Hamden mayoral candidates: What do they think?
By Lindsay Pytel and Dorah Labatte
Hamden and QU's relationship
The 2017 Hamden mayoral race between current mayor Curt Leng and underdog republican candidate Salman Hamid is coming to a close on November, 7, and the results could potentially impact Quinnipiac's relationship with the town. Since being elected in 2015, Leng says that the relationship between the town and Quinnipiac University has greatly improved and that he regularly communicates with QU’s president John Lahey.
“We meet, we talk, we text,” he said. “We have a regular communication now and that’s really nine tenths of the whole game, because if you're communicating then you can say ‘hey I have a problem with this and this’ or ‘hey can you help me out with this or this’ and (it’s) going both ways.”
Leng said he has seen this growing communication in other areas of the town as well. For example, he mentioned better communication this past year between the Hamden police and Quinnipiac’s public safety.
The expansion of the student body and increasing amount of student housing, however, is still an issue between Leng and Lahey, but Leng says they have been finding the balance between the town of Hamden and QU.
“It's a balance of trying to figure out how you can have rules that are appropriate and legal that kind of incentivize locations that make more sense for student development period,” Leng said. “So it's a matter of trying to plan these things out and the more that you work, I think, with the neighbors, university, town (and) students together, which we haven't perfected yet.”
Hamid says if he is elected as mayor he will improve Hamden’s relationship with Quinnipiac by discussing housing with the incoming president.
“They should never have been barred from enjoying the benefits Hamden has to offer.”
He added that he will invite QU students back into Hamden for shopping and dining.
“...By working (with) the president of the university to smooth over the issues that have caused division such as student housing. We will use QU security to help ease tensions between neighbors.”
Leng says that throughout his time as mayor, town financing has always held a major role.
“...We really focus on (it) a lot and we've been able to strengthen the town's finances quite a bit,” Leng said.
He says that in regards of improvements in town financing, there is a lot for everyone to be proud of.
“Our bond rating has been upheld,” Leng said. "We had the first budget without a tax increase in ten years this past year, so that took a lot of work and spent a lot of time with our delegation making sure that our our state funding is fingers crossed still coming through."
As for Hamid, key issues include high taxes, energy efficiency, animal shelter construction, equality in education and resident participation in spending for local government.
“You probably heard over and over of residents complaining about Quinnipiac student housing and so on and so forth," he said. "That situation wouldn’t have happened if taxes were sustainable in town, because people have either foreclosed on their property or they rent it out to students because there is no other option because they can’t sell their homes.”
One can clearly see the difference in numbers and that on certain issues the two candidates don't see eye to eye. All will be decided next week on Election Day Nov. 7. Who will you vote for?