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NEW HAVEN — John DeStefano, Jr. was sworn in as the 49th Mayor of New Haven on January 1, 1994. He is serving his 9th term in office. Mayor DeStefano has worked hard and successfully to strengthen the academic achievement of public school students, to build a vibrant mixed use city center, a competitive economic base, strong neighborhoods and a community culture of traditional values and social tolerance.
During Mayor DeStefano’s tenure virtually every public school has been rebuilt under the $1.5 billion Citywide School Construction Program.
Key features of the school construction program have supported universal pre-k services, the largest inter-district enrollment and magnet school program in the State, college level lab and technology facilities and great architecture.
In 2009, the Mayor and school board, of which he is a member and the appointing authority, announced the School Change Initiative. Supported by a ground breaking agreement with the New Haven Federation of Teachers, the City has launched a reform initiative whose key strategies are a portfolio approach to school management, a focus on teacher talent through a progressive teacher evaluation construct and a commitment to see that every child has the aspiration for and is prepared and able to complete college.
Since taking office in 1994 the City center has undergone a dramatic transformation into a mixed use community of some 12,000 residents. Anchored by the Mayor’s support of University, Hospital and medical center expansion, New Haven has emerged as a national center of life and bio science businesses. Downtown commercial, residential and retail occupancies stand at record lows. In 2010 the US Department of Transportation announced funding of the Downtown Crossing project which will remove a 1960’s era limited express highway that
has divided the central business district from the City’s principal rail station and rapidly growing medical research, clinical and office district. The project will double the size of the downtown.
Neighborhoods have been strengthened as the city has managed housing stock to mixed income and use models, promoted commercial corridors, street smart infrastructure and public improvements. The City has decentralized police management districts, promoted the use of neighborhood based collaborations and a robust civic culture.
That civic culture has resulted in a welcoming and inclusive community through initiatives such as the Elm City Resident Card that provides identification cards and access to public services for all residents of the City. Under the Mayor’s leadership, the City has sponsored the organization and capitalization of a community development bank whose mission supports the unbanked and promotes financial literacy. New Haven boasts an incredibly vibrant culture of economic and social entrepreneurship.
Mayor DeStefano has served as the President of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and the National League of Cities, the oldest and largest organization representing America’s cities and towns. During his tenure New Haven has been named an ‘All America City’ three times.
Mayor DeStefano is the son of a New Haven police officer and a lifelong City resident. John and his wife Kathy DeStefano met at the University of Connecticut as undergraduates, where he also earned a Masters in Public Administration. Kathy is a first grade teacher and they are the parents of two sons.
Photo Credit : John DeStefano, Jr