With Hamden’s mayoral race ahead, Quinnipiac professors urge students to stay informed

Chatwan Mongkol and Nicole McIsaac

Ahead of the Hamden general elections on Nov. 2, Quinnipiac University professors are urging students to engage in local politics and educate themselves on the issues that could impact them.

Democrat Lauren Garrett and Republican Ron Gambardella will face each other in general elections on Nov. 2, for Hamden’s mayoral office. (Chatwan Mongkol)

“Many of the problems you will encounter in your life are of local creation and will have local solutions, but you will need to know how those problems came to be and who has the power to help implement a solution,” said Jennifer Sacco, professor of political science and women’s and gender studies.

Sacco emphasized the connection between local-level politics and the issues that typically rise to national attention. 

“Participating in local politics and elections forms good habits of citizenship, which enable you to be a better steward of your own interests, as well as of the issues you care about, at the local, state, national, and international levels,” Sacco said. 

Katie Place, associate professor of strategic communication, said she remembers being a student and thinking that her “one vote would never make a difference.” 

“Items on the ballot today could affect you directly,” Place said. “Down to how much you will owe in taxes, the availability and affordability of your housing, the transportation options available to you in your town and the curriculum in your area’s schools and universities.” 

Hamden’s highest executive office is up for grabs this election cycle. Democratic candidate Lauren Garrett and Republican candidate Ron Gambardella are running against each other, and their names will be on the ballot on election day.

Independent Al Lotto and incumbent Mayor Curt Leng, the latter of which lost to Garrett during primaries, are still in the race as write-in candidates.

Both Garrett and Gambardella are not new to the political scene as they ran unsuccessful mayoral campaigns in the past. However this year, they entered the race with the same initial goals – to take Leng out of the office and solve Hamden’s financial crisis.

Quinnipiac’s relationship with the town has not been great in the past several years, both candidates told The Chronicle. Garrett said the university and the town are “intrinsically linked” and they lean on each other for what they need.

To better the relationship between the two parties, Garrett said the town needs a mayor who shows up to Quinnipiac’s important events, referring to Leng who didn’t attend President Judy Olian’s inauguration.

“I think that it would be beneficial for the relationship between Hamden and Quinnipiac if we just had more interaction, more building bridges and working together so that we can develop a good relationship,” Garrett said.

For Gambardella, he said the town needs the university when it comes to the local economy. That’s why he is supportive of Quinnipiac’s master plan because it would bring economic development to Hamden, which would help local businesses.

“I will make myself available to both the student council and any official at Quinnipiac if they have specific issues they would like to discuss with me,” Gambardella said. “I’d be happy to participate in that.”

In terms of fundraising, Garrett has raised $24,980 while Gambardella has raised $13,260 since their campaigns began, according to the latest campaign finance filing on Oct. 10.

Town clerk, representative at-large, district representatives and board of education are also up for election. Polling will open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 2, at nine locations throughout Hamden.