After nearly ten years as president and CEO of the Connecticut Technology Council, Matthew Nemerson is pursuing a new goal: The mayor’s office in New Haven.
Nemerson, 57, is a former head of the chamber of commerce in New Haven and also co-founded Science Park, the technology development in the Elm City. He’s also active in ward politics there.
Nemerson said Thursday he will take a leave from his job starting Monday, but will stay on part-time, focusing on some projects that are underway. He said the technology council, which represents over 2,000 companies with more than 200,000 employees, does have a succession plan but the board had not yet enacted it, so he didn’t give details.
Nemerson is one of several hopefuls seeking to follow 20-year incumbent Mayor John DeStefano, who isn’t running for re-election. Nemerson is challenging the field to a series of neighborhood-based debates, the New Haven Independent reports.
He’ll give watchers of the nexus between business and politics a lot to follow: He’s not a politician with a background in business, nor a businessman with an interest in politics, though he was chief operating officer of Netkey Inc., a Branford software firm that sold to NCR Corp. Rather, Nemerson has lived at the intersection of business and public policy all along, and he has ideas for the city that extend from his ideas about economic development broadly.
“For most of time, cities have been about new groups coming to the city, getting power and figuring out how they can take part in all the benefits,” Nemerson said Thursday. Now, he said, “It’s going to be about the fact that the pie is actually smaller. The last time we went through that was in the 30s…How do we actually share the very difficult decisions as we go forward?”
That doesn’t mean cities such as New Haven will see less prosperity. I said in a column Wednesday, about long-term pension and health liabilities, that the American empire is fading — but that’s not a view Nemerson holds, at least as far as hopes for solutions.
“Lots of people have managed fewer resources…The places that are the most agile…they actually create collaboratives between workers’ interests and business interests,” Nemerson said. “If we can have a strategy to deal with that, then we can create a new American model of sharing power and sharing solutions to a really difficult problems.”
I asked Nemerson if he planned to come back to the tech council if he didn’t win. but wisely, he didn’t bite. “I’m preparing to say goodbye,” he said. “I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think that I had a path to victory.”