May 17, 2015, The New Haven Independent, by Markeshia Ricks - What a difference two years make. At least it did for Toni Harp when she formally announced her candidacy Saturday for a second, two-year term as New Haven’s mayor. Though the day was overcast, it did not rain on Harp’s re-election kickoff. Roughly 300 supporters gathered to hear the city’s first woman chief executive ask people to keep her at the helm of a city government that she said was more inclusive and cooperative since she took office, but also continues to bring more people to the table. Harp, a Democratic former state senator, made the announcement in Edgewood Park—the same spotwhere, with the help of 250 supporters, she kicked off her 2013 campaign to become the city’s first female mayor. Back then, the city was in the midst of its most frenetic election in decades. Seven Democrats were running, four of them with the capability of mounting funded citywide campaigns with paid staffers and dozens of volunteers. The city was divided; candidates battled each other for supporters and donors and about issues each day for close to a year. Four candidates made the Democratic primary ballot; and even the general election turned out close (a shocker for one-party New Haven).This Saturday, Harp stood on the stage not only as an incumbent and presumptive frontrunner—but with no major competitor emerging. (Sundiata Keitazulu, who ran and failed to make the ballot or accrue money or citywide support in 2013, announced that he will try again to make the primary ballot; as might former City Clerk Ron Smith.)
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