alderman who beat then-incumbent Toni Harp in the 2019 election. Brennan is a former attorney with a track record of prosecuting white collar crime and corruption, later working for nonprofits focused on affordable housing and veterans’ issues in the New Haven area. He wants to reform New Haven’s zoning, its housing, public safety, schools, bureaucracy, electric grid, infrastructure, and development. In short, Brennan is the progressive alternative to Mayor Elicker. That’s exactly what New Haven needs.

Brennan describes himself as a “pragmatic pro- gressive,” a recurring phrase in the series of briefs posted on his website laying out his stances on major issues. This pragmatism broadly contributes to a number of his policy positions. His plan to loosen zoning laws, allowing for more infill and mixed-use housing — housing built in currently vacant lots and housing blended in with commercial, industrial, or recreational spaces — isn’t a sexy progressive legislative goal, but it would decrease New Haven’s carbon emissions and provide desperately needed affordable housing. Likewise, Brennan doesn’t plan to raise city revenue by dramatically demanding more money from Yale, like Elicker promised to do in his 2019 run, but by correctly assessing undervalued commercial properties downtown (the New Haven Independent found a $166 million difference between market price and appraisal) and forcing developers and big landlords to pay their share of property
taxes. Ultimately, Brennan mixes his progressivism with grounded, practical thinking about how to get things done.

To be clear, some of Brennan’s policy proposals are more dramatic. He wants to decriminalize drug possession in New Haven, stop making arrests for illegal gun possession, and greatly reduce the number of traffic stops — a practice in which racial profiling iscommonplace. In the place of drug arrests, Brennan plans to “shift resources towards prevention [of drug abuse], treatment, and harm reduction” and “treat addiction as the public health issue that it is, and concentrate our  resources on what works.” Even within these flashier policy proposals, you can see the pragmatist at work: Brennan believes in decriminalization because the data and his experiences as prosecutor have convinced him that it’s simply more effective. While I’m less sympathetic towards his plan to stop gun arrests — drug possession is for the most part a victimless crime; illegal gun possession can lead to crimes with plenty of victims — he does have a detailed proposal in place of arrests. Brennan plans to implement policies with a successful track record throughout the country, and to create a new position in the police force in charge of finding and seizing illegal guns in New Haven. In all, Brennan’s preferred policies would mean a sudden departure from Elickerera policing, and would mean wading into the hotly contested world of progressive prosecution. Nevertheless, I think Brennan’s qualifications in the legal system make him an ideal mayoral candidate to make that jump and take on the persistent issue of crime in New Haven.

The other day, I ran into a couple of Elicker cam- paign volunteers in Westville canvassing and passing out flyers. When I asked them about why they personally sup- ported Elicker, one emphasized that he’s “doing a good job.” While his campaign boasts of the creation of new housing units, slightly increasing the city’s education bud- get, and wringing $10 million out of Yale, the fact is that his campaign so far rests on that vague presumption that he’s “doing a good job.” At a recent UNITE HERE event in Scantlebury Park on Dixwell Ave., Elicker received praise from much of the city’s Democratic establishment for “working together” with the Board of Alders, before launching into his own speech in which he emphasized his “experience” and ability to “[get] things done.” But, per the New Haven Independent, he spoke very little about his own policy plans — and, unlike Brennan, he has no future plans posted on his campaign website. Elicker’s campaign
then comes down to his record of “getting stuff done” — but that record is more spotty than he’d like you to believe.

In his 2019 run for mayor, Elicker demanded that Yale increase its payments to the city by almost $40 million per year — yet, by Elicker’s own admission, Yale’s PILOT payments have only gone up $10 million since he reached office. As Brennan pointed out in a recent press conference in Newhallville, the bike path originally supposed to reach from Hopkins’ very own Forest Road to Park Street downtown has taken nearly a decade to finish. While Elicker responded to the claim by blaming supply- chain shortages and accusing Brennan of being unrealistic, surely a mayor should be able to push through one lane of white paint with or without supply-chain disruptions.

Brennan is running on the issues and on policy; Elicker is not. Brennan has a clear, articulated vision for the future of the city; Elicker has not publicly expressed one since he became mayor. Fundamentally, the people of New Haven deserve a leader who cares about giving them solutions to the city’s issues — not one who gives them vague platitudes about continuity and “working together.” Liam Brennan is the best choice for the Democratic nomination for mayor.
Editor in Chief 
Asher Joseph

Managing Editor 
Margaret Russell

Claire Billings
Jo Reymond
Rose Porosoff
Eric Roberts
Abby Rakotomavo
Elona Spiewak
Veena Scholand
Miriam Levin
Liliana Dumas
Saisha Ghai
Olivia Yu
Anya Mahajan
Rain Zeng
Winter Szarabajka
Aerin O'Brien

Karun Srihari
Samantha Bernstein
Hana Beauregard
Micah Betts
Elaina Paktuka
Edel Lee
Anjali van Bladel
Nate Gerber
Rebecca Li

Hailey Willey
Web Editors
Amelia Hudonogov-Foster
Anvi Pathak
Chloe Wang

Faculty Advisers
Stephen May
Elizabeth Gleason
Shanti Madison
The Razor's Edge reflects the opinion of 4/5 of the editorial board and will not be signed. The Razor welcomes letters to the editor but reserves the right to decide which letters to publish, and to edit letters for space reasons. Unsigned letters will not be published, but names may be withheld on request. Letters are subject to the same libel laws as articles. The views expressed in letters are not necessarily those of the editorial board.
The Razor,
 an open forum publication, is published monthly during the school year by students of: 
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