There is friction between Quinnipiac University and the city of Hamden, mayor-elect Scott Jackson acknowledged. But the two parties came together on Friday when Jackson spoke to Professor Betsy Rosenblum’s QU 101 class.
“Hamden must recognize that Quinnipiac is an asset,” he said. “It is what brings people to this town.”
Jackson recalled his stay at Quinnipiac years ago when a hurricane hit his home on Putnam Avenue.
“This is unbelievable,” he remembered thinking, seeing the aesthetic qualities of the Mount Carmel campus.
Rosenblum, a member of the part-time Media Studies faculty, brought Jackson to her 11 a.m. class.
“He’s cool,” Rosenblum said as she introduced him. “I voted for him.”
Raised in Hamden, Jackson graduated from Hamden High School in 1989 and went on to attend Cornell University. He is married with two sons and, of course, lives in Hamden.
“It’s the best place on earth,” Jackson said of the town.
With a bachelor’s degree in government, Jackson jumped onto the political stage. He worked for Sen. Joe Lieberman from 1993-2000, and then again in 2003-2004. In 2004, he was appointed by Mayor Carl Amento to manage the Town’s Office of Housing and Neighborhood Development.
When considering his run for mayor, Jackson fondly remembers Amento saying, “nobody knows the way this town runs like you do.”
Jackson, 37, is not only the youngest mayor ever elected, but also the first African-American mayor-elect of Hamden, and will be inaugurated on Nov. 29.
Jackson was asked to come speak to Quinnipiac students in a QU101 class.
About 15 minutes into the class, Timothy Dansdill, the QU101 coordinator and English professor, came into the room. He presented Jackson with a copy of Barack Obama’s memoir, “Dreams From My Father.” After reading an excerpt from the book, Dansdill spoke briefly about the impact of a black leader in the community.
Jackson reflected on the Obama excerpt, went straight to the chalkboard and wrote the words, “organizing and building community,” two concepts that are coincidentally discussed when dealing with Obama’s memoir.
“There are 23,000 doors in Hamden,” Jackson said. “We knocked on as many as possible. You can learn a lot about our neighbors when you meet them.”
Dansdill also reflected on his personal experience with the civil rights movement and mentioned Jackson’s role as an African-American politician.
Jackson referred to people that were against the civil rights movement as being “on the wrong side of history.”
“I don’t ever want to be on the wrong side of history,” Jackson said.
One student asked how Jackson responds to citizens of Hamden that don’t identify with him.
“I’m many things,” Jackson, an Ivy League graduate and father of two, said “You’re going to be able to associate me with at least one.”