New Haven's Answers
(11/17/2009) From November 16, 2009 New Haven Register
Answers more likely to be found in city
By John DeStefano Jr.
NOW that M. Jodi Rell has announced her intention to not run for another term as governor, I hereby declare my candidacy — for mayor.
In 2006, I had the absolutely wonderful, life-changing experience of running as the Democratic Party’s candidate for governor. In an effort that stretched over two years, I met thousands of people, learned lifelong lessons, won a close Democratic primary and lost, in a not so close contest, the general election to Rell, a Republican.
I had the chance to talk about issues that were not only important to the state, but to New Haven. How do we grow jobs and a competitive work force? How can we build vibrant cities while preserving Connecticut’s rural character? How do Connecticut and New Haven remain a place where parents could feel their kids would have a chance to do better than they did?
All the issues we faced in 2006 not only remain, but are more urgent than ever. How can we preserve the dream that our kids will do better in a state with the worst record of job growth in the nation over the last 20 years?
I have been urged to run by many folks from across the state. So, why not run for governor again? Because I know that in 2010 and in the years ahead those questions are more likely going to be answered in New Haven, than in the Capitol.
Jobs and taxes are going to grow in those places that have a competitive advantage, places that are doing things that other places are unable to do.
Want to see the future? Then walk along New Haven’s Frontage Roads around Yale University’s School of Medicine, the Smilow Cancer Hospital, Pfizer, the biotech building at 300 George St., the just-constructed, privately owned buildings on Park and Howe streets.
Visit Science Park, and the dramatic expansion of Yale’s science programs around Prospect Street. Look to Covidien’s move of some 400 jobs to the Long Wharf Maritime center. Watch the planned construction of an expansion of the 300 George St. building in the Route 34 right of way in front of the Air Rights Garage. Across the way look to the new 400,000 square foot community college under construction on Church Street.
Connecticut does have an economic and jobs future and it is happening in New Haven. As our core economy grows, so will the service sector. Witness our vibrant downtown and the only high-rise in construction in Connecticut — 500 residential units and mixed commercial space in 32 stories at 360 State St.
And there’s more. New Haven has just launched the best economic development, wealth creation and anti-violence program in the nation. It is our school change program.
The school change initiative will end the achievement gap with the state average and cut the dropout rate in five years. It will provide the financial means and preparation so that every eligible graduating high school senior who gets good grades and follows the rules can get into and through a four-year college.
School change will place our kids at the center of our city, just as they are at the center of every successful family.
The New Haven Federation of Teachers joined the school change effort in overwhelming numbers in a contract it approved last month. This month, parents from all over the city came together to strategize and promote stronger parental involvement in their kids’ education. The business community is providing the financial support to pay for the work of the new teacher project in New Haven, the centerpiece of our effort to strengthen the city’s teacher corps.
We in New Haven have not been shy about our future. We have taken some tough stands as a community: on rights for all our residents, regardless of immigration status; on behalf of opportunity for all our residents in recognition of all the doors closed in the past. We’ve worked together with our neighbors to come to resolution of long-standing disagreements such as safety improvements at Tweed New Haven Regional Airport.
The future belongs to those willing to stand up and fight to make a difference. That is why I want to spend the coming years in New Haven. While I may not be running for governor, New Haven will still be a leader, by example, for the state.
John DeStefano Jr. is mayor of New Haven. Readers may write him at 165 Church St. New Haven, 06510. E-mail: MayorDestefano@newhavenct.net.
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