New Haven Votes

Oct 20

Oct 30

Look out for our charter revision flyer in your local library or community center. We will be distributing them around town this week.

Look out for our charter revision flyer in your local library or community center. We will be distributing them around town this week.

See what the charter referendum questions look like on the ballot:

See what the charter referendum questions look like on the ballot:

Sep 24

Charter Revision Explanatory Text


“Shall the Charter be revised to establish a seven member Board of Education comprised of the Mayor, four members appointed by the Mayor and two members elected by two districts, supplemented by two non voting student representatives?”

          Explanation.   This revision would establish a Board of Education comprised of four members appointed by the Mayor subject to confirmation by the Board of Alders and two members elected by district, effective on January 1, 2016.  In addition, two non-voting student representatives would be appointed to the board.  The Superintendent of Schools will be responsible for promoting student engagement; establishing programs facilitating the recruitment and involvement of students; mentoring and supporting the student representatives; and, providing such assistance as may be required.  


“Shall the City approve and adopt all other Charter changes as recommended by the Charter Revision Commission and approved by the Board of Alders?”

          Explanation.   The question deals broadly with restructuring the governance, policy development and regulatory powers of the City of New Haven, in the first instance, by organizing the Charter by governmental function. The proposed revisions would re-organize the Charter, making what had been thirty-nine separate articles into fifteen separate articles.  It does so by doing the following:
Preamble - The proposed revision adds the terms “gender identity or expression” and “any other class protected under law” to the delineation of the diverse population of the City
          Article I – Construction of the General Provisions:  Assembles definitions used throughout the Charter in one location.  The term “elector”, as defined by  state law, is now used as a replacement for a variety of terms dealing with “residency”.  Finally, the Article establishes a standard for different types of “notice” used in the Charter: “meeting or hearing notice” and “public notice, publication or published”. 

          Article II – Incorporation and General Powers:  Sets forth the incorporation and general grant of powers of the City conferred by the State Constitution, the General Statutes and the Special Acts.  The article further places all elected officials in one section of the Charter and spells out the term of office and date of election for the Mayor, City/Town Clerk, the Board of Aldermen and elected members of the Board of Education.  The article also consolidates current provisions pertaining to eligibility to serve; vacancies in elective office; establishment and reapportionment of voting districts (including education districts and repealing the current practice of eliminating wards by reapportionment); vacancies; removal and elector requirement for all elected and appointed officials (with a waiver process of the elector requirement for appointed officials); general provisions; conflict of interest and ethics standards; and, the Special Act provisions authorizing recall of the Mayor.

Article III - The Mayor.  Reaffirms the current provisions regarding the executive tasks and addresses modification of the Mayor’s appointing authority.  The proposed provisions require the establishment of qualifications for Mayoral appointees; Aldermanic confirmation of (1) coordinators and the Police and Fire Chiefs and (2) appointed board and commission members; continued service on all Boards and Commissions, except Board of Aldermen, Civil Service Board; Board of Ethics; and Board of Zoning Appeals.  Moreover, the Mayor would be prohibited from participating in the zoning functions of the City Planning Commission.

          Article IV -  Board of Alders.   Reiterates the current powers and duties of the Board of Aldermen and includes the statutory requirement placing the legislative authority in the Board. New provisions address:  (1) Confirmation of the four coordinators and the police and fire chiefs and board and commission members within certain time constraints; (2) A resubmission process of rejected nominees; and (3)  Election of a third leadership position and the ability to appoint additional legislative representatives of boards and commissions in the event there are no minority party alders.  The appointment cannot violate minority party representation provisions.

Article V - Other Elected Officials of the City.  Consolidates in one article the powers and prerogatives of the City Clerk/Town Clerk, Registrars of Voters and the elected members of the Board of Education, which will be effective on January 1, 2016.

