– submitted by Leighton Newlin to Princeton Packet March 28, 2020

Mark Freda is ready. Ready to hit the ground running. Ready to lead and ready to listen.

When I sat down to talk with to Mark, I was familiar with his having been a Princeton Borough councilman and I knew he had been involved with the fire department. What I didn’t know and was surprised to hear was that in addition to the fire department that he was also associated with the EMTs, and that he began his service to Princeton Fire and Rescue Squad when he was 18 years old, and has been in the “looking out for others” business ever since.

In my opinion, and I told him so. Mark has some big shoes to fill because Liz Lempert has been an extraordinary mayor. Under sometimes very challenging circumstances, Liz has nurtured the soil and planted the seeds for smart growth. The good news is that this ain’t Mark’s first rodeo and he fully understands the infrastructure and intricacies of government and knows how things work. He knows and appreciates the importance of transparency. As inconvenient and unfriendly as it can sometimes be, it is necessary for trust and good governance, even when people may not agree with the decisions being made.

Princeton has some very real and very serious challenges ahead. Affordability, livability and how we move people around will be critical; it is essential that the issue of parking and maintaining neighborhood character be properly and evenly managed. Mark sees and understands the big picture.

He knows that Princeton’s “welcoming banner” must continue to manifest itself in real and tangible ways, both internally and externally as increased density, gentrification and changes in infrastructure take place. His work with first responders, his familiarity with emergency situations, and his ability to act and react quickly are valuable assets that he will put to use. He knows his way in and around local government, boards and committees. As Princeton grows from a small town to a small city these are only some of the issues we will face. Honesty, integrity, stewardship and guidance will be essential components of a successful mayor and Mark has them all in spades.

Princeton is extremely fortunate that Mark Freda wants to be its mayor. We’ve got some serious work ahead and that’s what Mark has been doing his whole life. I have every confidence that he has the ability to put Princeton on a trajectory of greatness as a town (small city) of “equity” in all quality of life areas, that cares and embraces all people and does so in a way that in unmistakably human.

That’s my hope. He’s got my vote.

Leighton Newlin
Princeton