“Working hard to make Hamden work for you!” is the slogan on Democrat Scott Jackson’s Web site. On Nov. 3, Hamden residents worked hard for Jackson to elect him as the new mayor. Jackson, 37, a lifelong resident of Hamden, will be the youngest and first African-American mayor to serve the town of Hamden.
Jackson’s successful campaign began in May, but it had a slow start. Obstacles that stood in the way include a short campaign season, low name recognition and no base of financial support.
“We structured a campaign based on outreach – reaching the voters where they live – and through hard work were able to overcome those obstacles,” Jackson said. “From day one we expected to win and we executed a plan to pull it off.”
Joseph McDonagh, chair of the Hamden Democrats, was not surprised by Jackson’s victory.
“There were four that were considering running and two dropped out of the running prior to the convention,” he said. “He was selected by the town committee first back in July because he has the best credentials. He was certainly the best choice. He has a good vision for what he wants Hamden to be.”
Jackson worked with previous Hamden mayor Craig Henrici during his two terms as mayor and had Henrici’s endorsement in his campaign. Henrici chose not to run in this election.
“Scott Jackson has been my right hand for my two terms as mayor,” Henrici said. “We accomplished many things that we’re proud of in my administration and I couldn’t have done it without him. Scott knows everything about government and he’ll be a fantastic mayor.”
Jackson graduated from Hamden High School and went on to excel in Cornell University, majoring in government. He describes his role in the Hamden community as “town manager,” with him serving as chief liaison to the Legislative Council, Hamden’s representative to regional entities, special project manager which includes the negotiation of Hamden’s 20-year trash contract, and self-proclaimed “futurist for determining tomorrow’s needs today.”
“I think it helped,” Jackson said of experiences with Mayor Henrici. “There will be no surprises when I assume the mayor’s chair, and I think many of the residents who voted for me were voting for stability over the tumult that can occur every two years.”
“Scott is extraordinarily knowledgeable in how to work in government and how to get things done. His résumé is longer than his age would suggest. He stood out to people; anyone who met him became immediately comfortable with him,” McDonagh said.
Jackson’s interests are invested in the schools in the Hamden area and therefore he plans to continue Henrici’s agreement with Quinnipiac University for every undergraduate to be housed on campus.
“The University is an asset to the town, but its unfettered growth in the early part of this decade has cost it a lot of ‘goodwill capital’ in Northern Hamden,” Jackson said. “That good will must be restored by greater participation (by both students and the administration) in community events, continued dormitory construction and aggressive pursuit of disciplinary action for off-campus activity (especially among ‘repeat offenders.’) Student leaders must also be willing to be held accountable as community leaders if QU is to truly become a part of the greater Hamden community.”
Henrici also spoke about town-University relations.
“It’s a condition of planning and zoning approval that if QU’s enrollment increases they have to build housing for them,” Henrici said. “I’ve always said that the kids aren’t doing anything I didn’t do in college, but it doesn’t go well with the neighborhoods.”
In two weeks time, Jackson will take office as mayor.
“I think Scott is going to do extremely well because there hasn’t been a mayor come into office quite as well prepared as him,” McDonagh said. “I don’t mean to say others were unprepared; but he’s far more prepared than anybody that’s taken this on in the past. So I’m pretty confident he’s going to do awfully well.”