Nov 6, 2013
05:30 AM
Connecticut Today

Toni Harp Winner in New Haven Mayoral Race

Toni Harp Winner in New Haven Mayoral Race

Mara Lavitt

Toni Nathaniel Harp will be New Haven’s first female mayor having beat Justin Elicker in a tough race that pitted the Democratic leadership against new voices looking to influence the direction of the city after 20 years under John DeStefano Jr.

Harp, a state senator for more than two decades, won Tuesday by a margin of less than 6 percent after labor, her longtime constituents in the 10th senatorial district and the Democratic machine coalesced to get voters to the polls across the city.

Elicker, 38, a relative newbie in New Haven, got 46.9 percent of the machine vote to Harp’s 52.5 percent, in an early tally.

This was extremely high for someone who was running against the entire New Haven Democratic Party hierarchy from the local level to state Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, Gov. Dannel P, Malloy, Connecticut U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3.

An upset by Elicker would have been the first since Frank Logue defeated incumbent Mayor Bart Guida in 1975 in a liberal reform movement within the party that lasted for two terms.

Harp, 66, will be the second black leader and the second state senator to trade policy making at the Capitol in Hartford for a shorter ride to City Hall on Church Street, where demands will be more immediate—ranging from the mundane to serious fiscal decisions—and where the tenor will be harsher than the collegial deference in the state legislature.

The jubilant winner hit the crescendo note of her “Girl On Fire” campaign for mayor with a rally at Kelly’s Restaurant & Bar downtown.

Keeping a theme she had adopted in recent weeks, Harp told supporters the sound they heard Tuesday was “glass ceiling” shattering.

“Success is when cooperation meets opportunity. That is what we have right now in front of us,” Harp said, after Gov. Dannel P. Malloy introduced her to the crowd.

“This is a starting point. A beginning. A chance to arise anew,” she said.

Harp said Elicker had called to congratulate her on her victory. “He is a young man of ideas and substance and he has a great future ahead of him,” she said.

Elicker told his supporters that he would continue to work for a better city.

“This campaign is about what’s best for New Haven and I will be reaching out to people involved in the Harp campaign to see how we can move this city forward and I expect everyone in this room to do the same thing,” Elicker said.

He told his supporters that he didn’t regret continuing the race after coming in second in the September Democratic primary. He said he knew he faced an “uphill battle” from the beginning.

“I’m so proud to be a part of this campaign because I’m proud to be standing side by side with so many people that believed in the ideas that we were talking about that believed in a government that was based on actual policy,” Elicker said.

Elicker said it is “premature” for him to discuss future political aspirations but he could see himself collaborating with Harp to move the city forward.

Harp gave a shout-out to DeStefano. “He did the best that he knew how to do on behalf of the city of New Haven and we should all be grateful for that,” Harp said.

Destefano said in a statement he was “excited by the promise of new leadership that Toni Harp will bring to the City of New Haven. As the current Mayor of New Haven, and as a lifelong New Haven resident, I look forward to the new administration’s commitment to serve the hopes and dreams of the people of our wonderful city. I will be glad to assist in any way I can.”

For more, visit New Haven Register online.

 

Toni Harp Winner in New Haven Mayoral Race

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