by Fernando Torres
With crime rates as high as 40,000 crimes+ per year, the Bronx in the 1990’s was not a safe place to live. Ugonna Eze, PC ’16, recalls not being able to walk safely through the streets without the fear of getting shot at or getting caught in the middle of gang warfare.
As the son of immigrants, Ugonna’s parents searched for a way to improve their son’s life, and for them that meant relying on their local community and charter school system.
While living in the Bronx, Ugonna was amazed to see that the crime and inequality problems weren’t solved by government policies, but rather handled by its community members. In an interview with DOWN, he recalled the hard work of the people at Bethany Chapel, who guided at-risk youths away from violence and gangs.
Eze believes he can improve New Haven by uniting its residents, in the same way that the religious community guided the improvement of the Bronx.
According to Eze, this same community experience also assisted the formation of one of his strengths – that he can personally relate to many of the people who live in New Haven. Many of the issues that he sees today are the same issues that he faced growing up: poverty, inequality, crime rates, education gaps, and homelessness.
“There’s this misconception of homelessness as a statistic or abstract idea,” Ugonna told a group of supporters. “These are men, women, boys, and girls no different than you and I.”
He stressed the importance of helping “our neighbors,” and it’s this type of language of unity that Ugonna is more than ready to spread.
This emphasis on community is why Ugonna is running as a Republican; he believes that Democrats, “take the minority vote for granted.”
“This is something that everyone can get involved with,” said campaign supporter Mollie Johnson BR’18, “It’s welcoming, opening, and inclusive.”
This bipartisan campaign is something that Eze believes will allow him to hear all sides of the political spectrum, ensuring that he can grow as a candidate.
Eze grew up relying on his community, and it is that same sentiment that he believes will help solve many of the problems in New Haven.