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    New Haven Democracy Fund

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    The New Haven Democracy Fund thanks its partners including NBC-30, the New Haven Independent, the New Haven Register, La Voz Latina and the Long Wharf Theater for helping to sponsor the New Haven Mayoral Primary Debate on Wednesday, August 28, 2013. The debate can be seen here

    The New Haven Democracy Fund, utilizing appropriations from the Board of Aldermen and citizens’ contributions, provides public matching funds and public financing grants to Mayoral candidates who voluntarily agree to abide by certain restrictions and limitations on how campaign funds are raised and spent.

    The Democracy Fund is a pilot program approved in 2007 by the State Elections Enforcement Commission of the State of Connecticut.  The State General Assembly had authorized the Commission to approve up to three pilot programs for public financing of municipal election.  The City of New Haven is the first and only municipality in the State to establish a public financing system for municipal elections.

    The purpose of the Democracy Fund is to ensure that all citizens of the City of New Haven have a fair and meaningful opportunity to participate in the election of their Mayor.  Specifically, the ordinance aims to counter the perception that New Haven’s public policy is influenced by campaign contributions; to ensure that meritorious Mayoral candidates are able to raise and spend sufficient funds through public financing of elections to convey their messages to the voters; to reduce the need for ongoing fundraising and to encourage Mayoral candidacies to spend more time communicating with citizens; and to give all citizens an opportunity for a reasonable supporting role in the selection of Mayor by making even small contributions meaningful.

    The Democracy Fund is overseen by a seven-member volunteer board.  A Democracy Fund Administrator is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Democracy Fund.  A Democracy Fund Investigator is responsible for investigating alleged violations of the Democracy Fund ordinance and complaints made against participating candidates. 

    A Mayoral candidate becomes a participating candidate by agreeing to abide by the contribution and expenditure limitations and ceilings established by the Democracy Fund ordinance. Contributions are limited to no more than $370.00 from individuals or a town committee. A participating candidate must not accept contributions from political committees or business entities. Qualified campaign expenditures are limited to no more than $368,000.00 in a primary election and $368,000.00 in a general election.

    The Democracy Fund provides public matching funds up to $125,000.00 and a public financing grant of $19,000.00 for both the primary elections and the general election. A candidate’s contribution of his or her own personal funds is limited to no more than $19,000.00 per primary or general election.

    In order to qualify for public matching funds for a primary election or a general election, a participating candidate must raise two hundred (200) contributions, from separate individuals who are electors (that is, registered voters) of the City of New Haven, of no less than $10.00 and no more than $370.00. Matching funds consist of $60.00 per distinct individual contributor of $30.00 or more; contributions under $30.00 are matched two-to-one.

    The Democracy Fund Board has the authority to levy fines for violation of the Democracy Fund Ordinance by participating candidates.

    The New Haven Democracy Fund has given out these amounts to candidates:

    2007 - Participating candidate John DeStefano's campaign received $11,850 in matching funds. DeStefano won re-election in 2007.
    2009 - Participating candidate John DeStefano's campaign received $11,390 in matching funds.
    DeStefano won re-election in 2009.
    2011 - Participating candidate Jeffrey Kerekes' campaign received $8,202 in matching funds and a $17,000 grant for the September primary, where he placed second to Mayor DeStefano.
    2011 - Participating candidate Tony Dawson’s 2011 campaign collected a $17,000 grant and $6,420 in matching funds. He placed fourth in the 2011 primary.
    2013 - The New Haven Democracy Fund has now contributed $111,250.00 to participating candidates competing in the 2013 New Haven Democratic Party primary election for mayor.

    Justin Elicker for Mayor has collected:
    $9,840 in matching funds April 5, 2013;
    $19,000 in the contested election grant Friday, April 19, 2013;
    $8,600 in matching funds Friday, April 26, 2013;
    $13,500 in matching funds Friday, August 23, 2013;
    $3,530 in matching funds Monday, September 9, 2013;
    $54,470 in total.

