October 25, 2009
By Ken Krayeske • 1:00 PM EST
Allan Brison answers a question during a fundraiser at Charlie Pillsbury's house in New Haven on Thursday, October 22, 2009. More than 35 people showed up to talk about community issues like parking and schools. Allan is running for re-election as New Haven's only Green Party Alderman.
While likely 99 percent of the readership of this website cannot vote to re-elect New Haven Green Party Alderman Allan Brison on November 3, the world at large should know who Allan is and why he matters.
I have inclination to write about this because Green Party stalwart Charlie Pillsbury and his partner Allie Perry hosted a fundraiser at their newly refurbished home on Saint Ronan Street Thursday night, October 22.
While Charlie's house is technically not in Allan's district, some 35 people showed up to gnosh on munchies and let the mother's milk of politics flow: money. I wrote Allan a check for $50, because without Allan, my life would probably be very different.
In the summer of 2006, Allan Brison collected well more than 2,500 signatures to help put gubernatorial candidate Cliff Thornton on the ballot. Without Allan, Cliff doesn't make the ballot.
If Cliff never makes the ballot, we never make a stink about candidates Mayor DeStefano and Gov. M. Jodi Rell colluding to shut Cliff out of the debates. Such zealous advocacy never attracts the interest of the Governor's Security Unit of the Connecticut State Police, and I never get put on a watch list and arrested for my political activites, and we never find out that the state police keep watch lists.
Such is the cause and effect of local politics. So, in my eyes, Allan deserves all the support we can give him. Make no doubt about it, Allan's collection of those signatures was a Herculean task. And his task of challenging Mayor DeStefano's machine is as Sisphyean a chore.
He showed tenacity and toughness on the 2006 campaign trail. If he didn't show he was made of nails with his petitioning success, there were the times like when he chauffered Ralph Nader around one day and Ralph yelled at him, and Allan barked right back.
Because of these qualities, we talked often about him running in 2007. In fact, we contemplated that a measure of success of the Thornton for Governor campaign would be Allan's electoral victory in 2007.
So he won. He is the lone independent voice among 30 members of New Haven's Board of Aldermen, 28 of whom are Democrats - one who is Republican. The 28 Democrats are split between DeStefano's machine and independents who have managed to challenge the machine. But Allan stands alone.
This year, Mayor John DeStefano has propped up candidate Justin Elicker to challenge Allan. Elicker moved into Ward 10 only in January of this year, a tactic that sounds a lot like carpetbagging to me, but what do I know?
Elicker has positioned himself as an independent. It is the propaganda he must pitch in order to defeat a real independent. But make no mistake, members of Mayor DeStefano's staff campaign with him, and help him run his operation.
At the recent Brison fundraiser, attendees asked Allan how they should differentiate him from Elicker. Aside from pointing out Elicker's standard campaign promises he can't keep, Brison dug into how he has tried to push fiscal responsibility and transparency from his platform as an Alderman.
During his two years on the Board of Alderman, Allan's biggest achievement has been starting debate, like the concept that there should be an elected board of education. Currently, New Haven is one of three out of 169 towns in Connecticut where the Mayor appoints the Board of Education. It is a pure patronage system.
Attendees at the fundraiser discussed that the only way you can become a principal of a school is to donate to Mayor DeStefano, who Elm City denizens have taken to calling "Mayor for Life."
Allan Brison has pushed ordinances in New Haven to prevent double dipping, where city workers are encouraged to take early retirement, then come back and work their same jobs as a consultant. Allan has pushed bicycle-friendly streets legislation, and passed a billa bout green cleaning agents - keeping toxins out of public buildings.
He challenged the Mayor on the $10 million Solid Waste Transfer Authority bonding boondoggle, and has gone up against United Illuminating's rate hike proposals.
In Ward 10, Allan has pushed for traffic calming and parking measures, and worked to ease tensions with school construction at the nearby Hooker School.
Most importantly, a number of Democratic Alderman have endorsed Allan, which is perhaps the biggest reason that Allan should earn re-election. He has managed, from his outsider position, to attract supporters from outside the Democratic Party machine.
As one of the lone Green Party elected officials in Connecticut, I hope that Allan wins, and I hope everyone will support him.