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Charter Revision

On November 7th you will have the opportunity to vote on New Haven’s once-a-decade Charter Revision which was unanimously approved by the Board of Alders. 


The most significant change the Charter Revision makes is extending Mayoral, City Clerk, Alder, and Registrar terms from two-years to four-years. The referendum question on your ballot is only one sentence, but it will have a lasting impact on elections in New Haven and how our government functions. 


November 7th Charter Revision Question: 


The Charter Revision question will appear on the front right-hand side of your ballot and read as follows: 


 “Shall Charter changes as recommended by the Charter Revision Commission and adopted by the Board of Alders be approved and adopted?”


If approved, New Haven’s 2023 Charter Revision will: 


  • IMPLEMENT 4-YEAR TERMS for Mayor, Alders, City Clerk, and Registrars beginning in 2027. Currently, New Haven is the only major city in Connecticut without four-year terms. 


  • COST OF LIVING ADJUSTMENT FOR ALDERS from $2,000 to $5,000 per year. The $2,000 annual Alder Stipend was last set 30 years ago. Since 1995 the dollar had an average of 2.54% inflation producing a cumulative price increase of over 100%. The proposed COLA to Aldermanic stipends closes some of that gap.


  • REVISE CONFIRMATION TIMELINES to give the Board of Alders 90 days to confirm appointments to boards and commissions instead of the current 60 days. 


  • FORMALLY REQUIRE ALDER APPROVAL for all memoranda of understanding and contracts totaling over $100,000. This doesn’t alter the status quo; it formally defines a “contract” and documents the legislative role in the approval of contracts. 


  • MAKE BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS MORE ADAPTABLE AND ELASTIC by allowing the Board of Alders to restructure and remove some non-essential commissions and boards through the normal legislative process by ordinance without waiting ten years until the next charter revision. 


  • MAKING THE CHARTER MORE INCLUSIVE by rewriting the charter in gender-neutral language to avoid gender-based stereotypes. Examples of this are changing language from “he” and “him” to “they” and “them.” These changes keep the commitment of the City government to create an open and welcoming community where all residents are recognized and respected.


Why Mayor Elicker and others support the Charter Revision: 

  • INCENTIVISE GOVERNING OVER CAMPAIGNING: The 2023 Charter Revision will prevent outside political pressure from determining outcomes in City Hall. The Mayor of New Haven and other elected officials will have a real opportunity to govern, develop nuanced policy, and implement a citywide agenda rather than focusing so much time on campaigning for re-election. 


  • SPEND FEWER TAXPAYER DOLLARS ON ELECTIONS: By extending terms from two to four years, New Haven would cut the costs of facilitating elections and Democracy Fund expenses in half in a four-year period. 


  • STABLE LEADERSHIP & FEWER STAFF VACANCIES: Department heads and senior administration officials generally serve under one Mayor and leave the Government after a new Mayor is elected. Taking a job with two-year job security is not always attractive to the best talent; four-year terms will help New Haven recruit the best candidates for positions across city government. 


You can read the full text of New Haven’s 2023 Charter Revision here. You can read the Charter Revision Commission’s official summary of the 2023 Charter Revision here

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