Michael Germano has officially announced his candidacy in the 2003 election of the Hamden Town Council. Just two years ago, Jon Kroll, then a Quinnipiac student, lost in his bid for Town Council.
In this election, Germano will be running against Hamden resident Mathew Fitch. Fitch, 37 and a democrat, is the president of Merriman-River and works as a labor consultant. He feels Quinnipiac is an important part of the district, but his main focus will be open space preservation.
“Hamden is growing at an incredible rate,” said Fitch. “We need to make sure we do not overdevelop.”
Germano, a Independent, is currently involved with the Student Government Association (SGA), holding the position of Vice President of Public Relations. He feels this party will help him better serve the people in Hamden as well as the students of Quinnipiac.
“I am running as an independent,” said Germano. “This means that I can make my own decisions. Most Democrats feel as if they have to vote the way of the mayor because he is the head Democrat. I don’t need to feel that way. I do not have to listen to anyone and can vote the way I choose.”
Germano has been an active part of the SGA for the past three years and has always followed Hamden Town Politics.
“I have always been interested in town politics,” said Germano. “So I started going to all the town council meetings. At first it was for pure enjoyment. I wanted to get more involved with the town and I also wanted to see what the meetings were like. But the more I went the more upset I got with the way the representative of my district was voting.”
This sense of aggravation propelled Germano into endless research about the town and the governing bodies of Hamden. The more information he found, the more he wanted to help change the course of actions taken by the council.
“During this past summer, I asked myself if running for town council was something I wanted, something I could handle, and if it was something I had the time to do,” he said. “As I continued going to the meetings, I didn’t feel as if any of the issues were over my head. I thought I could handle it. The more I went to the meetings, the more I realized this was something I sought to do.”
One of the most shocking bits of information found during his research was a recent law passed in Hamden. The law states that no more than four students can live in house without being evicted. Germano stated he does not like the fact that this was segregating the students.
“One of the main problems is the fact that students don’t know their rights,” Germano said. “When students are on campus Residential Life and the SGA can help you. But what happens when you move off campus senior year? Who is going to protect you, who is going to fight for your rights and be your voice?”.
According to Germano, Quinnipiac is the number one employer for the town of Hamden. For this reason he believes Hamden should protect the students.
“Quinnipiac is the top moneymaker and the top employer of people in Hamden,” said Germano. “So I feel that with Hamden passing these laws, they are not pulling their weight with student safety. Students need a voice in the position of town council. This will show the community that we are active members of society.”
This led him to his platform of student rights and bettering the relationship between Quinnipiac and Hamden.
“I want to give students a voice in the community,” he said. “I am not going to be this naive student who thinks I can make all these changes in one year. But I hope to protect the students and their basic rights. I want to inform them. But, I also want to want to build a stronger communication field between Hamden and Quinnipiac and work on the relationship between the students and the town.”
As of right now, there is the misconception that no one in Hamden likes students within the Quinnipiac community. According to Germano, this is a huge miscommunication between the two and through his campaign this miscommunication can be cleared up.
“By having someone on the council who knows the issues of Quinnipiac students, who can better voice their concerns, and who can tell them what is happening within the university,” said Germano, “the town will ultimately understand the university better and therefore be able to relate to the Quinnipiac community. This is the way to solve the problem.”
Germano also believes through his hard work, Hamden will start seeing Quinnipiac students as something more than wealthy kids who drive BMWs with their music blasting.
“When they see me as a hardworking individual,” he said, “they will start to see all students that way.”
Members of the Town Council and the Quinnipiac community have already seen the dedication Germano has put into his campaign.
“For the last six months, I have been an active citizen in Hamden” he said. “I have moved up here. I was here all summer long talking to the town’s people, finding out what their wants and needs are. I have spent hours talking to senior citizens finding out their needs. This town has become my passion. Being on the Town Council has become something I want to do and something that I believe in.”
Germano feels his work on SGA has already helped him understand how the Town Council works.
“The Council follows parliamentary procedure,” said Germano. “I have taken strict classes on parliamentary procedure and have already known the method of it through my work on the SGA.”
He also feels that his knowledge of information technology will help him lessen the gap between the council and the town.
“I would like to be able to work on the council website,” he said. “I think that the site should be clearer so people know what is going on within the council.”
One fear that crosses many people’s minds about Germano’s campaign may be the fact that he is still a junior in college. However, Germano feels the district needs to look past his student status and see him as a concerned resident of Hamden.
“The people in this district cannot look at me as just a student,” he said. “I am a student who cares about democracy and politics. I believe that if you are not happy with the way your political council is running then it is your obligation to change it. I am the type of person who is not going to sit back and whine about the issues at hand. I am going to take action.”
Germano continued by saying that just because he is a Quinnipiac student does not mean he will always vote in the favor of the university.
