Last week, Dan Drew, a Middletown Common Councilman, accepted the mayoral Democratic nomination for next fall’s election, running against three-term Republican Mayor Sebastian Giuliano. In light of Drew’s announcement, student groups on campus have begun preparations for the mayoral race.
Ben Florsheim ’14, the Vice President of Wesleyan Democrats (WesDems), said that the campus group plans to assist Dan Drew as much as possible through phone banks, door knocking, and any other help the campaign needs. He also stressed that the campaign must make changes to their 2009 strategy when it comes to capturing votes from Wesleyan students.
“Last time around, [Dan Drew] lost by a very slim margin,” Florsheim said. “The margin was the number of Wesleyan students who could have voted for him but didn’t. Part of the reason for that is there was not a strong enough case made by his campaign to the students of Wesleyan for why they should care, or why having a Democratic mayor will be important for them.”
Florsheim said that part of the problem stemmed from the assumption that Wesleyan students, largely Democratic, would be self-motivated to vote.
“I think that [assumption] disillusioned people and made it so they didn’t vote, which is a shame because even though a strong case wasn’t made, [Dan Drew] still would have done really good things,” Florsheim said.
Florsheim also stressed that there are many personal reasons students should take an interest in Drew’s campaign. Drew’s goals include creating an open door policy for students to come talk to him, improving transportation, and addressing environmental concerns.
Tori Rowe ’13, President of Wesleyan College Republicans (WCR), said that as a group they will be equally active in supporting the reelection of Giuliano. Rowe stated that she, as well as former WCR President Alex Levin ’12, serve on the Republican Town Committee and consider Middletown politics very important. In 2009, the WCR helped Giuliano campaign by phonebanking for the incumbent. Rowe hopes that the candidates will face off in another on-campus debate as they did in 2009.
“At the local level, party politics don’t mean the same thing,” Rowe said. “I think it was really enlightening for students to go and listen to [Giuliano and Drew] go head to head on important issues.”
Florsheim echoed this sentiment, and said that it is important for students to understand that the mayoral election does not divide clearly between party lines.
“City government is the type of government that affects you on a day to day basis,” Florsheim said. “We’re not going to see the hugely divisive issues [compared to the national level] in this election. It comes down to who is going to govern responsibility.”