Mayor Toni N. Harp

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An abiding commitment to social justice steers Toni Harp’s career in public service. Over time she earned a reputation as “the conscience of the Senate” at the Capitol. Her drive for inclusiveness, equality, and integrity is the byproduct of resonant, across-the-board life experiences.

Toni was raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, the youngest of six children; an African-American Baptist in a primarily white, almost universally Mormon community. Both of her parents worked to support the family. Her mother was a Teamster and worked for Greyhound Bus Lines while her father worked for the Santa Fe Railroad.

Toni’s tireless work ethic is a function of lessons learned from her parents.

In the 1960s, Toni moved to the south side of Chicago to attend college. She earned a degree and began working for the American Society of Planning Officials. Her lifelong interest in urban planning and how cities work can be traced to that first job. From there, Toni was recruited to study at Yale’s School of Architecture where she earned a Master’s degree.

One of Toni’s early lessons about the rewards of activism was the result of a social justice matter when she worked – coincidentally – for the City of New Haven. Toni helped organize AFSCME Local 3144, a management union, and she became the Human Resources Department’s first union steward.

Toni’s enduring respect for working people and her tireless advocacy for issues important to all citizens has been unwavering since.

Toni’s public service in elected office began, first as a member of New Haven’s Board of Aldermen, and then, for the past 20 years, as Senator for the 10th District.

Throughout her distinguished tenure, Toni’s signature issues have never waivered:

—Full access to affordable healthcare, regardless of ethnic, cultural, or economic differences.

—A responsive and effective public safety network working hand-in-hand with an equitable criminal justice system.

—Maximizing opportunity for each individual student through public education, with particular emphasis on early childhood learning and development of reading skills.

—Job creation and economic development so city residents can enjoy the rewards and responsibilities of productive engagement, and so a vibrant city can provide necessary services without putting an excessive burden on taxpayers.

Then-Senator Harp recently co-chaired the state’s Achievement Gap Task Force, created to address the undeniable disparity in educational access and performance, which exists along ethnic, cultural, aharp_children.jpgnd socioeconomic lines. Recommendations made by the task force helped the state live up to its Constitutional mandate to provide every student an equal educational opportunity and meet our moral obligation to prepare the next generation for responsible, productive lives.

Earlier this year, Mayor Harp played a pivotal role -- as senator -- in passing Connecticut’s new law to address Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety. Toni was co-chair of the Mental Health Services Working Group, making recommendations built into the new law about providing mental health first aid services and taking advantage of enhanced behavioral health screening opportunities.

Toni has lived in New Haven for more than 40 years and works as the Homeless Service Director at the Cornell Scott Hill Health Center. She is the proud mother of three grown and accomplished children—Djana, Jamil, and Matthew.

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