    Kermit Carolina for Mayor has collected:
    $ 5,530 in matching funds May 22, 2013;
    $19,000 in the contested election grant May 22, 2013;
    $ 1,020 in matching funds July 16, 2013;
    $ 5,060 in matching funds September 6, 2013;
    $30,610 in total.

    Participating candidate Gary Holder-Winfield, prior to withdrawing from the race, had collected:
    $7,170 in matching funds Friday, May 17, 2013,
    $19,000 contested election grant, Friday, May 17, 2013
    $26,170 in total.

    These three candidates combined have received the most the Fund has ever contributed to any single election in its history.

    Summary of Fund

    I. Eligibility for Matching Funds and $19,000 Public Financing Grant

    • Establish campaign committee, meet requirements to appear on ballot, and run in a contested election
    • At any time before the 60th day before an election, the Mayoral candidate must submit a signed Candidate Contract and Affidavit to the Democracy Fund Board:
    • Agreement to campaign contribution and expenditure limitations.
    • Raise the threshold of qualifying contributions: contributions of between $10 and $370 from 200 distinct New Haven registered voters
    • Not be in default to the city of New Haven
    • Agree to participate in at least one public forum per election
    • Limit use of personal funds to no more than $19,000

    III. Expenditure and Contribution Ceilings and Restrictions for Primary or General Election





    • Up to$370 from individual or party committee
    • No PAC
    • No “business entities”

    $60 per New Haven registered voter who gives $30 or more. Contributions less than $30 are matched two-to-one. Matching funds per candidate per election: $125,000.

    If a candidate not participating in matching funds program spends more than the expenditure ceiling of $368,000, then participating candidates who have reached 85% of the expenditure ceiling can either (1) have an additional $25,000 grant, or (2) have their expenditure ceiling lifted. A candidate who chooses to have his or her expenditure limit lifted may raise contributions in excess of $370 from individuals and party committees, but must continue not to accept contributions from political committees and business entities, and will receive no additional matching funds after spending $368,000.

    2017 Participating Candidates

    To Be Announced

    2013 Participating Candidates


    Joining the Board

    The Democracy Fund Board is made of seven members, no more than three of whom may be registered with the same political party. Board members are required to remain impartial during elections and may not volunteers, donate, or work for candidates during municipal elections.

    The Board is always looking for new members or alternants. If you are interested in joining the Democracy Fund Board please contact Patricia Lawlor at the City of New Haven or Board Chair, Jared Milfred.

    Check out the bylaws on our website to learn more about the board and it's responsibilities.

    Come to a Board Meeting!

    Board meetings are held the Third Wednesday of the month in Mayor's Conference Room 2 at City Hall (165 Church Street, New Haven, CT 06510) unless otherwise noticed by the Chair.

    Notice of meetings is given at least 48 hours in advance. Minutes are available on the Democracy Fund website.

    Members of the New Haven Democracy Fund Board can be found here.


    Meetings will be held on the Third Wednesday at 6pm on the 2nd Floor of CityHall of each month unless otherwise noticed. In the event of meetings lacking quorum, that meeting will be rescheduled or canceled.

    Minutes, Agendas & Documents From Previous Years

    Democracy Fund in the News

    Annual Reports

    Interim Campaign Reports

    The campaign reports filed by mayoral candidate committees participating in the New Haven Democracy Fund program are now available not only on paper at the clerk's office, but also online at the State Elections Enforcement Commission's electronic Campaign Report Information System (eCRIS) site. However, in each election the Democracy Fund program requires one more report than the state, which will be available only here. For the primary, the interim report covers the month of July; for the general election, the interim report covers the months of July and August.

    Primary 2013 Interim Reports

    Primary 2011 Interim Reports


    For further information, please contact the Democracy Fund Chair, Jared Milfred, at or jared.milfred@yale.edu or (503)-901-4859.

    Forms should be filed with the Administrator via email or by mail at 760 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT 06510. Administrator, Alyson C. Heimer, democracyfund@newhavenct.net, (203) 623-3027.



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