Challenger in New Haven mayoral race facing off against former boss

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — We are your local election headquarters for all of the big political races here in Connecticut.

On Tuesday, we’re taking a closer look at New Haven’s mayoral race where one of the challengers is facing off against his former boss.

It’s hard to believe, but New Haven is already back in campaign mode. The Democratic primary is just three weeks away and Mayor Harp has a challenger.

Going door to door, Marcus Paca is trying to make his case to become the next Mayor of New Haven.

“I wanted to let you know what my vision is for New Haven,” Paca said.

Related Content: Capitol Report: Discussion on Mayor Harp’s run for a third term

With every flyer handed out or left on a doorknob, the lifelong Democrat is pushing his grassroots campaign against the two-term incumbent Mayor Toni Harp arguing for a new vision.

“Criss-crossing the city earning the votes of local residents, telling them New Haven deserves a fresh, new vision. We have a great city with a lot of potential, but that potential hasn’t been realized with this current administration,” Paca said.

Paca had to collect more than 1,800 signatures to qualify for the primary after the Democratic party endorsed Harp, who won the last election by a 10-to-1 margin.

“We are the most vibrant city in the State of Connecticut and it couldn’t be fresher. I don’t know what city he lives in, but New Haven is a happening city,” Mayor Harp said.

The race is not just about being on the right path versus a new vision, though. The two also have opposing positions on things like gentrification and sanctuary city status and running the risk of losing federal funds.

“I’m an advocate for sanctuary cities, but I also think it’s important that the government, especially our local government, understands the potential consequences for supporting that and come up with a contingency plan,” Paca said.

“You can’t have a safe city if your neighbors think you are going to undermine their ability to live here,” Mayor Harp said.

Related Content: Marcus Paca running for mayor of New Haven

As the city’s former Labor Relations Director, Paca will be facing off with his former boss and it’s not just politics as usual for the two candidates.

“They began calling up people that signed my petition to get them to retract their signature. They have called my donors and harassed people who have given money to my campaign,” Paca said.

“We heard from some people they were given forms to sign and never donated,  but the truth is you’ve got to be honest. You’ve got to be forthright and transparent and when there are difficulties, don’t be afraid that people are going to look into them,” Mayor Harp said.

In the end, it all comes down to the voters.

“The proof is really in the job I’ve done,” Mayor Harp said.

“I have the people behind me and change always starts at the grassroots level,” Paca said.

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