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Allan Brison Upsets Incumbent in New Haven


Mike DeRosa, Green Party of Connecticut and Mike Feinstein, Green Party of California

For the first time in four years, the New Haven Board of Aldermen (City Council) has a Green alderman. Allan Brison was sworn in on January 1st, 2008, along with the other 29 elected members of the Board of Aldermen, at Beecher Primary School wearing a green tie loaned to him by his fellow New Haven Green Party co-chair Charlie Pillsbury.

In the November 6th election, Brison trounced incumbent Democrat Edward Mattison in a two-way race 386 votes to 283 (57.7%). Mattison had been Ward 10 Alderman for 6 years and on election night was observed by supporters to be shocked as the numbers from the precincts came in.

img_0395-400px.jpgBrison told the Green Party of Connecticut’s Green Times that he had “beat a well entrenched political insider who has never voted against a significant piece of legislation proposed by long-time Democratic Mayor John DeStefano.” New Haven Greens have long apposed the city’s strong mayor/weak council system of government, which they feel overly concentrates power in the hands of the mayor and by extension, the Democratic Town Committee chair.

Not only was Brison’s victory the first for a Green in four years, but it was the first against an incumbent alderman in a regular election. The last Greens to be elected were John Halle (Ward 9) and Joyce Chen (Ward 2) and both were elected to open seatsHalle in a July 2001 special election and Chen in a November 2001 regular election.

Brison’s lively campaign included participating in two debates, along with an active door-to-door campaign in Ward 10 in both the more affluent area of the ward and in the lower income Cedar Hill section near State Street.

Brison focused on the lack of independence in the Board of Education. Appointed by the Mayor, the School Board is too open to political interference, according to Brison. He recommends an elected Board of Education

An even more glaring problem is the lack of oversight of a police department that has been under investigation for allegedly planting drugs, and then falsely arresting someone who subsequently went to jail for many years, as well as falsifying overtime pay to increase retirement benefits. Brison recommends more oversight on the Police Department by the Board of Aldermen

Brison observed that while “gentrification of the downtown may make it look good, it has also driven people out of the city.” Brison favors a more humane type of economic development that will use small loans to en courage sustainable business development in the downtown area that truly serves local needs.

By contrast, according to Brison, de Stefano has promoted redevelopment that is not in the long-term economic interest of New Haven residents, instead favoring big developers who are given tax exemptions and then exit the city after they’ve benefited, leaving the city holding the bag.

Brison has also opposed what he be lieves is Yale University’s unilateralism in New Haven’s development and cultural and intellectual life. Its annual four million dollar donation vastly understates its real tax impact on the community. With a $22 billion endowment and several profit-making arms that are not taxed, Yale should do more, maintains Brison, to help pay the community’s cost in addressing poverty, unemployment and crime.

On the city’s streets, Brison wants the developments of carbon-free transportation that would include the greater use of bicycles, including setting aside a bike-only street, along with more bike lanes and the development of the fleet of public bicycles.

After receiving a higher percentage of the vote in his own ward than the May or, Brison enters the Board of Aldermen with the hope of making astriking economic and social contrast. About a third of the Board is generally progressive, he feels, and “depending upon the issue, additional coalitions can be built to do the public’s business, and perhaps green New Haven in the process.”

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