NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) -- For the first time in two decades, New Haven is going to have a new mayor. Published reports say John DeStefano will announce today that he will not run for an eleventh term.
New Haven Independent and the
New Haven Register both say DeStefano sent out an email last night inviting the public to an announcement at a downtown restaurant, then he made phone calls to certain people letting them know that announcement will be that he will not run for mayor this November.
When DeStefano got elected to his first term in 1993, the Mayor and the city looked a lot different. Just ask the Chamber of Commerce Chair.
"There might have been five or six restaurants at the time in downtown New Haven that people from the suburbs would come in to New Haven to patronize," said Hugh Manke, NH Chamber of Commerce. "Now we're talking about 40 or 50."
Restaurants, stores, bioscience; DeStefano worked with business, the state and with Yale to completely change the look and feel of New Haven.
That included blowing up one of the city's biggest landmarks and eyesores in 2007. Demolishing the Coliseum made way for the new Gateway Community College campus that opened last fall. It is education that will probably be DeStefano's biggest legacy in New Haven. He vowed to rebuild or completely renovate every school in the city. That one and a half billion dollar project is just about completed
DeStefano also championed community policing and crime rates fell in the last 20 years. That's part of why he rarely faced a serious challenge in running a record for 20 terms. His toughest race was when he ran for Governor in 2006. He beat Dan Malloy in the democratic primary, but lost to Jodi Rell in a landslide in November.
His time in City Hall had some controversies. A group of firefighters sued the city when they passed the promotions exam, but they didn't get promoted because the city said the test was biased against African Americans. The firefighters took the suit to the Supreme Court and won.
And Destefano was vilified by conservatives nationwide when he started letting undocumented immigrants get city-issued ID cards
However, when you drive over the new Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge, remember that it was DeStefano who fought to make it a bridge worth looking at, and remember what the old bridge, and the old city used to look like.
"During those 20 years, the years since John DeStefano came into office, the city of New Haven and the region have really turned around," Manke said.
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