Justin Elicker, with Natalie Elicker, submits paperwork Monday to Assistant City Clerk May Gardner-Reed. Paul Bass / New Haven Independent

Mayor Justin Elicker filed papers Monday to run for a third two-year term, 11 months and four days after he began his second one.

Elicker filed the papers and answered reporters’ questions inside the City Clerk’s offie at 200 Orange St. beginning at 9:30 a.m.

The early start reflected the near-constant campaign mode of New Haven government and politics given New Haven’s two-year mayoralty, a topic expected to come up for debate and possible revision in this year’s charter review process.

As in past campaigns, Democrat Elicker became the first candidate to announce for the position. But at least four other potential candidates — community organizer and retired police Sgt. Shafiq Abdussabur, former federal prosecutor and current Hartford inspector general Liam Brennan, Wendy Hamilton, and McKinskey & Company consultant and West Haven native Tom Goldenberg, who moved to East Rock four years ago — have already been meeting with people across town for months exploring possible challenges to the incumbent.

Also as in past campaigns, Elicker made his announcement at the city clerk’s office, accompanied by his wife Natalie Elicker, rather than at a public rally with dozens of supporters, the way other candidates traditionally have done.

One twist this year reflected Elicker’s incumbent status: Democratic Town Chair Vincent Mauro Jr. accompanied him. Mauro endorsed Elicker’s reelection.

“He has brought a degree of stability to the city,” Mauro said. ​“He’s done a good job.” Mauro argued that a third term will enable Elicker, like his predecessors, the chance to pursue broader, longer-range goals that will define his place in history after building a team and implementing incremental policies.

Speaking with reporters after filing his papers, Elicker, 47, said he’s excited to build on accomplishments from his first two terms.

He cited new laws requiring the inclusion of affordable apartments in large development projects and recognition of tenant unions before the Fair Rent Commission; the construction of 500 new affordable units in town with another 1,600 in the pipelines; the launch of a crisis intervention team sending social workers and mental health professionals to some 911 calls; the creation of 160 new small businesses, many of them Black- or brown-owned, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic; the opening of the Dixwell Q House and West Hills’ The Shack along with the first three of eight neighborhood community centers in formerly underused city buildings.

In a third term he would look to follow through on those efforts while increasing efforts to hold landlords accountable and pursue long-term responses to homelessness, Elicker said.

“I am confident in our ability to do this as a team,” he said.

Elicker took credit as well for appointing a popular police chief: ​“I’ve heard from so many people impressed with Chief [Karl] Jacobson’s engagement with the community.” Elicker originally named a different police chief, whose nomination was rejected by the Board of Alders and then became the subject of a court fight that Elicker lost over his interpretation of his appointment rights under the city charter.

As in past campaigns, Elicker said, he is participating in the city’s public-financing Democracy Fund, which grants candidates matching funds in return for limiting the size of individual donations and forswearing special-interest and political action committee money.

The mayor was asked if he has made any mistakes he has learned from in his first two (or, so far, almost one and a half) terms.

He cited two examples from the first six months of his first term in 2020: When he hesitated hours before appearing at a Black Lives Matter protest outside police headquarters and stayed away from a confrontation that turned violent as the city removed the Christopher Columbus statue in Wooster Square Park.

“I didn’t trust my gut. I trust some advisers who said” that showing up would create a problem, Elicker said.

Since then, he said, ​“I try to be everywhere I can be — even if being there is a difficult thing.”

Elicker was asked about the city’s two-year election cycle, which leads most candidates to begin campaigning for office before the first year of a new term is completed.

The mayor has endorsed a proposal to have an upcoming charter review commission ask voters to approve a move to four-year terms in a budget referendum. Hamden did that this year.

“It makes it more challenging to govern,” including the ability to engage in long-term planning, Elicker argued. ​“There’s a difference between people criticizing and giving feedback because they want to the system to be better” rather than because they ​“want to become mayor.”

This story was originally published Dec. 5, 2022 by New Haven Independent.

Editor’s note: Liam Brennan, one of the potential candidates for mayor, is a member of the CT Mirror’s Community Editorial Board.