In first year, Harp reverts to ‘we’

New Haven's first female Mayor Toni Harp.

Paul Bass / New Haven Independent

New Haven’s first female mayor, Toni Harp.

A photograph of a woman hangs in the New Haven mayor’s office—a photo of Margaret Holloway (a.k.a.the Shakespeare Lady), not of the woman who serves as mayor.

Other photos of New Haven adorn the public waiting area. None of them pictures the mayor.

Toni Harp hadn’t noticed that. She hadn’t thought of it.

Therein lies a defining feature of Harp’s first year in office as New Haven’s first female mayor: She hasn’t used the first-person singular much, neither in conversation nor in the way she has governed.

Reflecting on her first year in office, Harp said in an interview Monday that she has been pleased with the city’s progress, especially with the drop in violent crime and new efforts to keep endangered teens safe and in school.
New Haven has had 12 murders this year, compared with 20 in 2013. It had 58 non-fatal shootings as of Dec. 21, 2014, compared with 64 up to that date in 2013 and 84 in 2012. There were 171 reported shots fired, compared with 223 in 2013.

During Harp’s first 100 days in office, two murders of teens shook her and the community. A slew of Harp administration initiatives followed: recreation and educational programs for teens; summer overtime for walking beats; a “restorative justice” disciplinary approach in the schools; vocational training for kids not destined for college; community canvasses of families with kids at risk of getting shot; and a weekly Youth Stat gathering bringing together educators, cops, parole and truancy officers, and mental-health and street outreach workers to share information and plan how to help students who act out.

Lots of energy went into getting projects started in 2014. In 2015 the jury will begin rendering a verdict on the long-term results, beyond the 2014 decline in violence.

“We tried to do everything as a community, together,” Harp said. “That’s what it takes.”

Read the complete story in the New Haven Independent.

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