Article VI – The City Government: Departments and Department Heads.   Confirms the authority and establishes protocols for the creation of departments to carry out the functions of government as well as the capacity to reorganize the functions of government set forth in the Charter, subject to a reorganization plan proposed by the Mayor and approved by the Board of Aldermen.  However, a “reorganization plan” may not circumvent or eliminate a Charter mandated function, unless the function was eliminated “as the result of a repealed Federal or State mandate and not otherwise in the best interest of the City to continue”.  In order to achieve this purpose the plan must “include specific reference to the departmental function(s) set forth in this Charter that will be carried out in said reorganization and shall be accompanied by an opinion of the Corporation Counsel verifying that the reorganized function complies with the Charter requirements   The Charter also delineates the following departmental functions and administrators:  (1) Corporation Counsel; Controller; Purchasing Agent; City Assessor; Director of Public Works; City Engineer; Chief of Police; Fire Chief; Director of Parks and Recreation; Director of Building Inspection and enforcement; Director of Public Health; City Librarian; Superintendent of Schools; Personnel Director; Planning Director and Director of Traffic and Parking.  Other departments may be established by Ordinance.  

Moreover, this article establishes the process for appointment and removal of department heads.  The four coordinators and police and fire chiefs are subject to confirmation by the Board of Alders.  The Charter also identifies officials appointed by and serving at the pleasure of the Mayor, appointed by the Mayor subject to civil service rules and appointment of the Director of Public Health by the Board of Public Health, the City Librarian appointed by the Board of Library Directors and the Superintendent of Schools by the Board of Education.  This provision also establishes general requirements applicable to all department heads and Mayoral department appointees: (a) general authority of department heads; (b) compensation; (c) elector requirement (with waiver option), (d) terms, (e) liability; (f) alteration of position titles; and, (g) a full time service requirement.  The article would authorize adoption, by ordinance, of qualifications for department heads on the basis of “nationally accepted professional standards and best practices in the applicable field”.  The current qualification provisions of the Charter are set forth for a transitional period in Article XV and will remain in effect until the qualifications ordinance is adopted.  Additionally the Charter would require the adoption of an ordinance establishing a central procurement system and process, consistent with the General Statutes, this Charter, Ordinance and standards established by organizations such as the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing and the National Association of State Purchasing Officials as well as the Model Procurement Code and Ordinances prepared by the American Bar Association”.  The current purchasing provisions of the Charter are set forth for a transitional period in Article XV and will remain in full force and effect until the adoption of the replacement ordinance. 

          Article VII - Boards and Commissions.   Sets forth the general requirements for all appointed boards and commissions including appointment and confirmation of members; publication of vacancies; elector requirement; dual appointment prohibition; term limitations; prohibition of compensation; vacancies; minority party representation; quorum requirements; and organization and procedures.  The Charter creates the following: Board of Education (discussed in Question #1, above);  Board of Ethics; Financial Review and Audit Commission; Board of Assessment Appeals; Board of Police Commissioners; Board of Fire Commissioners; Board of Park Commissioners; Board of Public Health; Board of Library Directors; Civil Service Board; City Planning Commission; Board of Zoning Appeals (“BZA”); and. a Civilian Review Board (“CRB”).  The BZA will be comprised of three members appointed by the Mayor, subject to confirmation by the Alders and two members appointed by the Alders.  The Charter would also require the creation of the CRB to ensure “…that investigations of complaints concerning misconduct by police officers involving members of the public be complete, thorough and impartial. These inquires shall be conducted fairly and independently, and in such a manner that the public has confidence”.  The Charter will also include a consistent method of creating boards and commissions (by ordinance if not required by the Charter):   the number of members shall always be odd and the term of office shall not exceed a term of five (5) years, which may be staggered; the requirement for selection of a chair and delineation of the responsibilities of the presiding officer; records-keeping and agenda posting requirements; public participation requirements including, but not limited to, notice of affected property owners, residential or commercial tenants and neighborhood organizations, establishing methods and means designed to encourage and increase public input and consultation of affected residents and to assure the opportunity for public speaking; and, public dissemination protocols pertaining to the frequency and location of public hearings and meetings.  Moreover, the Aldermen may, by ordinance, establish minimum qualifications, training requirements or attributes for members of boards and commissions for the sole purpose of assuring diversity of experiences, backgrounds or attributes and continuing education necessary to the functioning of the board or commission.

Article VIII – Budgetary Procedures; Reporting; Article IX – Improvement Bonds; Article X – Capital Projects Committee and Capital Budget; Article XI – Retirement and Pension Systems; and Article XII – Certain Laws Included by Reference.   Each of these articles recodifies current provisions. 

