Published 8:12 pm, Sunday, October 22, 2017
I love the City of New Haven and I believe in its potential. I also believe that fresh, strategic, action-oriented leadership is the best way to turn current challenges into future opportunities. However, I am not blind to the fact that public service is about more than leadership, vision and principles. Unfortunately, special interests, entrenched mutually beneficial relationships and money are far too often the strongest forces in our political system. I am suspending official campaign operations because I believe it will require more time than remains in this election cycle to overcome these strong forces. But that does not mean I am giving up on our vision of a more vibrant, resident-focused and ethical city.
My name will remain on the ballot on November 7th and residents will still have a choice in future leadership. I remain hopeful that New Haveners will vote for change and a new, positive direction for our city. I strongly believe I can chart the most promising course forward.
As I’ve stated throughout this campaign, competitive elections are healthy for democracy. Competition raises the bar for all by demanding accountability and engagement from current leadership and bringing new ideas to the forefront. I encourage voters to visit my website and learn about my ideas and plans. I am proud that my platform forced New Haven’s current mayor to address many serious issues, including shortages of affordable housing and services for the homeless population; economic stagnation throughout the city’s neighborhoods; high unemployment and overall absence of a diversified workforce development plan; tremendous untapped potential at Long Wharf; exclusion of young, new voices from political decision-making; lack of fiscal accountability and oversight in the form of perpetual overspending and debt bonding that created the current financial crisis and threatens to make New Haven unlivable for future generations; and abandonment of a “Kids First” ideology in leadership of the public school system in exchange for a “strategy” defined by daily political power grabs and pettiness.
Should I be elected on November 7th, I plan to begin tackling these problems actively on my first day in office. I plan to lead a city government that places people above politics and self-interest. Should the current mayor be re-elected, I am hopeful that the campaign engagement around these topics will inspire her to commit to identifying and implementing solutions. I am also hopeful that regardless of any state office ambitions, she will commit to serving a full third term as mayor of New Haven. We can agree that the problems we’re facing require a full-time commitment to solve.
I am also proud that I’ve been able to run a clean campaign. As a participant in the clean election fund, I have not accepted donations from city contractors, special interests or big donors. I am proud that hundreds of New Haven residents gave small amounts of their money and large amounts of their time to try to bring about huge change. The incredible people who have tirelessly supported my campaign were not motivated by promises of city contracts, employment or promotions. They did not allow themselves to be threatened or intimidated by harassment from City Hall, machine politics or special interests. They donated and volunteered simply because they want to see a better New Haven. I will be eternally grateful for their efforts and conviction. I am inspired that they are my friends and neighbors.
In conclusion, I strongly encourage all New Haveners to vote on November 7th. The Democratic Primary had historically low voter turnout. Less than 20 percent of eligible voters chose to have their voice heard. The outcome of the primary was determined by fewer than five percent of the city’s residents. Local politics has tremendous impact over the day-to-day aspects of people’s lives. Every voice matters. Every vote truly counts. While I hope you will vote for me to lead New Haven into the future, I hope you will exercise your right either way. And I call on all individuals running for public office to encourage more people to vote because no leader should want to assume office based on the limited mandate of a very few voices. Voter apathy benefits no one, so where we see disengagement as we do in New Haven, it is incumbent upon leaders to restore confidence in their offices and the political system.
Progressive change often comes about incrementally. The Progress with Paca campaign has contributed to incremental progress in New Haven, if by no other means than opening up necessary dialogue and challenging the status quo. Irrespective of the outcome of November’s election I will remain actively engaged in city issues and will continue to encourage new people to participate in civic life. I would love to live in a New Haven where people are so actively engaged that there is a competitive election for every office, thus requiring residents to offer, test and challenge new ideas. Competition forces us to innovate; innovation enables us to improve.
Given New Haven’s serious fiscal troubles, the foreseeable years are going to be very difficult ones. For the city to emerge stronger on the other side, we will need to harness the wisdom and power of our collective voices. I plan to continue to do my part to fight for more opportunity for our youth, more security for our senior citizens and more protection for our most vulnerable neighbors. We must hold our leaders and ourselves accountable to a higher bar. We deserve better. We can do better. I hope to see you at the ballot box on November 7th. Let’s work together for a brighter future for the city we all call home.
Marcus Paca was the Democratic primary challenger to New Haven Mayor Toni Harp in September 2017. His website is www.marcuspaca2017.com and he can be reached at email@example.com.