New Haven’s mayor addresses violence, finances in State of the City address

Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 6:50 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 7, 2023 at 6:32 AM EST
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NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) - New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker delivered his State of the City Address Monday at City Hall.

Watch the address below:

Two years ago in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Elicker gave this speech to an empty chamber.

The Board of Alders and members of the public watched online through the Zoom application. It was far different this time.

While Elicker said the city made plenty of progress, there were still plenty of challenges.

“It’s to reflect on just how far we’ve come, but also how much work we have to do together,” Elicker said.

Elicker, a little more than one month in to his second term, laid out his vision for the Elm City as he delivered his State of the City Address.

“We need to make sure our kids have every opportunity to come out of the pandemic and address some of our issues around absenteeism, literacy and math. We still face a lot of challenges around public safety,” Elicker said.

That’s because the end of 2022 and the start of 2023 saw an uptick in deadly shootings in New Haven. Elicker said public safety was just one of the big issues the city must focus on in the year ahead.

“This year we’ve already lost five members of our community to gun violence, and their tragic and senseless deaths have deepened our resolve and commitment to a holistic and multi-pronged approach to reducing gun violence,” he said.

Elicker also addressed the issue of absenteeism in schools. To counter that, New Haven Public Schools reportedly increased staffing and expanded training.

“Since June of 2022 until now, we’ve seen a decline in chronic absenteeism by 20 percentage points. Now let’s be clear, we have a long way to go,” Elicker said.

He also addressed the city’s finances.

Two years ago, Elicker said the city faced a $66 million budget hole. However, increases in the state’s payment in lieu of taxes program, along with an increase in Yale’s annual voluntary payment to the city, were game changers.

He said he felt the economic growth from new businesses to new construction showed New Haven has been moving in the right direction.

“We’ve got a lot more work to do, but the way we can do this is a recipe we’ve used for years, being a city that welcomes everyone, supports everyone, that ultimately works together,” Elicker said.

Not everyone agreed with the mayor’s outlook.

A handful of Democrats have already thrown their hat into the ring, looking to run against Elicker in the primary this summer. They argued the city needs a new direction.