          Article XIII – Historic and Special Act Provisions of the Charter.  Reaffirms current provisions of the Charter pertaining to (1) Personnel and civil service.  There are no substantive changes with the following exceptions: (a) the civil service systems needs to recognize that there may be appointing authorities other than the Mayor and that they are subject to the provisions of the Charter; and (b) a “residency” preference will be established for “Any person domiciled in the City on the date of the announcement of an open competitive examination who attains the minimum rating prescribed for passage of such examination shall thereafter be accorded ten (10) additional points on a scale of one (100) hundred points in determining their rank on the eligible list approved by the Board for such examination. These points shall be in addition to any preference points accorded to veterans pursuant to the Charter; however, the cumulative total of the two preferences shall not exceed fifteen (15) points in total. No preference points for being domiciled in the City shall be allowed for any promotional examination.  The term “domiciled in the City” shall the meaning ascribed to it by the rules of the Civil Service Board”; (2)  Planning and zoning (no changes); and (3) Assessment of Benefits and Damages (no changes).

Article XIV – Administrative Provisions.  This article reaffirms the mandatory decennial Charter Review and severability provisions as well as establish the effective date of Charter Amendment as January 1, 2014 (unless otherwise set forth in the Charter).

Article XV – Historic purchasing and department head qualification provisions subject to sunset as authorized by this charter.  This article is a transition provision, which address shifts of the following from the charter to the Code of Ordinances:  (1) The procurement provisions.  Accordingly, until the effective date of the charter-mandated procurement ordinance matters pertaining to purchasing and bidding procedures shall continue to be subject to the provisions of Article XV.  If approved, the Mayor shall appoint a task force which, following consultation with the City Purchasing Agent, shall report a proposed ordinance to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen within six months following January 1, 2014, at which time the provision of Article XV will be of no force and effect.  (2) Department head qualification provision.  Following January 1, 2014, the Mayor shall instruct the Personnel Director to commence the process of preparing a report delineating Department Head Qualifications as required by this Charter.  The Mayor shall (following consultation with the Personnel Director) propose such modifications and recommendations to the Board of Aldermen within six months from the adoption of the amended charter.  The pertinent provisions relating to department heads shall remain in full force and effect until the effective date of the replacement ordinance.  The qualifications of the Fire Chief are changed to permit recruitment of a chief from outside the New Haven department.  Finally, the departments of welfare and airport are repealed.

Burr Demurs | New Haven Independent -

Coverage of our National Voter Registration Day activities earlier today.

Jul 06

Public Safety Mayoral Debate -- Monday 7/8 -

The New Haven mayoral candidates will debate policing and public safety
issues this Monday:

Jul 01



Jun 18

2013 Connecticut Legislative Session Summary -

Every year the Connecticut General Assembly’s Office of Legislative
Research (OLR) prepares a summary of the “most significant, far-reaching, and publicly debated acts” for the most recent legislative session. Here is the OLR report for the 2013 regular session.

The mayoral candidates will discussion education at a candidate forum this Friday.

The mayoral candidates will discussion education at a candidate forum this Friday.

May 21




The following changes to New Haven’s city charter are currently under consideration. You will have a chance to vote on some or all of these items in this November’s election. These changes would become permanent until another charter revision commission is convened, which might not take place until 2023.





  1. Board of Ed

    1. Currently all of the members of the New Haven Board of Education are appointed by the mayor. The proposed charter amendments would replace two of the appointed positions with elected positions.

    2. Under the proposed charter, the Board of Education would include two new non-voting student members from city high schools.

  2. The Civilian Review Board for police complaints would be given a permanent status in the charter and allocated more power to conduct oversight of the actions of the police.

  3. The Board of Aldermen would have the power to confirm or reject the mayor’s appointments to all city boards and commissions. Currently there are some boards and commissions that do not require aldermanic approval.

  4. Changes to civil service rules – New Haven residents would be given an advantage in hiring for these positions.

  5. The annual stipend/salary of the aldermen would be raised from $2000 to $3000 and indexed to inflation.

  6. The charter will be completely reorganized and modernized

    1. With elimination of anachronisms and inconsistencies in language,

    2. Updating with gender neutral language (e.g. Board of Alders)

    3. as well as minor changes to the

      1. aldermanic tax abatement authority,

      2. redistricting procedures, and

      3. public participation and quorum requirements.