“Being a student does make me pro-Quinnipiac,” Germano said. “However, I am very careful about my beliefs and what Quinnipiac wants to do. For example, I believe in Quinnipiac expansion, but only if it is done in a lawful way that is not disrupting the community. I will still be the first person to say something if I feel they [Quinnipiac] did something wrong.”
Fitch does not seem to mind the 16-year gap between him and his opponent. He thinks Germano is a suitable candidate for the position.
“I think it is great that Mike is running,” Fitch said. “One of the ongoing problems is Quinnipiac’s isolation from the town. I think by Mike running, it will break this isolation. I take him as a serious candidate. At the end of the day, this will bring the town and the students closer together and they will find out they have more in common then they thought.”
Kerstin Soderlund, Director of the Carl Hanson Student Center at Quinnipiac University, also feels Germano will make a great town councilman.
“If anyone has the potential of gaining a seat on the council, it is Mike,” said Soderlund. “I can see him winning this election.”
Even with the upcoming elections, Germano still has responsibilities on the home front at Quinnipiac. He is still a student and is still an elected member of the SGA.
Germano stated that in preparation for this campaign he spent his summer taking summer classes just to ease the load during his academic year. He also worked hard to delegate responsibilities to sub-committees within the public relations department of the SGA.
“Yes, it is very time consuming and it is a lot of pressure,” Germano said. “But I function better when I have a lot of stuff to do. Plus, I am very passionate about this election. If I am elected the times when I am not working or doing this for the SGA, I will be in the library. Yes, it will seriously cut into my social life, but it is worth it to me. I am the kind of person who strives to do well. I will give all aspects of my life 100%.”
Soderlund agrees that Germano will be able to handle the load but offers him this piece of advice.
“He is going to have to reconsider his life and set forth different priorities,” she said. “He has to remember that academics is his top priority.”
Another way Germano is helping to relieve his stress is through his campaign staff.
“When looking into running, I knew I would need a dedicated team to help me with my campaign,” said Germano. “These guys are very into politics. They know what they are talking about. They are not all my best friends; they are people from different majors and people who I look up to.”
Richard Baltimore, Matt Bucci, Eric Marco, Robert Gaafar, Tyler Tessier, David Mercurio, Greg Oates and Mark Antonucci make up the campaign committee working with Germano.
But he also had outside help. People from the town and people on the town council have offered their advice throughout the process.
“These people have made me realize that running is only half the battle,” he said. “Gaining the respect of the town is the hard part. But, because I have talked with many people, I feel it will still be a tough battle but I know I can do it.”
He believes through going to the Town Council meetings, talking to townspeople, and asking questions of everyone along the way, he is already a step further to their respect.
Germano stated he is going to make voting on campus as easy as possible for students. His first plan of action is going to be dorm storming with university voter cards.
“I contacted the Secretary of State and had them ship me thousands of special university voter registration cards,” said Germano. “This means that students can vote and they will not be asked to serve on jury duty. The government realizes that students should be able to vote here, because this is where they live for the majority of the year.”
Germano and his committee are planning to have rallies and massive registration drives.
The first rally will be held on Sunday, September 21 at 8 p.m. in Alumni Hall. Updates on these events can be found on Votemikegermano.com. This website contains information on Germano’s campaign as well as his stance on town issues that are already in process.
To make the actual voting process easier, Germano stated he will be providing the students with a limo shuttling system. He believes this will make it easier for students to get back and forth to the polls on elections day.
The main issue Germano is facing with voting is getting people in Hamden to vote for him as well.
When Kroll ran for Town Council he depended solely on Quinnipiac students. Germano said he would not make the same mistakes as Kroll did in his campaign.
“I have a lot of respect for Jon and I don’t really remember his campaign, but I do know things that I would do differently,” said Germano. “I am first going to run a professional campaign. Second, I am not just depending on Quinnipiac students. I am making the effort to go out into the community and meet people to gain their trust. My campaign will be more energetic then Jon’s.”
When Kroll found out about Germano’s campaign, he was happy that another student was trying to unite the town and the university.
“I was able to get involved because I had motivation and desire,” Kroll said. “All it took was the signing of some documents and the will power to hopefully create change. Mike has this. I am a huge supporter of Mike Germano and what he is doing.”
Germano believes if he wins this campaign it will be the dawn of a new era in the political system of Hamden.
“If one student successfully runs a campaign and wins it will show other students that this can happen,” he said. “Then every two years, another student will run.”
He stated Yale’s Board of Aldermen always has a student on it.
“There is no reason why the students should not unite and select a Quinnipiac student,” Germano said. “This is one way to make things get better. This is something that can be started here. It is the right thing. It is something that is history: the start of a tradition where a student can run and actually win a seat on the Town Council.”