Two council seats at stake in Princeton primary
By Rob Anthes
The mayor’s office and two seats on Princeton council appear on the ballot during this year’s delayed primary election.
The primary will take place mostly via mail-in ballot. June 16 was the last day to register to vote before the primary. All registered voters will receive either a ballot or instructions on how to declare a party in order to receive a ballot—in New Jersey, only registered Democrats and Republicans may vote in their respective party’s primary.
The Mercer County Clerk’s Office began mailing ballots to voters this week. All completed ballots must be postmarked July 7 or sooner in order to be counted.
There are no Republican candidates for municipal office in Princeton, meaning the winners of the Democratic primary most likely will have an obstacle-free path to office come November’s general election.
This is especially true for Mark Freda, who is also running unopposed in the mayoral primary. Freda—barring an unforeseen circumstance—will receive a four-year term as mayor, and replace Liz Lempert once her term expires at the end of 2020. Lempert has served as mayor of consolidated Princeton since 2012; she is the first person to hold that office.
Freda served on Princeton Borough council from 1986 until 1999, and was Princeton’s first Director of Emergency Services. He is an active member of the Princeton Community Democratic Organization, having served on its executive board in 2018 and 2019. A lifelong Princeton resident, Freda is a 40-year veteran of the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad and of the Princeton Fire Department. He is the current president of PFARS, and previously served as fire chief.
The Princeton Echo asked the candidates, “What is the most pressing issue facing Princeton? How would you solve it?” They were allowed one week to write a response, with a limit of 300 words. Their statements follow:
The top issue to me is communication. It is a common theme in so many of the one-on-one discussions and the group calls I have had with Princeton residents these last few months.
There are many important issues. Discrimination, racism, the challenges facing many of Princeton’s immigrant residents, affordable housing, housing for working class residents/families, transportation safety and overall planning (buses/ bicycles/cars/walking), economic development, the town’s relationships with Princeton University/Mercer County/the School Board, sustainability, our climate action plan, COVID-19’s continuing impacts, our municipal budget, taxes.
Each of these issues would take many more than 300 words to address individually. But again, a common underlying theme in my discussions on all these topics comes back to communication. How do we communicate, do we encourage enough diverse perspectives on most topics, are we willing to have difficult conversations in public, do our residents feel welcome to express their thoughts with elected officials, do we provide direct answers to questions, do we follow-up as promised when we need to research a question.
As mayor I will welcome respectful, open and honest dialogue. We will not all agree on every issue, and that is OK. But we all need to hear each other’s perspectives. I will listen to your information or suggestions offered on our different issues. I will give direct answers to questions. I will share what I know and find out what I don’t. I will embrace public discussion; but I will also push for decisions. And I will push for implementation of those decisions in a timely manner.